Dear Korea #090 - Sorry for the Wardrobe Malfunction

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Argh, how embarrassing. Not only did I miss last week’s update (here’s a silly, sad comic to make up for it), but this week’s is also late. If it helps, I’ve been suffering all morning with a wicked case of food poisoning that was brought on by delivery fried chicken from last night. The betrayal hurts so much worse than the tummy ache.

While the situation present in the comic may not apply to every city in Korea (I think Busan may be more forgiving?), it’s one I’ve seen fairly often in Gwangju. From what I can gather, it’s generally looked down on to wear loose clothes that tend to expose parts of the upper body (especially the shoulder and chest area). Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong! Now, tank tops aren’t exactly treated like formal wear where I’m from, but I was surprised to see how taboo it was to wear such things in public when I came to Korea. I guess it’s a good thing I like boring graphic tees.

The first time I really noticed the difference was when I went to a spa with a couple of male friends (we all went to get our toes eaten by fish). The women asked us to change out of our pants and into a pair of shorts they provided us, so we did just that. One of my friends just happened to be wearing a nice button up shirt over a plain tank top, so he took it upon himself to remove the nicer shirt before coming back out. The reaction he got was priceless. Most of the women that were working turned away, covering their eyes while nervously blushing and giggling. We were initially quite confused, making all sorts of weird guesses as to why they were behaving in such a way. It wasn’t until one of them dragged me aside and begged me in Korean to tell my friend to put on a proper shirt that I realized what the situation actually was. My poor buddy was so embarrassed.

It really is interesting to see what is and isn’t socially acceptable in certain countries. I can think of a couple of fashion trends here that would have trouble fitting in back in Texas. I know the difference in styles and overall body types can be difficult for many expat females around here. Here’s just hoping I have yet to offend anyone too much!


Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

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