Thursday, February 6, 2014

Korean Culture 101

Koreans and their quirkiness.

Cultural Differences”, oh, how many times we’ve heard that phrase! Sometimes, when we see someone from another country do or say something amazing, and sometimes, appealing to it to justify when someone from another country do or say something bad or just weird. Anyway, they sure exist and some are good, but some aren’t.

Since I am in a country (Korea) very –VERY- far away from my own (Mexico), I get to see and live “cultural differences” every single day. I actually enjoy some of them and can’t really deal with some others; but well, I’m in their territory so I have to suck it up, basically lol Anyway, judgment aside…these are some of the things that Koreans do and I guess can be considered as such (cultural differences); good or bad –it is what it is!.

Korean Flag made with Kimbap and sauces


- Don’t always wash their hands after using the toilet. They’d much rather spend their time fixing their hair and makeup in the mirror...or taking selfies. (Here’s when you appreciate the fact that they don’t shake hands ^^)

- Must look as nice as possible at all times. B*tches be wearing heels and miniskirts with a full face of makeup while climbing a mountain during the summer…or a hip hop concert.

- Wear the same. Yes, it is very common to see tons of people on the street wearing the same and not just the same jacket, or t-shirt or jeans, but the same entire outfit! I guess this happens because the clothing stores make their mannequins look so good, people just go like “I’ll have that outfit, please” –yes, all set up as it is on the window.

- Don’t acknowledge a sneeze. Did you sneeze? Well, that's okay, you don't need to excuse yourself or say anything about it, just carry on with whatever you were doing as if nothing had happened (even if you were eating/drinking/talking), but also, don't expect someone to say “bless you” either, cause nobody will.

- Drink instant coffee mix. Real coffee is for special occasions or for coffee shops, at home, there's no need to drink real coffee when a coffee mix stick will do...even if the package is only enough for a dwarf's cup.

 - Master the Art of Self-Service. Waiters? What's that? Yeah, there's no such thing as -proper- waiting service in Korea; you want water? You go get it. You want side dishes You go get them. You want...well, you get the idea. (Personally, I really miss waiters as it is part of the charm of eating outside, right? To have people do things for you!)
Banchan (Side dishes)

- Don’t tip. This is the up side to the no-waiting-service thing. Since there are no waiters to serve you, there is no tip to give. Simple as that.

- Take Kimchi as a way of life. That's right, eat Kimchi for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert (I hear there's chocolate Kimchi) and also, in Western food (Kimchi fries, kimchi pizza, etc.). Not only do they think its delicious but it is also healthy, so that adds up to it.

Kimchi Fries
 - Push people around. Whether it's the subway, train or just a crowded street, they will push people around even if they're not in a hurry, it's a normal thing here. And even though most people (all ages) do it, is particularly done by older people.

- Feel entitled to anything and everything as they get older. That’s right, in Korea, just because someone is older must be treated with respect, regardless how they treat others. This is a hard one for me, as I learned that respect is something you earn as opposed to something you’re just entitled to. It is ok to respect old(er) people, but they make it a really hard thing when they mistreat you or push you around for no reason.

- Make awfully loud sounds when they're eating. Yes, this is gross and irritating in the rest of the World, but in Korea it's more than accepted. I am still not sure why they do it as even asking about it seems rude to me, all I know is it's rather annoying and I wish they didn’t do it.

- Obsess about Health (more than anything else). That's right, Koreans are more obsessed with health and “well-being” than anyone/any other race I know, and you'll find they do a lot of the things they do due to their eternal pursuit of health. They will, gladly, buy anything labeled as such, whether it’s a (hand/face/body) cream, food, a beverage, a face mask, you name it, if it’s healthy, they’ll buy it!

Health and Beauty Products

And well, that is just some of the things Koreans usually do, but there are a lot more that I will -maybe- talk about later on.  There are also a lot of misconceptions about them that I like to talk about such as "all Koreans are tall", "all Koreans are mean", "all Koreans are such bullies", "all Koreans smell like garlic/kimchi", etc...but well, that's a topic for another post. If you have a [mis]conception of Koreans, do let me know!

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