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Soju Shots: Perhaps the most notable icon in "Hangover" is the little green bottle Koreans call soju. This rice-based distilled beverage is about 20% alcohol, is ridiculously cheap (about $1USD/ bottle) and is available on just about every block of the peninsula, making it the top choice of those eager to get black-out drunk. Koreans drink so much of it, in fact, that Jinro Soju is the best-selling spirit in the ENTIRE world. And you thought Russia was the town drunk.
Drinking Dominoes: Poktanju, literally "bomb alcohol", is a shot of soju or whisky that is dropped into a glass of beer. In the video, Psy concocts these shots by playing the ultimate game of drinking dominoes. While his version may be a bigger scale of the norm, the "soju train" is totally a real thing in Korea and it's not uncommon to see young Seoulites trying to out-bomb one another on any given night of the week.
Alcohol Etiquette: Because of Korea's Confucian roots, there are a number of rules dating back hundreds of years that still dictate drinking etiquette today. When Psy pours Snoop a shot, we can see him touching his chest with his left hand, signifying his respect for his drinking buddy. There are a few additional rules specific to soju: never pour your own, and don't refill your glass until it's empty.
Love Shot: Koreans place a great deal of value on being in a relationship- their matching underwear proves it- so it's only natural for couples to show off their love when drinking. A "love shot," which is taken by locking arms and chugging simultaneously, is demonstrated by Psy and Snoop, no doubt to illustrate their budding bromance.
Cha, Cha, Cha: Koreans tend to party in rounds, or cha, that usually begin at dinner and can end as late as breakfast, which was most likely the case for Snoopsy, considering the two only had 18 hours to film the video. Depending on the demographic, said rounds involve the consumption of plenty of alcohol and tend to be held at restaurants, billiard halls, the street (no open container law here!), bars, dance clubs and karaoke rooms.
Noraebang: Ah, yes, karaoke. Unlike in the West, karaoke bars, or noraebang, are divided into private rooms to allow for sloppy singing without fear of being judged by complete strangers and to lessen pangs of morning-after shame, which is still pretty much guaranteed. In the video, we watch Psy shake a tambourine, an obligatory karaoke prop, while Snoop raps on the mic. A cameo is made by G-Dragon, an uber-famous Korean rapper and fashion icon, and he mimics the performance style of trot singers popular in 1970s Korea.
Hangover Drinks: By now, it's obvious that drinking plays an important role in Korean culture, from building business relationships to letting off steam after a long day at the office. So how do employed people function after weekday all-nighters? Hangover drinks, of course. Dawn 808, Condition Power and Morning Care are a few of the big brands of these medicinal beverages that are sold in just about every convenience store in the country. Psy is spotted in the video chugging one of these to relieve his hangover, though in actuality, they are meant to be consumed before drinking rather than after the damage has been done.
Morning-After Grub: While Americans tend to reach for greasy snacks to soak up residual alcohol, Koreans go for spicy soups, such as haejangguk ("soup to chase a hangover") and cup noodles, readily available at the corner mart. Jajangmyeon, or black bean noodles, is another popular choice, as it's the country's biggest delivery option, perfect for those who just can't quite get out of bed. Koreans also love eating this dish in billiard halls, just like Psy does in "Hangover."
Sauna Soak: When Koreans party until the sun comes up, they sometimes crash in a jjimjilbang, or public sauna. These incredible institutions boast amenities such as steam rooms, hot tubs and shared sleeping quarters that are great for sweating out toxins left over from the night before. Unlike Psy does in the video, however, Koreans tend to soak rather than swim. Many can attest that an afternoon at the sauna is the perfect way to cure a hangover. That, or the whole horse of the dog thing, which the unlikely duo seems to prefer.
Only time will tell if Psy and Snoop's collaboration will create a buzz with its high alcohol content and portrayal of Korean drinking culture, or will simply leave viewers hungover on horse dances. Whatever your opinion of Psy's "Hangover," it's safe to say that it ain't over, oppa.
Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless otherwise authorized.
