Thursday, 3 January 2008

Ten distinct Korean practices

I was browsing the Korea Times online and came across this article:
10 Unique Korean Customs and Practices. Pretty interesting stuff, however I can relate to a few of them as the Chinese community here in Malaysia do practice some of these customs.

1) Honey, let's go to a jimjilbang
The jimjilbang (찜질방)is a sauna type facility popular amongst Koreans of all ages. Some patrons even spend the night at a jimjilbang sleeping on floors together in the heated rooms. Stones high in minerals are used to heat the rooms and is said to promote good health.

2) Home sweet Ondol home.
Instead of radiators or the dreaded heat air-conditioner (which I don’t think works for the home because it just blows air around making it colder), Korean homes are heated by hot air or hot water circulating beneath the floors. This system is known as ondol (온돌).

3) Don't pay rent
Wow, the jeonse (전세) method of renting a home is pretty neat, if one has the cash to spare. When renting an apartment, tenants pay the landlord a huge deposit when the lease is signed. Tenant goes on to live in the apartment without paying any rent while the landlord invests the deposit in the bank and collects its interest. When the contract ends, the full deposit is returned and the landlord keeps the interest. Wait a minute… did I just not pay a single cent?

4) Adultery is illegal
Oh yes, we’re all aware of that since the hullabaloo between Ok So-ri, Park Chul and the Italian Chef.

5) No gifts please, just envelops of money
Instead of presents, envelops of cash are given out at weddings, birthdays and funerals. Well what do you know, the Chinese in Malaysia do that too. Hmm… I’m inclined to think that this practice is deeply rooted to Chinese tradition as we’re blatantly money minded. ;p

6) Private tutoring
Oh yes, this is a big thing in Malaysia too. Although I never was enrolled into any, I was either very lucky, or very unlucky... my grades suffered a great deal. Oh well! Ancient history I say! But the private tutoring industry seems a lot bigger in Korea, it is estimated to be worth 20 trillion won.

7) Beating the groom’s feet
Friends of the newly wedded groom string his bare feet up with rope round the ankles and beat strength and stamina into his soles with a dried yellow corvina (a grape vine variety) to ensure a productive honeymoon.

8) Baby destiny
At a baby’s first birthday party, parents line objects such as rice, a pencil or thread for the baby to choose thus determining the baby’s future. If the baby picks rice, then he will never go hungry, pick a pencil and he will be a scholar or choose thread and he will have a long life. Now, modern parents are updating tradition by adding more objects like microphones (entertainer) or golf balls (the next Tiger Woods).

9) Delivery service
Get everything under the sun delivered and Koreans use this service well from having food to dry-cleaning delivered to your home/office/wherever you may be. Convenient for a 3am hunger pang when leftovers just won’t do.

10) Sharing glasses
When you finish your glass of liquor or beer, fill your glass and pass it to your buddy while he does the same. Swapping spit sharing glasses is a symbol of friendship. The Chinese do the same thing by eating from communal dishes at the dining table. Loogie exchange sharing is said to bring ties between friends and family closer. But the practice is becoming less frequent in Malaysia due to hygiene concerns, thank goodness.

Source: The Korea Times
Pic Credit: Galbijim

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Orchid said...

Rooster, what an interesting article.

1) I really what to experience the Korean sauna (jimjilbang) when we visit Korea. =) I've seen it so many times in Korean dramas. It's as popular as the Turkish bath - a must visit when in Turkey! ;-)

2) Don't Pay Rent sounds good!

3) I wonder what a Korean "ang pow" - packet of money looks like.

ps: your "swapping spit" joke is funny ;-)

kpop_rub said...

I ADORED the article (so dang insightful)

2: WOW I have a crappy furnace and no insulation in my house-- its well below freezing and water heated floors sound so nice right about now.. not to mention it prolly adds moisture to that cold winter air that dries skin like crazy!!!

3. OMGGGGG This sounds waaaay too good to be true. I could have my own place <3 -maybe i really should consider moving to Korea :-P

4. Like in Sympathy for lady vengeance when a lot of the women are doing hard time for cheating... how exactly is this proven other than catching in the act and videotaping or having the boyfriend/girlfriend testify against? As I remember from the movie "My Wife is a Gangster" denying sex when married is grounds for divorce or illegal or something!

