In Korea, it is considered rude to look directly into someone’s eyes during a conversation, especially if you are being scolded or rebuked by your seniors or elders. In some cultures, making eye contact is a non-verbal part of communication; however, this is not the same in Korean culture.
For example, when a Korean student is being scolded by their teacher, they usually look down at the floor. But this could be startling for foreign teachers working in Korea, interpreting it as a student’s lack of interest, honesty or respect towards the teacher. They might see it as a signal that the student is refusing to listen or simply is not interested in what the teacher is saying.
You might have noticed this attitude in many of the K-dramas where people look down towards the floor when in front of their superiors, especially when they’re in trouble.
Min Byoung-chul is an endowed chair professor at Chung-Ang University who is widely known as a multicultural educator for his practical English teaching. This content is based on his book, “Land of Squid Game,” which can be purchased at major book stores. -- Ed.