My latest piece over at Sweet Pickles and Corn, on the reason I’m just not destined for eternal life:
New ways to keep in touch
A picture of Master Doui-guksa, who was the first monk to transmit Seon Buddhism throughout Korea.
Hello Again Everyone!!
In this third article, I thought I would talk about Doui-guksa, who was the first Korean monk to transmit patriarchal Seon Buddhism, which became an integral part of Buddhism throughout the Korean peninsula.
Doui was born in Bukhan-gu, which is present day Seoul. His surname was Wang. Before Doui was born, and according to the “Doui Jeon” (Biography of Doui), in the 17th Volume of the Jodangjip (Records of the Ancestral Hall), Doui’s father and mother had a dream of his impending birth. While Doui’s father dreamt of a white rainbow across the sky which entered their room, his mother had a dream that she had slept with a monk. About a month and a half after this dream, Doui’s mom started showing signs that she was pregnant. Strangely, she didn’t give birth for another 39 months. Talk about a long pregnancy!
In 784, Doui made his way to Tang China by ship, which was pretty standard for Korean monks at that time. When he first arrived, he visited Mt. Wutai-shan. While there, he was ordained a monk at Baotan-si Temple in Guangfu. After becoming ordained, Doui headed south for Mt. Caoxi-shan (or Mt. Jogye in Korean). There, he paid his respects to the sixth patriarch of Seon Buddhism, Huineng, who is still enshrined there to the present day. According to legend, when he arrived at this temple, the temple doors mysteriously opened for him on their own accord. After his visit to Mt. Caoxi-shan, he traveled to Kaiyuan-si Temple next to help further his studies under Master Zhizang, who was a fourth generation disciple of Huineng. Doui attained enlightenment under Master Zhizang’s guidance.
Borimsa Temple in Jangheung, Jeollanam-do.
Eventually, Master Doui returned to the Korean peninsula in 821, where he established a small temple to teach. This temple was located in Jangheung, Jeollanam-do; and while there, he started to transmit the little known Seon doctrine of meditative Buddhism. Doui was also known as a strong critic of scholastic-driven Buddhist practices, which were prevalent during his lifetime.
Doui’s main disciple was Yeomgeo, whose main disciple was Chejing (804-880). Master Chejing was to later expand the little known temple that Doui had founded. This temple is still around today, and it’s known as Borimsa Temple. In doing this, Chejing founded the Gaji-sanmun (Buddhist Wisdom Sect), as the first of the nine Gusan-seonmun (Korean Seon’s Nine Original Sects). As a result of this lineage and his efforts, Master Doui is held in high regard as one of the key founders of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, which is the largest sect of Buddhism throughout South Korea.
In 825, after retiring to Jinjeonsa Temple in Mt. Seoraksan, Doui-guksa passed away. Master Chejing put it best when he wrote about Doui’s brand of Buddhism that it was “the tenant of unconditioned spontaneity,” which sums up the new brand of Seon Buddhism that he brought to the Korean peninsula. Doui-guksa’s budo, which houses his earthly remains, can be found at Seoknamsa Temple in Eonyang, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Doui-guksa’s budo from Seoknamsa Temple in Eonyang, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Before I write a single word, I want to preface this with my awareness that my advice is based only on my own experience- I am not, by a long shot, the expert on cross-cultural office relations. However, I do get along quite well with everyone in my office, so if that's proof enough for you, please read on!
|Step 1: Eat delicious food together.|
If you've spent any time at all on waygook.org, you've probably run across plenty of posts about strained NET/CT relationships, chilly behavior of Korean teachers toward foreign teachers in the office, and all manner of difficulties arising out of everything from deep-seated cultural differences to simple miscommunication.
Seeing as I'm lucky enough to consider many of my coworkers (not just coteachers) to be friends, here are my personal tips for getting along with coworkers in Korean public school. As I've never worked in a hagwon, I'm can't say if the same rules apply.
note: this post is targeted more toward coworkers other than coteachers. I'll write a post about getting along with your coteachers next!
1. Your culture, their culture: know the difference!
So here you are, settling into your new job in lovely South Korea. You came from the US, from Ireland, from South Africa, Australia, wherever. Now, my first advice, and something that I admittedly tend to harp on about, is this: South Korea is not your native country. It's not the US, or Ireland, or South Africa, or even Australia. Really. I promise. The sooner you remember this, the happier you and everyone around you will be.