5) My family gives money out of laziness but here in the US it's perfectly acceptable and fine but alot of people find it sorta thoughtless...

8) I would have gone for the food no doubt!

10) now I'm no hygiene freak (ok I wash my hands like 20 times a day but beyond that i'm a dirty hippy) and i consider double dipping perfectly acceptable behavior at least among family but sharing glasses is narsty!! This is how cold sores(aka herpes) gets passed around... >_< ew no thanks!

shuttlecock said...

interesting post.. however, most of the items listed aren't really "UNIQUE" to Korea.

Clammy said...

I think, for the most part, everyone just calls it Sauna now pronounced out(Sa-oo-nah).

The money thing, here in the U.S. a lot of people do find it thoughtless, depending on how Americanized/westernized thath aspect of gift giving is to tem. For even Korean American weddings though, money tends to be preferred anyways.

Private tutoring isn't always private. It's more likely that you are being sent to Hagwons which is basically a tutor school or "cram" school. It's semi-private where a lot of times you are studying on your own (doing a lot of practice work) with tutors to help you when you need it. There are also classroom type ones. All types of Hagwons and private tutoring tend to be VERY expensive.

Beating the grooms feet... ha ha, you know we don't really do this for fertility or anything anymore! We do this just for fun and sometimes to make the bride and groom suffer! A common thing is to "test" their love for each other by beating the grooms feet until the bride drinks champagne or something out of the grooms shoe! The groom won't want her to drink out of the shoe and keep taking the abuse and the bride will eventually drink because she can't stand to see the groom getting tortured! ha ha!

OMG... Delivery... One thing that a lot of my Korean friends and I miss about Korea is ordering Jjajang-myun and mandoo and having it delivered to our door in an aluminum box in a real bowl! Then you eat it and leave the bowls outside for them to pick up later! Sigh.. every time we see it on tv or are just hungry and at home, we reminisce. You can get it delivered in a disposable containers but it's just not the same!!

It's not really sharing like we are passing along the same cups around the table, we just don't pour our own drinks. Someone else pours your drink while you hold the cup and the you switch. You hold the cup with two hands and the other person pours with two hands. Also, if you are drinking in front of elders, you turn your head to drink.

ladida said...

Pay no rent sounds ridiculously awesome! But what's the catch? How large is this one lump sum payment & for how long is the loan period? o.O
haha..making adultery illegal in US would be a major catastrophe. For the victims, TG marriage is a community property. Sweet, sweet revenge
Giving red(or white) envelopes is still a well practice wedding tradition for Asian Americans(I know - my bro/sis-in-laws are people of many races: filipino, cantonese, cambodian, thai, vietnamese) & i luv to see/witness all different wedding customs. Some are a tad bit embarrassing; others are simply hilarious

Clammy said...

labdida The catch is the sum of money and the period of time. It's usually a ridiculously large some of money, like a huge percentage of the value of the house. They keep the money for contracted amount of time, like years, so they can invest it and then they give you the full amount back. However, you can't get it back until the contracted time is expired. The reason this works is that interest is high in Korea. This kind of sounds great but it sorta isn't because you'd have to save that huge amount first off, and then you can't invest it yourself or yield any interest in it. The interest that you yourself could have gotten could equal a monthly rent cost anyways or more. On top of that, you can't leave or get your money back until the contract expires.

Korea also has a super high deposit system. You can pay a monthly but you pay a ridiculous deposit say like, $10,000 (I'm just throwing that out there) and then a monthly on top of it. It's just like a lease system with a really high deposit.

Orchid said...

Clammy! Oh NOW i know why in dramas the namja (man) will turn their head when drinking in front of parents or in-laws.

I've seen that lots of times and thought...the man must not like drinking alcohol and doesn't want other people to notice his cringe before drinking. * hahaha *

vrosemarie said...

That was a very informative article! It's always nice to know these things especially if you're mad about Korea! I think i saw a similar article on asianbite about korean customs...

ladida said...

haha..orchid. the first few times I watched K-dramas, I also thought how strange the actresses have to turn their heads sideway when they're about to have a drink. At that time, my shallow mind told me that they do it for vanity reasons. Since they're on tv, maybe they think they couldn't drink pretty enough. yeah, looney me XD. Anyway, after a few more dramas, I concluded that they prob'ly do it to show respect to their drinking partner or just to be polite.


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