Like many other Asian countries, Tetraphobia (the fear of the number four) is common in Korea. This is because the Chinese word for ‘four’ is quite similar to the word for ‘death’. In Korea there are two numbering systems: Pure Korean numbers and Sino Korean numbers. Sino Korean numbers are taken from Chinese numbers so the aversion or fear of the number four is found in Korea too. Many buildings in Korea skip level four and simply go from three to five because of this superstition.
My mother, quickly remembering what I’d told her about this, realised why my husband’s face was so shocked that the ground entrance was actually level four. The hospital is on sloped ground which is why it’s like this. My husband had not realised this when he had entered the hospital, and was alarmed for a second while in the lift my mother pointed this out and pressed the 4 button. So probably not a good idea for Koreans to go to this particular hospital if they are sick…
Thankfully my father is out of hospital and fine now.
I have no idea why they do this… I guess just cultural difference where it’s completely fine to grab someone’s arm or wrist like that and drag them in the direction you want to go. If an Australian guy did this to me I would assume he was really angry with me and I’d likely get defensive and slap him. I’ve said a few times to my husband that when he does it to me in Australia it does kinda look like he is an abusive husband dragging me somewhere!
But like many things, it’s just different in Korea and this type of movement is shown a lot in Korean drama. Either dragging the girl somewhere to talk or pulling her in for a kiss.
All my comics are about real things that happened and the above one is no exception So although my husband does do the arm grab thing it is usually in a mundane situation like that. No romantic kisses or dramatic confessions.
One of the many differences between English and Korean is how direct you are to people. The Korean language has a lot of ambiguity and people often don’t say exactly what they mean. Whereas in English we can be very clear and say exactly what we mean and it’s socially acceptable to speak like that as well. So while native Korean speakers can usually understand each other because they understand the subtleness of the language, it can be hard for someone learning the language.
What is also hard is when a Korean person speaks with the ambiguity of the Korean language but in English!
Sometimes my direct questions are answered this way too often and I can get a bit annoyed!
One time I asked my Korean teacher about this and he said, “If your husband says ‘maybe’ he probably means no.”
Then I asked my husband and he said, “I usually mean yes.”
See? Even Koreans can’t agree on it!
Not something I do a lot but starting to realise why some Korean girls do it… hehehe.
‘Oppa’ is the respectful term used by girls for a guy who is older than them. I don’t usually call my husband that because I use other names couples can use. Because of the popularity of Korean dramas a lot of international fans seem to think that ‘oppa’ is always used by a girl who is in love or in a relationship with the older guy. Not always. It was and still is a normal respectful term to use to a guy who is older than you. It literally means ‘older brother’. I only use it at times where I want to be extra respectful.
Being cutesy like that is called ‘aegyo’ and a big warning here: if you have a Korean partner and you want to try being aegyo it may not work! A lot of guys really hate this and one of their reasons for seeking out a non-Korean partner could be because they want to date someone who does not do this. So proceed carefully!
I love all things Jane Austen but Jane Austen books and adaptations aren’t as popular in South Korea as they are in some other countries. My husband didn’t have much of an idea about what I was talking about when I first started explaining the phenomenon of Jane Austen. This ended up to being to my advantage though. Too often males in western countries can take an instant disliking to anything Jane Austen simply because they have heard it’s something ‘girly’ and old fashioned for women. There are lots of amazing and sensible men who enjoy all things Jane Austen but by far women outnumber men.
I even had a previous boyfriend use Jane Austen as a reason to break up with me (though among other reasons) because he had an irrational fear that I would force him to attend the Jane Austen Festival and dress up in costume. I had no intention of doing that but he had such ridiculous ideas in his head that he refused to listen.
So I was very happy when my husband had no problems with sitting down and watching Pride and Prejudice with me. He wasn’t very familiar with the storyline so it was nice to see someone experience Jane Austen for the first time. He is usually quite expressive and vocal when watching movies and dramas and this was no exception.
The Wickham and Lydia storyline quite upset him. He also watched ‘Lost in Austen’ and had quite a dramatic reaction to the ending which I may make a comic of another time.
Something we can never agree on is how to respect and speak to parents. Because my husband comes from a hierarchical society it is ingrained in him to always be respectful to his parents and not to disagree with them. Whereas I come from a society that is more relaxed about parent/children relationships and I will openly disagree with and contradict my parents. I have a good relationship with my parents but some things I may do or say my husband sees as disrespect. He has trouble understanding this sometimes.
This incident however, was actually one of those times where I was not doing anything that could be seen as disrespectful but he still thought I was! And he thought that for many months!
Warning: don’t ask my husband questions at historical sites as he will just make shit up.
Have you visited Changdeokgung or any of the other palaces in Korea?