You Know You’ve Been in Korea too long when…

This is The Athele Series blog about writing, but every once in awhile an idea comes along that’s just too good to pass up.  The was modeled and inspired by the people over at From Blue to Yellow.  Oh, it’s been done a few times for Korea, but I wanted to take a crack at it.  You all know how much I love Korea, so understand this is all in good fun… and all pretty close to fact.

You know you’ve been in Korea too long when…

1. You eat Kimchi with everything.  Everything.
2. Bus drivers driving, crossing streets, and mopeds in your sidewalk no longer faze you.
3. You know how to avoid the nice church-goers trying to entice you into “English Servic-y” with animal crackers or hard candy on Saturdays.
4. Hangul no longer looks like a bunch of scribbly lines.  In fact, you think it’s pretty much genius.

Line, line, middle fingery thing, line, door, squiggle... oh whatever, it's a Coke.

5. Sitting outside the Family Mart with Soju and Cigarettes is now normal.
6. Noraebang comes up at every drinking session.
7.  …and you have scored 100 pnts in a Noraebang.
8. …more than once.
9.  You no longer even look around for a trashcan before tossing your cup.
10. You use two hands to give people things.  Even if they’re a foreigner.
11. You’ve been to a Jimjibang. (Bath house)
12. Things which simply have no explanation are shrugged off with “Eh.  It’s Korea.”

Example A. Pikachu with fat rolls.

13. You’ve had a Korean try to talk to you while naked in a Jimjibang.
14. You are always suspicious of the listed price.
15. You have come to expect free facial products when buying something at a cosmetic store.
16. Adjumas no longer scare you.
17.  You have managed to beat an adjuma down the stairs or onto a bus.
18. 11/11 is the coolest day ever and you totally know why.
19. You finally have a working understanding of why your three year olds say that they are five.
20. You understand that there is no ‘d’ in “Finished”.

21. You don’t blink when your plain pepperoni pizza has corn on it.
22. People singing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ during political campaigns has become common place.
23. You understand Fan Death.
24. K-pop was cool before Girls Generation was on Letterman.
25. You go to the beach and aren’t surprised when you are the most clothed person there… in shorts and a tank top.
26. You no longer oggle at women wearing six inch stilletos while walking on ice.

Or down mountains. You know. No biggie.

27. You have accepted that you will be the tallest person on the subway car… possibly the subway train.
28. If you have blue eyes, they have been oohed and aahed over.  Multiple times.

Sure, I do it, but I'm married to him!

29. Dried seafood doesn’t bother you any more (even when it still has eyes).
30. You’ve bleached your hair blonde to see what being a celebrity is like.
31. Your vitamins come from smartie-flavored drinks, not pills.
32. You’ve given up looking for garlic bread without sweetener.
33. When someone offers the explanation “it was a soju kind of night” you instantly understand (and sympathize with) their illness.
34. Rock, Paper, Scissors is an art form, and can settle anything.
35.  You know at least three drinking games specific to Soju.
36.  You think that Hanbok will always be the cutest thing put on a kid ever.
37.  You don’t flinch when fruit trucks drive by blaring their prices from loud speakers any more.
38.  You are an expert at placing, grilling, and cutting a variety of meats over a Barbecue type stove.

38b. You think a meal without a million side dishes simply isn't complete.

39.   You are an expert on ramen, and have you favorite brand + flavor. (Bonus points if it’s Kimchi)
40.  You sit on the heated floor in winter.  Even when there is a chair available.
41.   You look forward to spring, but not that two weeks when the Gobi Desert decides to visit.
42. Face masks are no longer useful to you unless they have an animal nose and whiskers.
43.  Good cheese is practically worth it’s weight in gold.
44.  When you say “no” you automatically cross your arms in an X, no matter who you’re talking to.
45.  The peace sign makes an appearance in every one of your photos.
46.  If the peace sign isn’t there, the double-handed-heart is.
47.  You’re somewhat distrustful of anything Japanese.
48.  You’ve accepted that the closest you can find to a plain old cup of coffee is an Americano.  Even at Starbucks.
49.   Smoking in a restaurant no longer seems strange.
50.  And the quintessential sign that you’ve been in Korea too long (which, shockingly, is the same as whether you’ve been in the Ukraine too long…) The Korean Squat.  Feet flat on the ground, knees folded all the way and able to keep your balance long enough to smoke a cigarette or eat a snack?  You’ve been here (or in the Ukraine…or in Japan…) way too long.

As a note, I’m pretty sure that I am physically unable to perform #50.  I’ve tried many times, and always fall over.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into Korean Culture, or if you’re here, recognized a few of your own.

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About Kaitlin

Kaitlin and Michael are co-authors of The Athele Series. They met in summer of 2006 and married in fall of 2009. They both teach English in South Korea. In his free time, Michael writes, plays video games, plays DnD, and idly contemplates world domination. In her free time, Kaitlin writes, runs, dances, and feeds her 'oo-shiny!' complex.

7 thoughts on “You Know You’ve Been in Korea too long when…

  1. Haha took me back to Korea with this post. Thanks for making me laugh :D (2010-2012)

  2. [...] 11. Kaitlin Nichols from the Athele Series blog is another lover of Greek mythos. She’s got some really helpful posts on writing, and some random ones that will make you laugh. She teaches English while living in South Korea, which provides for some pretty great content. [...]

  3. penthepages says:

    This brings back a lot of memories. I spent two years in Korea (96-98) in the Army and can relate to so many of these things. I remember we used to go on what we called a $12 run. We would go to a club in Uijongbu and each get a kettle for $10, then stop at and get chicken cheese ramen on the way back to post at this little restaurant called Mom’s. Good times. Thanks for making me smile. :)

  4. rickinskorea says:

    Very funny. I walked to the convenience store in my pyjama bottoms yesterday, thought that was fairly Korean!

  5. Living in Japan for almost two years now, there are a lot of similarities. So true!

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