Woohoo! TLDRs! Haven’t done these for a while! We were supposed to do one last week, since we do them every second week, but with Martina’s busted ankle she needed to rest, so we postponed it until this week. Sorry guise! We’re back to our normal schedule now!

Anyhow, this week’s TL;DR question was quite easy, and we had lots of things that we excluded from the video, which we’ll talk about a bit here:

1) The X-arm crossing: whenever we go to a store and they don’t have something in stock, they cross their forearms and say “no.” Saying no would have been enough, but the arm gestures are just overkill; wonderful, wonderful overkill, that we have at first adopted in jest, but now do regularly, unfortunately, to which our friends give us the same confused look we gave the store clerks when we first met them.

2) Hand Phone: We call our cellphones handphones now. WHAT THE EFF?!?! Why call it a handphone? Is there a foot phone? Using the word “hand” is totally redundant. Like “this is mouthfood.” Anyhow, even though we hate the word, we use it all the time, and confuse the bajesus out of our Canadian friends. Thanks Korea! ARGH!

3) Intolerance of Salty Food: Now, this isn’t really a habit as much as a taste. We find that whenever we travel back to Canada, we can barely eat anything for the first few days, because it’s so overwhelmingly salty that we gag. No joke here. It’s really, really salty. Korean food doesn’t use a lot of salt, it seems, while North American food uses too much. So, after living here for a few years, our taste buds have totally changed.

4) Looking both ways before crossing a one-way street: Gotta be done. Or you die.

5) Momomo instead of blahblahblah: Korea’s version of “blah blah blah” is “momomo” We say it all the time now. Again, quite awkward when you slip up in front of your non-Korean friends.

6) Forks are awkward: We’ve been using chopsticks with everything now, and whenever we’re given forks to use we’re so…confused. Not that they’re confusing to use. They’re a lot easier than chopsticks. Forks are just so…barbaric. I don’t want to stab my food anymore. I want to pick it up. Chopsticks let you do that. It’s like, the more humane way to eat food. Sometimes we go to Korean restaurants and they won’t give us chopsticks, probably because they think we can’t use them, but we’re so much more comfortable with them now!

That’s it for now, I think. We could go on for a long time, but we already wrote a MASSIVE blog post today about Engrish in Kpop. We’ll try to keep this of reasonable length. Let us know if there’s anything we missed. Any habits you dropped or adopted since coming to Korea? I’m sure we’ll read the comments and be like “OH MY GOD HOW DID WE FORGET THAT?!?!” Ha!

On a side note: did anyone notice the new lighting? We got new lights and we’re totally stoked. We look so much crisper now, I think. Sorry. Nerd comment there. Carry on!

  1. I spent two year in Japanese classes and I still have a hard time not bowing. It causes some level of discomfort with my Chinese in-laws at time though. They consider bowing to be a very classist habit from the old days. = /

  2. I live in America but like I watch so many korean cultural videos and now if I’m greeting a teacher I have the tendency to bow and it gets really awkward and my teachers are like what are you doing and then I have to explain everything and it’s a habit I’m trying to break

  3. What I would find hilarious is if they people that see this vlog start unconsciously imitating your mannerisms…
    Who am I kidding?…. yesterday I did the X-arm crossing…. only by watching you …

  4. oh the hand phone….. i love it when you said “is there a food phone?”
    i myself lived in canada for a looong time and i got used to saying cellphone.
    so whenever i go back to korea to visit my family, people are like, ‘what is a cellphone?’

  5. although i am not martina, i can answer that for you, except for simon and martina’s religion part (i am convinced that they are either atheists or agnostics…?)
    all i can say as a korean is that only 10% of the population is korean.
    remember just because a person says he is a christian doesn’t mean he’s devout. a lot of church goers
    drink alcohol and rarely but have pre-marital sex.
    don’t forget that korea is NOT a country founded on christianity like europe.

  6. Since my grandmother is korean and is teaching me, i have a habit of bowing and shaking hands with my hand on my arm and i live in america so they think im weird considering i dont look foriegn at all

  7. Even though I like all your videos, for me TL:DR is by far my favorite.

    You guys rock!

  8. As a fellow Canadian I was curious as to what you miss the most about Canada? (….besides ranch and cheese, which I would die without as well!)

  9. So, you’re telling me that when I go to Korea I’m going to need to bring my own salt stash? Because I. Put salt. On EVERYTHING. Like seriously, I don’t know how I don’t have chronic dehydration, I LOVE salty food.

    And not holding doors open pisses me off so bad. I live in America and I just can’t stand it. Like, I can understand when girls don’t wait by the door to hold it open for other people, but even then most girls will do that awkward look-behind-while-continuously-pushing-the-door thing. People not doing that would just make me so…URGH!

    When I go to Korea, I’m holding the door open. Screw everyone else.

