Friday, September 07, 2012

The quirks of everyday life in Korea

So this post will be a little different from the rest. I havent been anywhere worth writing about lately as we have been going out and spending time in Daegu to try and save some more money. So I thought I would share with you some info on everyday life in Korea.

On the whole Koreans are less friendly than most of the Asian cultures but this does not mean that they are unfriendly it just means they dont always go out of their way to help you. However there are many of them that see a foreigner and just smile this huge smile and yabber away to you in Korean while you stare back at them with a blank expression on your face. Some of them absolutely love us and even though they cant speak a word of English they will chat away in Korean to you even if it means you can only pick up two words! I have had old people on Subways give me their cards and tell me to come visit them! Usually this would be a tad creepy and stalkerish but they are genuinely trying to help you, they want to teach you about Korea and its culture and make you Korean food! And because I can answer their VERY simple questions in Korean they become even more friendly because they know that at least I am trying. In general Koreans also always want to feed you! To not accept food given to you is seen as quite rude so it would not be strange to have just eaten school lunch when some teacher comes and shoves rice cakes, coffee, cookies and who knows what else in your hands. Just nodding, giving a little bow and a smile to this will honestly make their day! It is so nice because just the smallest gesture goes such a long way in Korea.

For example there is this grocery store (mart) that I walk past on my way to school everyday and sometimes I go in to get candy for the kids or to grab a coffee drink before work (Koreans are obsessed with coffee by the way). The old man that works there would always give me this huge smile when I said 안 영하세요(hello) or 감사합니다(thank you) to him.
One morning when I went in to the mart he asked me Your name? so I said Natalie and he said Ah! Me, Mr kim! In my head I was like of course you are If you have to guess what anyones surname is, if you guess Kim you will most probably be right,
So anyways now that he knows my names it is his morning delight to wait at the door and scream hello to me while I am walking past his shop on the way to school.
However what I discovered very shortly after the name exchange happened was that he did not hear Natalie when I said my name but Nasolie
The first time I walked into his store afterwards and he greeted me with Hello Nasolie!! with this huge grin of achievement on his face because he remembered my name I just didnt have the heart to tell him. And now its got to that awkward stage where it has been going on for too long for me to correct him. Anyways it is his daily ritual to stand at the door of his mart and scream NASOLIE!! When I walk past whilst waving ecstatically with two hands! I have to force myself not to laugh out loud every time he does this as my kids all live in the area and give him the strangest looks, probably thinking Who the hell is Nasolie?
However I can be in the foulest of moods in the morning and he just has to do that and I cant help but smile. Tiny little gestures like this really make their day.

I know some of you have seen or heard of it but recently a youtube music video made by a guy in Seoul has gone viral. It is called Gangnam style after the town called Gangnam. There have been remakes all over the world from New york style to Thailand style and they have now made a Daegu style.
I will try and attach the video to this post as it is highly entertaining and you can catch a glimpse of Korean culture in it J

This one is the Daegu parody one 

This is the original one