Korea is a “floor-oriented” society. That is, furniture and bedding in Korea has traditionally centered around a culture where people are seated or lying down on the floor. It is not surprising, then, that in Korea you have to take off your shoes when you go indoors.
Of course, many Koreans use tables and chairs now, as well as beds. However, the tradition of taking off your shoes indoors is still a steadfast rule for homes. With businesses and restaurants, you just need to take a quick glance at the entry way to get your cue. Is there a pile of shoes and/or a shoe closet? Then take off your shoes…
Since your shoes are unattended while you enjoy your meal, another person could simply slip on your favorite pair and walk off with the wrong set. Or worse yet, you may fall victim to the uniquely Korean crime of intentional shoe-theft! Apparently, there are even people who make shoe theivery their specialty: they’ll make it a point to enter a restaurant as if they are part of another large party, go inside and meander for a bit before walking out with a pair of expensive shoes and leave their crummy ones behind.
So what’s a person to do?