I am trying to understand the reason why Korean girls are so camera shy. Whenever they realize a public camera is on them in a situation an American girl would wave or smile or thumbs up, they immediately hide their face like their life depended on it. Is it shame or modesty or what? This is an aspect of Korean culture I don't understand.

korean shyness

The picture shows a typical example. When this girl realized she was on camera she first tried to hide her face with her hands, then thrust her whole body down doubled up, and finally decided the best strategy was to hide her face with the cheerful (as shown).

  • I've heard that schoolgirls do this at public events because they are skipping school or otherwise not allowed to be at the event, and are worried about being caught. That doesn't really explain why boys don't do it.
    – Max
    Jul 16, 2015 at 13:52
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    No wanting a stranger taking pictures of you is weird? I don't think this is just a Korean thing.
    – bobbyalex
    Jul 16, 2015 at 14:10
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    Did you take this picture? Jul 16, 2015 at 14:10
  • 1
  • This happens with women from Japan as well, a country that's somewhat similar in its culture.
    – Golden Cuy
    Aug 30, 2015 at 6:57

1 Answer 1


It varies :-)

Your approach may need work.
This young lady is Korean (travelling in Malaysia).
(Or you may be substantially younger than me and so appear more threatening :-) ).

Collapsed tripod with camera at 90 degree pointing down legs used as train "selfie stick" - set timer to 2 seconds, adjust focus manually, press shutter release and swing camera out away from train. Watch for posts and bridge abutments :-(.

Here (my "Old Grey Guy" album) are 100+ people - many are Asians in Asia, who don't seem to mind too much. Not too many Koreans there, but those I have meet did not seem to behave too dissimilarly

enter image description here

The photos below were largely taken in Asia.
Apart from having me in them, the common theme is that that was the first and only time I met these people - I was 'just another guy with a camera'. If you can achieve that degree of empathy with people, a few photos of them by themselves, if that's what you want, is often achievable.
I biased this selection towards those with women in, as that seemed relevant to your question - and it's EASIER to persuade women to have their photos taken than men, fwiw. In the ones where people seem to be standing a bit closer than you may expect - that was their choice - I'm VERY careful not to get myself misunderstood (or, no more so than waving a camera achieves by itself :-) ).

Larger version here

enter image description here

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