Sunday, December 30, 2007

Korean quirks

Many of you have asked me what is different about the culture here....what are some of the adjustments we have made living here?  So, this is a post all about Korean quirks.  These are some of the things we find silly or irritating or great about the Land of the Morning Calm.

1.  There are traffic lights in Korea:  green means go, yellow means go faster, and red means, well, go anyway.  People honk at you if you stop at red lights.  So why aren't there tons of accidents?  People just sort of avoid each other.
2.  Speed bumps are the name of the game when it comes to back roads.  If you are not on a major highway, speed bumps are a given.  It is common to give directions by saying, after the 7th speed bump, turn right after the cow farm....

3.  Speaking of giving directions, there are no street signs or street addresses, so you just give directions based on landmarks.

4.  When you go anywhere with a parking lot, there are very official men with white gloves that move like robots and direct you to your parking space.  It is done with a lot of flair, even if it is painfully obvious which way you should go, and they always bow as you pass them.

5.  When a Korean accidentally calls your cell phone and you say, "hello," they will then say, "HUH" (in a Tim Allen kinda way).  You say, "wrong number."  They say, "many more words in Korean that you don't understand."  You say, "I only speak English.  You have the wrong number."  They say, "many more words in Korean that you don't a friendly tone as though you are having a conversation."  This will continue until you give up and hang up the phone or say "bye"  to which they will either repeat said "bye" or continue with many more words in Korean that you don't understand.  This happens at least once a week.

6.  No matter how girlish we dress Adeline, even if in a pink dress with flowers and a bow in her hair, Koreans will still ask, "girl or boy?"

7.  The Korean people overall are very stylish.  However, the men wear colors and some styles that are beyond metrosexual.  For example, a pink and purple striped shirt under a v-neck pink sweater, or a coat trimmed in faux fur.  Pat and I play a game when we are out called, "things you would not be caught dead wearing..."

  8.  While on the topic of style, the women here are also big on fashion.  What amazes me is the shoes they wear.  Koreans do a lot of walking, and many of the women wear these crazy cool (and high) heals.  They look great, but I can't figure out how they manage to walk in them all day.

9.  Koreans love babies.  In America, people may smile and tell you your baby is cute, but they would never dream of reaching to hold your baby.  I find it so interesting that even young men will touch her hand and try to get her to smile.  People think nothing of asking to hold your baby, or just picking them up if you are not holding them. 

10.  As I demonstrated in our house tour video, you are always supposed to take your shoes off before walking into someone's home.  It is a nice custom, but it struck me as silly when my washing machine repair man and the man delivering our oil were walking through my house in their socks.


Dave and Jenni said...

Wow, what stories you will have from your time in Korea (and what stories you already have!). I just can't begin to imagine the culture clashes you experience on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing - these things are so interesting to hear about!

keenbliss said...

Yeah, I also love it when they try to take pictures with the kids. We knew we were back in Korea when a little Korean girl came right up to the boys in the stroller and her parents immediatly started taking pictures of them!

Aunt Karen said...

Thanks for sharing the Korean quirks. I really enjoyed reading them. You have a knack for writing. I catch up during my lunch hour at work. We are at the stage now that Mel got home at 1:00 a.m. and Val at 12:35 a.m. for New Year's Eve celebration. Dale and I stayed home, but saw the New Year arrive.

Jenna and Marc said...

LOVE number 7! Marc and I will HAVE to play that game too, we always make comments as well when we are out and about! I was laughing so hard reading all of the quirks...they are ALL so true! Ya gotta have a sense of humor living here and it's always better to laugh than CRY!