Land without smiles?

Is South Korea a land without smiles like its brother in the north? That was my first impression when I first came here. That has changed through through my years of living here. Most of the negative impressions I had of this country has changed through mingling and learning more of the country’s culture, traditions and history. However, I was browsing my wedding album and I noticed that only my husband and I were smiling on the pictures. Almost everyone had a poker face. The same goes with my husband’s family portrait that they had several years ago. And a lot of their old pictures as well.
The Korean word for smile is “웃음” (u-seum). My husband explained that Koreans don’t usually smile specially to strangers because it might be construed that they’re up to no good. In fact, Koreans smile or laugh when they make a mistake to hide their embarrassment. However, I think that attitude has changed over the past few years. I’m guessing it’s because of the cellphones. Kwim? They have to or else they might need face lifts done earlier. Anyway, I’m a person who smiles a lot even if I don’t have perfect teeth.


  1. When are Korean NOT up to no-good? =P
    That is a strange think, because it just seems so creepy whenever I or anyone I know takes a pic without a smile. I never like the resulting pic.

  2. I just stumbled on your site and actually found this quite interesting since I’ve encountered older Koreans who seriously would do the to hide their embarrassment or whenever they made a mistake.

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