Not to rag on waygook.org again, but the "What Do You Refuse To Do?" thread just illustrates my point so well, I can't avoid mentioning it. Some refusals are reasonable, such as "wear a surgical mask [while sick]" or "eat dog" or even "care about Dokdo." Some complaints, on the other hand, ramp up my crankiness level at a worrying rate. Refusals include "sitting on the floor in restaurants," "learning Korean," going to work dinners, and in another post that I can't find at this moment, a poster complained about students constantly greeting him in the hall and having to respond. Oh the horror. Friendliness. How will you ever survive?
As The Korean wrote in a post about ESL teachers in Korea:
Even when ESL teachers come to Korea with best intentions, they often come strikingly uneducated about Korean history and culture. Korea is a unique place; no other country in the world brought itself out of utter poverty to a leading economic power within a few decades while surviving two devastating wars under two different countries' occupation. Many things about Korea require a radically different mindset from any other country’s mindset to understand properly – which is really what being exposed to a different culture is all about.
This is exactly the point I am constantly trying to make. There is an arrogance that comes with speaking the global lingua franca. In the majority of the world, speaking English will be enough to get by on. Sure, that's fine if you're just vacationing (though personally I believe that even tourists should learn basic greetings in the native language), but living/work and visiting for a week or two are entirely different animals. In the one case, you're merely on the outside looking in- take a few pictures, try some food, then go home. However, living and working in a foreign country entails quite a lot more, as I like to call it, cultural chameleon...ing. I need to work on that one.
|Guys am I Korean enough yet??|
To circle back around to my point, try to understand the culture you're in. Greet your coworkers in the morning, and when you see them in the hall. Do a bit of research, try to understand where they're coming from. Before you take offense at a comment or action, stop and consider the intention. Plenty of things that would be considered incredibly rude in the US are completely normal in Korea; comments about physical appearance/weight come to mind first. This is not to say that explaining to someone that, in your own country, such and such thing is not done/done differently is a no go. Just remember, before you get all butthurt and rant your feelings on waygook, that not everyone has the same background as you.
On a related note...
2. Learn Korean!
I cannot stress enough how important this is. The amount you want to learn is up to you, but please, please, for the love of...something, learn some Korean.
Maybe it's just greetings. You'd be surprised how far a couple of 안녕하세요's will get you (for the as-of-yet uneducated, 'annyeonghaseyo basically means hello). Kick it up a notch with 잘 먹어습니다 (enjoy your meal) and 반갑습니다 (pleased to meet you) and you'll be in good graces for the rest of eternity, barring some horrible social faux pas.
Also, hangul (the Korean alphabet), is actually super easy to learn. I know, I know, it looks complicated and scary, but it's actually (according to some) one of the most linguistically perfect alphabets in the world. The shapes of the characters are modeled after the shape of your mouth when you say them! Maybe that's only exciting to a linguistics nerd like me, but I stand by my excitement. It's certainly very logical, once you get the hang of it, and believe me, being able to read the menu in a restaurant on the names of bus stops on a map is the most wonderful feeling.
|The secrets of this manuscript could be yours for the taking!|
It's also pretty fun to buck foreigner stereotypes. If I had a nickel for every time someone responded to my basic Korean with "Omg your Korean is so good! Most foreigners never learn Korean. It's so hard/they're lazy/etc", I could build my own school out of nickels! Maybe. Probably not. My Korean is not good enough to warrant this response, believe me, but it feels good all the same.
Now, learning even the most basic Korean phrases will help with my next piece of advice, which is...
3. Try to Be Involved
If you've read anything about having a job in Korea, it's likely that you've come across the famed work dinners, or 회식. These gatherings usually involve lots of food, drink, and most importantly, a relaxation of social boundaries and a chance to bond outside of the office environment.
|Bulgogi marinated in peach sauce, all on the company card.|
Beyond the company dinners, always offer to help out with events. Odds are, you'll be assured that no, they don't need any help, but the mere fact that you offered means a lot. For instance, at the end of the school year, right around Christmas, there was a big school festival, with everything from an art show to various dance and music performances by students and teachers. I'd mentioned earlier in the year that I played the violin, but thought nothing of that fact until the music teacher approached me one day with the idea of us playing a duet at the festival. I was flattered, and thanks to his charming smile, I agreed.
