Are Korean And Japanese Cultures Similar Or Different?

Are Korean And Japanese Cultures Similar Or Different?

Korea and Japan are two countries that are major economic powerhouses. They are countries that have some differences and similarities.

Korean and Japanese cultures can have many similarities in how they view family, education, society, and life. Both countries were productive societies, and getting a good education is essential. But even with these basic similarities, they also have many differences in their language, culture, religion, history, and food.

Korean And Japanese Cultural Similarities

Korea and Japan both have cultural similarities. But even with these similarities, they also have a lot of differences. Here are some basic similarities that we see Korea and Japan have.

Both Have A Competitive Education And Work System

Both Korea and Japan have very competitive education and work system. Education is essential, and getting high marks in school is very important.

The work culture can also be very high stressed with workers not wanting to leave the office before their boss leaves or people working long hours, including the weekend. Work is vital for both Koreans and Japanese.

Both Are Rich Nations

Road At Tokyo, Japan, with high-rise buildings and luxury cars

Both South Korea and Japan are wealthy nations. Japan is a highly developed country full of high-rise buildings and luxury cars. Famous brands like Sony, Toyota, and Honda all come from Japan.

Samsung Phone is one of the famous brands in Korea

South Korea has long been touted as an economic miracle. South Korea has notable brands like Samsung, Kia, and LG Electronics.

Influences From China

China has influenced both Korea and Japan. These influences are shown in everything from their religion (Buddhism) to the philosophy of Confucianism, to even the food and language.

Both languages have distinctly Chinese influences, and their old architecture and culture—even their food influences have come from China – both countries have rice and noodles as a staple.

Both Are East Asian Countries

Both Korea and Japan are considered East Asian Countries.

The modern states of East Asia included China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Both Respect Families, Ancestors, And Elders

Both Korea and Japan respect older people

Both Korea and Japan have a deep-rooted belief in showing respect for their families, including their parents and grandparents. They also have respect and belief in their ancestors.

A child will do things to try to please their parents and not put the family name in shame. The family, ancestors, teachers, the family name, and those older than you should be respected.

Both Are Dominately Partiarchical Societies

Both Korea and Japan are considered dominant patriarchal societies. This means that the father or husband will rule the family.

In contemporary Japan and Korea, women have started to have more rights and privileges than their ancestors. But in the home, many of these women will continue to adhere to traditional societal norms of the patriarchal society.

Korean and Japanese Cultural Differences

Even though Japan and Korea seem to have some similarities, they also have a lot of differences.

Korean And Japanese Speak Different Languages

Even though Japanese and Korean languages have some similarities, they are different languages. A native Japanese speaker does not understand a native Korean speaker. When many Japanese and Koreans communicate, they will do so in English.

Not only is the spoken language different, but so is the writing system. HIstorically both Korean and Japanese were written using solely Chinese characters.

The Korean language has a writing system known as Hangul in South Korea and Chosongui in North Korea. It is a system that looks almost a bit Chinese, though it is very different from the Chinese written language.

The Japanese use a system that is called Kana or Kanji. However, there can be some similarities between Chinese characters and Japanese; they are also very different.

Korea And Japan’s Different Cultural Impacts On China

Korea is closer to China, so China has influenced them. In fact, throughout its history, Korea has been heavily influenced by China. After all, parts of Korea do border China.

On the other hand, Japan is an island nation, and from 1639 to 1853, Japan was closed off from the rest of the world. Because it was closed off from the world, Japan developed its arts, culture, and literature without outside influences.

Portrait Of A Woman Holding A Fan Katsushika Hokusai
Example of Japanese Ukiyo-e Woodblock prints

One example is the Ukiyo-E woodblock prints that became a Japanese art form. If you want to learn more about Japanese woodblock prints, you can read the Characteristics of Japanese Ukiyo-e Woodblock Prints by clicking here.

Food In Korea And Japan Is Different

The food in Japan and Korea is very different. Both countries have rice and noodles as a staple of their diets.

Koreans love meat, so eating Korean food usually has a lot of meat dishes. And another favorite of Korean food is Kimchi.

On the other hand, Japanese food is usually lighter and even more artistically displayed. Things like Sushi, teriyaki, or saba fish are favorites for most foreigners to Japanese cuisine.

Political Structures In Japan And Korea Are Different

Korea was formerly a single country, but they had a Korean war from 1950 to 1953. Korea became divided into North and South Korea.

Today the two Koreas are divided politically, economically, culturally, and socially. North Korea is a communist dictatorship; the North Korean government has stringent policies on what citizens can do and who can visit their country.

On the other hand, South Korea is a presidential representative democratic republic where the citizens have freedoms in place. Korea has a multi-party system where the President is the head of state. South Korea welcomes all visitors to their country.

The politics of Japan are in the framework of a constitutional monarchy that is also a dominant party bicameral parliamentary. Japan has an Emperor who is the head of the state.

Japan also has a democratically elected Prime Minister who is the head of the government. The Prime minister is also head of the cabinet that directs the executive branch.

Religion Is Different In Korea And Japan

Religion in Korea and Japan is also different. In North Korea, the state is officially atheist.

Most South Koreans also have no religion, but Christianity and Buddhism are major religions in South Korea. Buddhism arrived in Korea in 372 AD, so there are thousands of temples across the country.

Japan’s major religions are Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is an ancient religion that is ingrained in Japanese culture. Buddhism came from China in the 6th century.

Since Buddhism came to Japan, Shinto and Buddhism have had to co-exist and even harmonize and complement each other.

South Korea Is The K-pop And K-drama Capital

BTS Korean Boy Band

South Korea is the K-pop and K-drama capital of the world. The famous Korean boy band BTS has taken the world by storm. This seven-member boy band has been popular throughout the world.

Black Pink Korean Girl Group

Another K-pop group is the all-girl band Black pink. Other top K-pop groups include EXO, Big Bang, Twice, Girls’ Generation, GOT 7, MONSTA X, Red Velvet and Super M, and more. K-pop has become a vast music industry.

Korean movies or K-Drama have also become extremely popular. Shows like Crash Landing On You, The World of the Married, Goblin, Mr. Sunshine, Mr. Queen, and Love. K-Drama continues to be famous worldwide, even in the United States.

Even though Japan and Korea seem to have some similarities, they also have many differences. Korea and Japan are two distinct and very different cultures.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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Are Korean And Japanese Cultures Similar Or Different?