Cultural Musings · Korea

Korean Culture 101

No pics today sorry…  But I will provide you with a dose of Korean culture.

I had spouse orientation today from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.  And no, I did not win the “Who-Can-Put-Your-Gas-Mask-On-The-Fastest” contest.  This is a class the military offers to spouses to “inform” us about all the goings on at our new base and to get us oriented to the Korean culture.  I missed the Jan. orientation so I figured I would go to this one.  I had mixed feelings about it.   On one hand I wanted to go and meet some potential friends but on the other hand I didn’t want to go and listen to bitter wives complain about all the military doesn’t do for them.  I hate “bitch-fests” and sometimes these meetings turn into just that.  Luckily, I experienced the former.  There were 5 of us there today, most of us having just arrived about a month ago and one poor girl who got off the plane 18 hours prior to the seminar.  I got a lot of logistical info from the Commanders and met some cool girls but my favorite part was the multicultural briefing.  It was given by a cute little Korean lady named Ms. Kim who works for the Airman & Family Readiness Center or AFRC, as the Air Force likes to call it, you know they love their acronyms.  Her information was, by far, the most entertaining and I thought I would pass along these tidbits of Korean culture to you.

Koreans are very superstitious.

1) They do not like red ink.  They never write a person’s name in red ink because they say it means they will die soon.  Yikes!  I must remember to be careful in school when correcting the kid’s paper, NO RED INK!

2) They also do not like the number 4, it’s the equivalent to our feelings on the number 13.  No hospitals have a 4th floor, because, once again, it means you will die.  I didn’t realize Koreans were so morbid.

3) Girlfriends and Boyfriends don’t buy each other shoes because it is believed that the person will use these shoes to run away from you.  Well there goes my idea of Manolos for Valentine’s Day.

Korean hospitals are not like American hospitals.  If an American is admitted to a large Korean hospital they are typically put in the “International Wing.”  This means we get a privacy curtain and meals provided for us.  Korean hospitals are BYOF, Bring Your Own Food.  When Koreans are in the hospital, their family is required to bring them food.  I would hope their hospital trays can accomodate all that kimchi.

Koreans have huge birthday parties for their children at 100 days after birth and and one year.  This is because up until recent day the death rate of babies was very high.  They have huge parties where they prepare special food and present the baby to friends and family.

In large crowds, it is not unusual for Koreans to push and shove you out of the way.  It is not considered rude and if you are in their way, they will not hesitate to make it known.  Americans are much more courteous in our crowd moving skills.

Next weekend is the Lunar New Year.  Typically, during LNY, Koreans travel to their hometowns to pay respect to their deceased relatives.  The roads and trains are said to be extremely crowded with people travelling to the countryside.   I think Joe and I will head up to Seoul and try to do some shopping and sightseeing.  We’ll be sure to take lots of pics.

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One thought on “Korean Culture 101

  1. GIRL, YOU ARE THE FUNNIEST!!! I read your cultural musings with fascination and you never disappoint. The part about having enough room on the hospital tray table for all the kim chi was hysterical!!! We love you tons. Mom & Dad

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