  10. eheheh… we do the X hand gesture in japan too… and i do it ALL THE TIME too (especially) … it is usually accompanied with a big “dame!” which means “no” or “wrong” or “don’t do it!!!” yeah… i do it when i go home too… also i tend to always bow to people (a little, nothing crazy) when i go home and it’s really hard to stop myself! lol.

    those things are funny! ^_^

  11. “Korean food doesn’t use a lot of salt”
    You’ve been avoiding the side dishes and red soups, haven’t you? Those are LOEADERD wtih salt. They’re so loaded with salt it made me spell LOADED wrong. Yesterday I saw a link on facebook (lost it now) saying that one bowl of kimchi jigae, by itself, meets the maximum daily recommended amount of salt, and jambbong is even higher.

    I totally agree about chopsticks. They’re like little, more dextrous fingers. And eating salad with a fork is stupid.

  12. I developed some “Korean habits” long time ago… but after almost 7 months in Seoul it definitely became stronger. Seriously, bowing and using two hands is totally automatic now. Not to mention some Korean words and expressions which half of my friends (thanks God the rest are also interested in Korea) have no idea about…
    Sometimes I even don’t know which thing/habit/behavior is not Polish/European… For me it’s just all natural xP

  13. haha do you say “handeu-pone” and not hand phone?  I don’t even say cellphone, I just say cell or phone.  I totally picked up the aish/aigoo thing when I started watching dramas :/

  14. Where do you live?  Not sure if other areas have access, but if you live in North America, DramaFever & Viki are safe and have good quality.  DF’s subs are more professionally done, and viki is mostly fan sub, which I prefer actually.  If you have access to Hulu, they combine access to DF/Viki dramas.  DF/Viki/Hulu have ads while watching, and I don’t have a problem with speed.  I feel mysoju/dramacrazy have too many pop ups, not good quality, and you can’t guarantee all parts of the episodes are there.  
    Also, if a drama you want to watch is not licensed you can probably even find it on youtube and there’s also kimchidrama.

  15. omg you talk fast XDD surprised i understand :p  it’s weird because I have never been anywhere (forever stuck in Canada) and yet I have picked up different gestures, like slight bowing or nodding or the way I wave someone over or how i point to things…i think i watch too many Japanese and Korean shows/dramas ^^;

  16. Go to mysoju.com  That has Korean, Japanese, and Chinese dramas with English subs.  It has about every drama you can think of.  I highly recommend it!

  17. I have totally picked up the habit of bowing. Or, well, not really bowing. It’s like I nod my head in a half-bow whenever I say ‘thank you’ or similar things to anyone who is not a friend or family member. I do it unconsciously, but I notice if I don’t do it, because then I feel really rude, lol XD

  18. i picked up bowing habit too…from mangas, manhwas and animes…so everytime i met adults n had to show respect i would bow (not 90 degrees though)…i did it even with my frens..
    but i dropped doing it with my frens cuz they thought i was swinging and being childish…

  19. i don’t even live in korea but a few words have already infiltrated my vocabulary via dramas and kpop so i answer the phone with yoboseyo or ne (which creates a nice awkward silence where im like: hello? o.o and he/she is like …oh hi), i also say kamsamnida, which again has the person awkwardly like smiling and nodding, guessing that it ‘proabably’ means thank you aaaand sometimes i use mianhae too… i once almost sang the birthday song in korean also O.o

  20. I’ve been working in a Korean company for 3  years now and my co-workers are mostly Koreans. Naturally I’ve adapted some of their gestures and expressions which is REALLY embarrassing when I unwittingly apply them to random people.  As mentioned in your blog, bowing and  putting-your-hand-under-the-other-extended-hand are just a few of the habits I’ve been using..and in the last family reunion we had?? yeah..AWKWARD! They were like,WHY are you bowing?? LOL!

    Also, OMO!, DAEEEBAK!, JJANG!  are just a few of the expressions that is now a part of my usual conversation~ 

  21. Well… When I lived in Australia we called it a ‘Mobile’ @_@ Here in Canada we just say Phone.. i think?

  22. I noticed the lighting, it’s really quite pristine and aesthetically pleasing.

  23. Kekeke, I’ve also developed some strange habits… even though I live in Toronto, and am a young teen. I recieved a gift card from a teacher at my school and I accidently bowed after saying thank you… and all of my white- washed friends were like, “wtf? did you just bow?” Also I added kekeke to my vocab (as seen at the top) and whenever my friends call my name I respond with “ne?” xD And I answered the phone with “yeoboseyo” instead of hello one time : that was quite awkward… but I just can’t help it I’m Korean- washed !

  24. Okay, love this one! We’ve only been here a month, and I am already doing most of this! haha!

  25. recently a childhood word i starting saying again was boom shakalaka!!!! all thanks to Big Bang!!!