The whole experience was really great. Even though the ladies in my office refused to let me help them with the setup, possibly because explaining what needed to be done to the clumsy foreigner was more trouble than it was worth, I still had something that drew me in to the spirit of the event. We practiced constantly, well aware that we had an audience of roughly 900 bored middle school students to impress. Despite my fears, the whole thing went off without a hitch, and 5 months later people still bring up my performance in conversation at lunch.
Anyways, that whole long ramble was just to illustrate my point; get involved! It won't suck, I promise! In fact, it usually ends up being really fun, even if you don't always know exactly what you're agreeing to participate in.
4. Go the extra mile
My explanations are getting shorter as my list gets longer. This one is pretty basic, and probably applies to jobs in any country, but I wanted my list to have 5 points, don't judge me.
If you're working in public school, I'm going to assume you're on a contract like me, which means that technically you only have to be in school from 8:30-4:30, and anything extra is overtime. "That's great!" you think, right? That means I can leave at 4:30 every day and have glorious long evenings all to myself.
Technically, this is true. However, most of your coworkers are likely going to be coming in earlier and/or staying later (whether or not this is a good practice is a debate for another time), and while I don't have any evidence to back this up, I imagine that seeing the young foreigner constantly arriving last and leaving first would not sit well.
So, my advice? Come in early once in a while. Stay a little late on days when you have a bit more to do, organize your classroom, chat over a cup of coffee with the person you sit next to, anything that strikes your fancy. If you're magically on top of your lesson plans, bring your Korean homework and do it at work!
I know this is probably controversial, since this is technically working overtime without getting paid for overtime, but let's be honest, will the odd half hour once or twice a week really kill you?
This also applies to helping out with stuff beyond teaching your classes. I've helped the IT guy understand difficult metaphors in Jason Mraz songs. I once read a speech aloud for a teacher's husband while he recorded me, so he could practice his English pronunciation before a big speech at his company. On a memorable day during Winter break, I teamed up with my office mates to rearrange and clean our entire office, much to the surprise of everyone who came in the next day.
5. Bring Food
Look, this one is really easy. Everyone likes food. Except people on diets maybe? But I'm not counting them because they secretly like food, they're just pretending they don't for the sake of health or beauty whatever. There's a rumor that my office is cursed; stay here long, and you're bound to gain weight, thanks to all the snacks everyone brings in.
|The irresistible charm of eggplants.|
|Guaranteed to make you fat: baked sweet potatoes and rice cakes.|
|Guess which one is me?|
So there they are, my 5 suggestions for getting along happily with your Korean coworkers. As I said before, I'm not a cultural expert, an expert on how to make friends, an expert on Korean schools...can you see a trend?
What I do know is that I consider many of my fellow teachers to be friends, and some even feel like family, so I must be doing something right.
Do you work in a Korean school? Any more tips for happy office relations? Think my advice is dumb? I'd love to hear from you in the comments~!
Look! A new update! Just like I promised! Also, thanks to everyone who came out to watch me stream this comic. Here’s hoping I can do it again next week!
Over the years, it seems like more and more western goodies have been making their way to South Korea. It’s kind of getting to the point where there’s no real reason for me to bring things from home anymore. Granted, there are still a large number of items that don’t exist here (more mac n cheese, please!), but it’s no longer impossible to find necessities and luxury items that I used to beg my friends and families from back home to send me.
The bad thing is that I now have to try a lot harder when purchasing gifts from home for my Korean friends and students. The promises of “cool American snacks” just doesn’t have the same draw when they can run out and get everything themselves.
Got any questions, comments, or maybe even some delicious cookies you want to send through the internet? Feel free to contact us at dearkoreacomic at gmail dot com.
You can also leave comments on the comic’s Facebook Page!
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