Understanding Kdrama: Leaving Your Shoes At The Door

In a recent episode of "One Warm Word," the police came to investigate the disturbance caused by Han Hye Jin and Lee Sang Woo. But when they ensured that he was not beating up his wife, they did so without their shoes.

It's hard to imagine officers on a show like "Law and Order" removing their shoes before questioning a witness.

And yet, unless it's a matter of life and death, everyone in Korea really does take off their shoes before stepping inside.

There are several reasons.

First, it's a matter of cleanliness. If you sit on the floor, sleep on the floor and eat closer to the floor, you really don't want shoes tracking dirt and germs all over that surface.

Remember Park Shin Hye and her mom sitting on the floor of their tiny room in their stocking feet in "The Heirs?"

Second, it's a sign of respect for the private space that belongs to the person or family you are visiting. It shows that you honor their customs.

Third, it's a way of leaving the world behind and stepping into another realm.

So, don't forget to take off your shoes before you enter any Korean home you are visiting or even if you stay in a traditional hotel. There's usually a cupboard, shelf or space by the door that is indicated for your shoes. 
And many places that require the removal of shoes will offer inside slippers for guests.

In Korea, some restaurants even require you to remove your shoes. If they have traditional seating on the floor, you may be encouraged to leave your shoes behind.

At school, some workplaces or the gym, you may also have to bring slippers for your personal use, although guest slippers may be available for an occasional visit.

The custom can also play a role in k-drama plots. If your k-drama mom or your boyfriend's mom arrives for a visit and sees shoes belonging to the opposite sex waiting at the entryway, she may suspect something is up. In "The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry," Park Jin Hee had to toss Kim Bum's shoes into the closet when she knew his mom was downstairs. She had broken her promise not to see him.

Lee Bo Young left a pair of men's shoes at the entryway of her apartment in "I Hear Your Voice" so that the villain stalking her would think that she lived with a man. When Lee Jong Suk lived with her she did not need those shoes.

Watching k-dramas can certainly make wearing slippers seem more appealing. If you think of all the attractive stars you have seen wearing them, they become a much more desirable fashion accessory.

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