Ah, Korea, there are days I understand you so well. Then there are a majority of days when I think I know what’s happening, I don’t. Case in point below is just a few of the things I learned which can only make sense in Korea Land. Enjoy.
F. M. Laster
“I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.” -Mae West
5 Sentences Which Can Only Make Sense in Korea Land
- Let’s get some Chimek
Here’s the daily guess what game my kiddies play with me. I play along even if’s it the shortest game in history called “Guess What.”
Random Student: Guess what?
Me: Okay. Is it food?
Random Student: Yes
Me: Is it chicken?
Random Student: Yes! Teacher, you won!
If you ever get the chance to make it to Korea Land, you’d learn that Koreans are more obsessed over fried chicken than Popeye’s and KFC combined. What’s weird is that I’d never put Koreans and fried chicken together, but there you have it. Either that or my racism is showing. Fried chicken is very popular here.
Now, what’s this new fancy word called Chimek? Let me tell you. Chimek is one of those words that gets bastardized when Koreans start just making up shit. Chimek is a mix of English and Korean. The English part is chicken, and the Korean part is maekju, which means beer in Korea. So what you get is this wonderful combo of chicken and beer. There are entire franchises over Korea to celebrate this very loving and delicious marriage.
Now, like everything else here in Korea Land, the chicken served in these places has been adjusted to fit the palette of the Average Korean. Most of the chicken is just fried with little to seasoning. Just when you think Korea doesn’t know how to do fried chicken, they flip the script on your ass. There is a boatload of various sauces and seasoning which can be added to the chicken. These sauces and seasoning can range from “mild” (I use that term lightly) to blowing your head off!
- What is Your Kakao ID?
After getting all-legal in Korea Land and getting your bank account, there is also another essential thing you must do. You need to download Kakao Talk. Kakao Talk is the Facebook Messenger of Korea, but much, much better. It’s wacky and have a shit load of fun and strange functions. Us foreigners use it to talk with others and to call each other asses by sending and the actual character of an ass. There are of course other important features to use the app for, but I’m too damn lazy to figure the rest of the app.
- We Need to Gawi-Bawi-Bo for It
Gawi-bawi-bo is the Korean version of Rock-Paper-Scissors. While this may seem a child’s game, here in Korea Land, it is far from it. Who moves first in a game? Who gets the last slice of pizza? Who pays for the next round? Don’t fight; just Gawi-bawi-bo it!
- The Beer is Service
I had not a clue what that term met after the server in our restaurant placed the beers before a group of us while w waiting to be seating in a popular Korean meat restaurant. I love Service! What’s Service? Basically, it’s something in Korea where someone gives you something for free, smile, and say Service.
There are several ways which one gets Service. When in a restaurant, like I was, you can get drinks, and sodas for Service. In the 90 million beauty and makeup shops around Korea, you can get free makeup wipes, samples, and full tubes of lotion as Service. As for the handy hand wipes I like to use, I’ve not had the opportunity to buy any; there’s always a pack attached to something to the others that I’ve bought.
- Moon Yeoung said, “Maybe.”
In case you don’t know Korea shares some things with other countries in Asia by being a high-context culture. What I’ve learned is not communication in Korea is mostly indirect, and what sounds straightforward cannot be taken at their face value. Nope, not here, baby. In understand how Koreans communicate, you really need a basic understanding of Korean culture to know what was being said to you.
For example, when a Korean colleague says “maybe” something will happen, this means that it will happen. Also, if your colleague says, you “should” do something, this means bitch you better be there! So how does that work? Well, if your co-teacher comes to you at 3:55 in the afternoon and you leave work at 4 and tells you, “Black Barbie, maybe there is a staff dinner tonight, and you should come.” This simple statement to my Texas brain translates to, “Hey Black Barbie a staff dinner may happen tonight, I’m not sure, but if you want to come you can”. What this means in Korea Land is “Hey Black Barbie staff dinner tonight, and it’s mandatory that you come.” Well, thank you very much for fucking up MY night!
Now, on my best of days, I’m not the sharpest knife in the box, however, add that to living in a high context culture with very little knowledge of that context is do damn difficult. Believe it or not, it does not take a hell of a lot to piss off a Korean person if you fail to infer something said to you. It’s also your fault if you say one thing and your Korean friend inferred something else.
Case in point, I managed to deeply offend a Korean friend that I was trying to hook with when he asked what kind of restaurant I wanted to go to and I said I didn’t mind. When he suggested a pasta restaurant, and I really wasn’t in the mood for pasta, well, he got mad; fish grease mad as we say in Texas! Now, when I said, “I don’t mind, ” he inferred that I was giving him the full care, control and custody over where we were eating that night. Like a stupid foreigner, I then went back on my word by bitching about what I didn’t want to eat. And Koreans are MASTERS at not having an open discussion about things; it took a while before I realized my big mistake.
Moon Yeoung, another Korean buddy of mine, made me feel better when he said even Koreans have trouble understanding other Koreans intent. Great! Just great Korea! On the plus side, glad to know that it’s just us dumb ass foreigners.