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Greet: Korean bowing may be made up of two… | re/touch: an encyclopædia of touch and culture

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Korean bowing may be made up of two elements, the ‘half’ bow and the ‘full’ bow. To make the ‘half’ bow, a man bends his knees slightly with the arms stretched downwards and the palms of the hands facing in toward the legs at a level about halfway between the knees and the feet. The hands do not touch each other and the head is inclined downward. For the ‘full’ bow, a man places the palms of the hands flat on the floor as he drops first onto the left knee and then onto the right. He then brings his nose down almost touching the floor but not quite. One remains in that position for the time required to take a long deep breath. Then the man raises his head and right knee, and continues to rise to his feet, his hands leaving the floor with his left knee. In the worship of ancestors, the ceremonial gesture consists of five bows beginning with a ‘half’ bow and alternating with ‘full’ bows, thus including two of the latter. For other occasions ‘half’ bows or ‘full’ bows are used separately. A woman’s ‘half’ bow varies only in that the palms of both hands face only the right knee, and in the ‘full’ bow, neither knees nor head touch the floor, but the left knee is bent more than the right.

  • Source: Osgood, Cornelius. The Koreans and their culture. New York: The Ronald Press Company, 1951.
  • Culture: Korea
  • Location: Asia