I love this special. Enjoy.
For my passing thoughts on western holidays in Korea, try these for Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. The short answer is that US holidays have made only minor inroads, so we should be skeptical of antiglobalizers’ claims that globalization is really cultural Americanization/homogenization. Despite 5 decades of huge US cultural influence in Korea, local cultural integrity is pretty intact. I don’t see too much homogenization here; it’s more like hybridization.
So here is a little Westerners-lost-in-Asia humor to tide you over for a week.
Among the expat community here, lots of these ‘You know you have been in Korea too long, when…’ lists circulate on email. Here is a mish-mash of the many I have received over the years. Some are a little punchy; just try to laugh a little. They are meant to be fun and exaggerated.
You know you have been in Korea too long, when…
When you no longer wait for the subway on/off pell-mell to clear; instead you plow in and contribute to it.
When you bow to foreigners too.
When you wear high heels to the beach.
When you fear an imminent Japanese invasion of Pusan.
When you demand steel Korean chopsticks even when you eat at Chinese and Japanese restaurants.
When you use chopsticks even when your Korean dinner partners use a knife and fork.
When you tell your far-too-hot-for-you Korean girlfriend that she needs plastic surgery, and she accepts it without complaint.
When you tell your family that Korean food improves your blood circulation.
When Korean directions – ‘make a left turn at the mountain and go straight for awhile’ – are crystal clear.
When normal women from your home country suddenly appear overweight and underdressed.
When you agree that there are too many foreigners in Korea.
When you bring a dictionary on a date.
When you use your fan’s timer at night.
When you no longer pity the live crabs boiling in the pressure cookers at the street market.
When you prefer Korean beef to ‘imports.’
When you put a picture of yourself on your cell phone instead of your loved ones.
When you enjoy watching street vendors decapitating live shellfish.
When you no longer feel embarrassed talking back to the little kids who point and call you ‘foreigner.’
When you’ve mailed pot to yourself (probably from Canada).
When you smoke in your office and don’t worry or care you’ll get caught.
When you drink in your office and don’t worry or care you’ll get caught.
When you eat meals at FamilyMart.
When you know the HomePlus jingle by heart.
When you’ve stayed a love motel.
When you prefer love motels, because they’re cheap.
When you stop being surprised by ‘service-e-e,’ start expecting it, and then get unhappy when you don’t receive it.
When you automatically assume you should buy all your electronics from Samsung, even though you bought Sony at home.
When you find Arirang TV network a realistic portrait of Korea.
When you finally acquiesce to your Korean girlfriends’ insistence that you wear a tie with sparkles.
When you start agreeing that air-drying your clothes is better than your tumble dryer at home.
When you stop caring that your students laugh at your terrible Korean.
When drinking till memory loss on a work night constitutes ‘improving your network.’
When you stop worrying that your apartment security guard sleeps all night and never seems to be at his desk.
When you start to sort your trash in your apartment.
When you own gold formal chopsticks.
When you’re no longer embarrassed to hit the salons after work; instead you egg your Korean friends to take you with them.
When you keep sandal house shoes at your office.
When you no longer find National Assembly riots hysterical.
When you complain about the quality of the kimchi at restaurants.
When you sit out all night at a small food stand and get loaded with the other ajeossis.
When you start speaking Kongrish-e-e instead of English.
When you have a statue of the happy Buddha on your shelf.
When you keep a bottle of liquor in your office.
When your intestines finally make peace with red pepper at every meal.
When you start styling your hair like Rain.
When you start calling other foreigners ‘wae-guks.’
When you start believing in ghosts, spirits, demons, forest gods, the ancestors, and the 4th floor.
When you re-watch ‘Poltergeist’ for home defense instructions against the ghosts.
When you know who Dangun and the Su-ryeong are.
When you believe in Dangun and tell your students to call you Su-ryeong.
When you actually care about the fate of Dokdo.
When you think making out in the DVD bang is a normal part of a date, not a deportable offense.
When you unthinkingly speak of the “East Sea” to non-Koreans.
When you agree that movies like ‘D-War’ are a global cinema event.
When you no longer miss the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years holiday season.
When you stop holding doors for people.
When you push through a crowd as well as an ajumma does.
When your cell phone danglies outweigh your cell phone.
When you can perform the full Buddhist bow without your knees cracking.
When you accept that kimchi really does ward off SARS/bird flu/Ebola/swine flu/mad cow disease.
When you do mental addition with your one hand on the palm of the other.
When you expect and want kimchi with your breakfast.
When you prefer soju to ‘imported’ liquor.
When you have watched TV on your cell phone.
When you have bought 2 cell phones in less than 1 year.
When you stare back unfazed at school girls smirking at you.
When loudspeakers on fruit trucks add ‘local color’ instead of ‘noise pollution.’
When ‘home’ is one room 40 stories off the ground with no air conditioner.