Korean Body Odor – Do Korean People Smell? [EXPLAINED]

Korean Body Odor

Sweat: The sign of your favorite idol’s hard work after hours of performance and practice. They may still look hot even after sweating buckets. But if their sweaty looks aren’t a problem, what about their sweaty smell?

Do they, and the rest of the Korean people, smell?

The answer may surprise you.

Do Korean People Have Body Odor?

Smelling Armpit

Just like normal people, Koreans can have body odor after a long time of sweat. But generally, they don’t smell as bad as others. And that’s probably thanks to genetics.

To understand this, let’s do a quick science lesson first.

Why Most Korean People Don’t Smell?

Woman Touching Armpit

A few years ago, scientists discovered a version of the gene ABCC11. It messes up with the composition of sweat, resulting in that funky smell we all avoid like the plague. This ABCC11 variant makes chemicals that odor-causing bacteria just love.

And surprisingly, only a tiny population of Koreans have this version of ABCC11. As tiny as 0.006 percent. So that makes almost the entire country odor-free!

But that doesn’t mean they have god-like abilities to resist odor. Eat too much garlic or skip the shower for days and they can still get that weird smell. But it’s likely not as strong as the smell you’re used to.

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Do Koreans Use Deodorant?

Young Man Using Perfume

Since they don’t smell a lot, most Koreans skip deodorants. The average Korean you meet, maybe your classmate or coworker, probably doesn’t even have a stick of deo at home.

So yep, they don’t need to roll something on their ‘pits once they get out of the shower. Talk about good luck!

And when they do, Koreans use a deo only a few times. Usually during summer when it’s too hot, but definitely not every day. That’s why one deo stick usually lasts them for years!

Is Deodorant Hard to Find in Korea?

Roll-on deodorant

If you live somewhere where you put deodorant every day, then Korea might shock you. Deodorant in Korea isn’t as common as it is in your part of the world. It’s not found in every supermarket or Korean convenience store.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find them. Smaller groceries carry a limited number of brands. But you should find a decent selection in big hypermarkets.

So if you hear someone saying that deodorant in Korea is rare, that’s old news.

But you might struggle if you’re looking for a specific brand. Most deodorants here are “mild,” and the most famous brand is Nivea. For strong brands like Old Spice and Axe, you’ll have better chances when buying online.

With the availability of deodorants in Korea, many think it’s not necessary at all to stock up before you fly. That’s unless you have a desired brand, of course.

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Where to Find Deodorant in Korea

Man in Supermarket

Aside from the big hypermarkets, you have the best luck finding a deo in so-called foreign districts. These are basically places with lots of foreigners. Think Itaewon, Gyeongildan, and Haebangcheon.

You can also try health and beauty stores near your area. Places like Olive Young and Watsons should carry a decent selection of deodorants.

But if luck’s not on your side, you can always opt to buy online. Of course, this works best if you’re looking for a specific brand! Try Coupang, Gmarket, and Lalavla — they’re the biggest e-commerce sites in the country.

You can also check if Amazon ships your favorite deodorant to Korea.

I hope you enjoy this article about Korean body odor!

Koreans may not smell a lot. But that doesn’t make the country totally odor-free.

So if you’re visiting the country, better make sure you’re wearing proper deodorant. You don’t want to be the one to stink up their subway!

Want to discover more about Korea? Read our blog posts about why Koreans go to military, why do Koreans bow and why Koreans don’t have beard.


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