Being naked in Korea?
Korea has a culture where people go to public baths and are very comfortable to be naked around other people (though usually the same sex). There also isn’t any shame in undressing and changing clothes in front of friends, whereas many Western cultures have issues with that and there is a lot more ingrained shame when it comes to bodies.
Hugh does tend to be quite the nudist (maybe more than others) and once the weather is warm enough he doesn’t see the point of wearing clothes at home. Currently he is always exercising naked too. I’m sorry neighbours. But after I started talking about this on the blog, and with friends who also married into Korean families, I’ve heard that many Koreans can be quite similar in stripping off in their own home, at least down to just underwear.
I think men possibly have more freedom than women in traditional homes. Traditionally the parents’ room is also the living room which means a lack of privacy. When we lived in the countryside I never walked in on my sister in law or mother in law changing but constantly saw Hugh and my father in law in just their underwear. As a westerner who is used to parents’ rooms to be very separate and very private it was quite confronting and a big cultural difference.
Another contrast is that in Australia showing cleavage is okay and men often exercise without a shirt in public which just isn’t seen in Korea. Every country has a different expectation of what is acceptable and how much of the body is shown and where it can be shown.
I definitely think ondol heating (underfloor heating) has something to do with it. As Hugh mentioned, when there is ondol heating anywhere can be your bed because Koreans don’t usually have problems with sleeping directly on the floor. When the floor is warm and comfortable it makes sense to strip down and be the most comfortable possible. Also many Korean homes don’t have sofas or that type of furniture so everything is done down on the floor. It can be very relaxing, but I find it hard to be motivated when laying on a heated floor!
Original comic can be found here.
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Is Hugh really respecting my culture or just enjoying getting revenge? We talk about the pinch and a punch comic in this video. In this comic I do the Australian culture thing of “a pinch and a punch for the first of the month” but Hugh knew the second part of it and made sure he did it to me. Now I need to be careful if I want to pinch and punch on first days of the month.
As we talk about in the video, Koreans seem to LOVE punishment! Their games tend to always have punishments and even when playing more western games in Australia with Koreans, they had to add and change the games to make sure people had punishments. For example, when we played ‘Marco Polo’ in the pool they added the punishment of brutally dunking and splashing the person who was in if they didn’t catch anyone. I remember protesting a lot saying that not every game needs punishment!
If you’ve played games with Koreans you have probably experienced or at least seen the intense flicking to the forehead or hands that happens as punishment. Watch out! Especially watch out for people like Hugh who have no mercy.
Do you have something like “a pinch and a punch” in your country? I have a feeling this comes from British culture? Also what types of punishments do people like to give when playing games in your country? Or maybe you don’t need punishments? Perhaps there are punishments that don’t actually involve physically hurting someone!
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We are on Korean radio every week! We are on a show called Global Family on tbs eFM Koreascape every Wednesday at 9:30am. Another international couple Emil and Yumin who are a Danish/Korean couple are also on the show with us, as well as the host Kurt. This show is all in English.
We’ve done a lot of radio before but always as one time guests and we do get asked the same questions a lot. Because this is a weekly series we get to delve deeper into what it’s like being an intercultural couple in Korea. It’s also great to compare to another couple as well and see the different ways people deal with challenges. It will be interesting to see what topics come up. So far it’s been in a chronological order of meeting, getting married, meeting inlaws but it will be great to talk about things we don’t usually get to talk about in interviews. Most interviews, whether it be for articles or radio always ask the same questions, and we get really sick of answering them. But with this radio show we can explore a lot more. Emil and Yumin are great as well and we really enjoy working with them.
What we filmed for this video was meant to be part of a Seoul Life video but I’m now the sick one so we haven’t been able to film the other parts. But we wanted to let people know that we are on Korean radio every week so they can tune in. I know not everyone follows the social media where we announce things like this.
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We talk about the rubbish man comic! Just because you know how to translate something doesn’t mean it sounds good in the Korean language!
Let us know what other comics you’d like us to revisit and talk about. They don’t have to be recent ones, we can dig up some older ones. We actually don’t remember all the comics so it’s fun to go back and have a look.
I have to be honest and say that I did know it sounded bad in Korean when I first said this to Hugh (before I made the comic). But I was being a bit naughty and seeing if he would react. He did.
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Update on Hugh’s progress! He was very diligent at running regularly but the past few days have hindered that because of the yellow dust. Part of the problem with yellow dust is that unless you check religiously, you can get caught out and be exposed to it and then feel really sick for days.
Yellow dust is dust/dirt/sand from the deserts in China and Mongolia that mixes with pollution in China and then comes down to Korea and mixes with Korean pollution. It can be really bad in Spring and affects some people more than others. It brings on flu or cold like symptoms like a sore throat, headache, aches etc. Hugh usually gets sicker than I do. For example my throat is slightly sore but that’s it. He has been very sick and has difficulty talking because of his throat. I do wonder if his childhood where he was exposed to a lot of cigarette smoke affects how his throat handles the yellow dust now. I was hardly ever exposed to cigarette smoke as a child and grew up in the fresh countryside Australian air. But besides from the obvious problems someone might have, I’m not sure what other factors there are in how someone reacts to it. I just know it messes Hugh up a lot.
So that has been very frustrating for his exercise plan because he was been really enjoying running outside a lot. Hopefully it clears soon.
This is just one of the mistakes I’ve made in Korean! It’s hard learning a second language and not knowing how words are related or not related at all. At least Hugh got a good laugh out of my dumb assumption.
Our audience can be quite fragmented. We have people who only read the comics, people who only watch our videos and some who only follow the Nicholalala webtoon. This new series is a way of showing the comics to the YouTube audience and to discuss them further as a couple.
When I posted this comic there were people who said they thought the same thing, so I felt a little less dumb! Let us know what other comics you’d like us to revisit in a video!
Original comic is here.
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I really did think this for a while because I’ve never been to one! I’ve never worked in a Korean company. Luckily it isn’t compulsorily to eat hwe at hweshiks because it seems to be a food that divides people. I’m not really a fan of Korean raw fish. A lot of Korean seafood can be quite chewy and some people do love it being chewy. We don’t though! I’m also glad that we work from home and don’t need to go to hweshiks because a lot of people seem frustrated when they have to attend and they go for such a long time. In Korea it’s very hard to bail and leave early. It’s actually one of the big problems facing Korean families and I’m sure the Korean government could raise the declining birth rate (which they are so desperate to do) if they just had a better work life environment for working parents. It’s hard to have children when work expects so much of your time outside of work hours, especially when it requires heavy drinking.