  26. Yesterday, I bought a new cd player for my daughter’s room and the box called it a “portable CD boombox.”  I thought that the term went out with hammer pants :)

  27. (This is posted on the Juno Hair Salon video but I didn’t think it would get answered there since its an old video!)
    Hey Simon and Martina! I love your show. I recently discovered it.

    I noticed a lot of people asked about African-American hair in Korea
    but you guys answered none of those questions. Now I know you wouldn’t
    really know because you yourselves are not of that ethnicity.  What I
    would like to know is if you perhaps saw an Afro-American in the Juno
    Hair Salon at some point in time or if you have any friends who would
    know about this hair in Korea.

    I myself speak zero Korean and never got a phone as a student in
    Korea, so would it be possible that if you do not have the answer to
    this question, that you could ask the people in Juno, perhaps, Cheri,
    when you return there again?

    I would really really appreciate it!

    Thank you guys!

    Signed,Concern Citizen (lol)

    • Hey Mangoxo! I would really strongly recommend heading to Itaewon.  Our friends that were living in Korea that had either naturally very curly hair or were African-American, had terrible experiences with all the normal walk in hair salons because they just didn’t know how to handle their hair.

      All in Itaewon: I’ve heard “Family Hair Salon” has a great reputation, and I don’t know if these two are still around or of their reputation, but I’ve heard of “Ebony Hair” and “Reggae Hair”. Try googling them + Itaewon and hopefully you can find them! I hope this helps! :D

  28. I will be moving to Korea in a couple years so I have been studying the language and culture as much as possible. I have picked up a lot of different habits and tend to say random stuff in Korean without realizing it (that is until I see the look on the other person’s face…). I ride a scooter (yay scooters!) and one thing that is big (at least in the US, I’m not sure about other countries) is sticking your hand out or nodding at another rider. Sometimes it is easier to nod but my nodding has somehow evolved into bowing. Yes, I bow at other riders. It will make my day if someone bows back :)

  29. I heard that they only hold the door open for their girlfriend/boyfriend or someone they have a crush on, so that might explain why they are looking at you weirdly.

  30. It’s really interesting the types of gestures you pick up! I do kendo and since it’s Canada, it’s so multi-cultural; there’s Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, African, etc. But when we go out drinking afterwards (omg koreans and their drinking!!!!) I’ve picked up a couple of habits, like bowing when the sensei leave or when pouring/ accepting beer, forcing myself to drink because my senpais tell me too… Thank goodness for your vids! There’ve been a couple moments when, for example, my korean friends like turn away from the sensei to drink or other gestures and I’m like ‘wth… ?’ Now I understand more and with things that especially involve in gestures towards the sensei, I try to copy them.

  31. I don’t live in Korea, but I’ve developed the bowing from years of watching anime (since I was like….8?) and most recently from watching kdramas all year long. It can get really awkward here in the states; one time I had an interview for a job, and I very nearly bowed instead of shaking the manager’s outstretched hand. I wound up doing  a combo with a the handshake and a small bow…..

  32. been stuck with the Koreanwaybug alwell… been watching a lot of of Kpop, Kdrama, Jdrama… so yeah, omo, kekeke are in my vocabulary as well as dorama.. and I live in Montreal kekeke…

  33. bc of watching Korean dramas I now say wae and omo. You hear that a lot in Korean dramas. 

  34. the hand gesture thing actually is not just custom in S. Korea. its pretty much in asia country but its rarely practice unlike in S. Korea.

    In Malaysia too they call it handphone instead of cellphone 

  35. This is off topic, but what airline do you use to get to and from Korea to Canada? My sister and I are planning a trip, but we don’t know what airline to go with.

  36. I similarly do the bowing thing, but I’ve never been to any country outside of the US. My habit came from taking Japanese classes in high school and having to do the traditional greeting and ending of class. Now people think it’s because I’m not from the US…but I am…but I’m not….melting pot confusionnnn!

  37. The handing over thing we do in Africa but with your elbow touching hand up.  It was in the past to prove that you were not holding a weapon in your other hand (sign of dishonesty, mistrustful etc.)  I still do it in America sometimes.

  38. cell phones are commonly known as handphones in Singapore too. and regarding how Korean food does not use much salt… i just read this article yesterday which suggests otherwise lol. 


  39. Uh oh, Martina busted out the Rapper’s Delight, w00t w00t!

    Uh oh… I’m realizing this is going to be a long response thing, so I apologize for my TL;DR comment. xD;;

    I do the “elbow thing” when I’m eating or sharing food/drinks, but that’s an under-the-elbow thing. This started happening when I saw this on a food show about Korea, and a woman in a hanbok did it to serve tea. When I catch myself doing it, I’m just like… WTF, Vicky… You’re serving mac & cheese (or something).

    Bowing just comes naturally. I bow all the time to people when I’m apologizing for something simple like almost running into them. At times I bow in greeting as well.

    We’re usually quiet in public anyway, so that wasn’t new for us when we were on trains and such. There were times when big group of kids/teens were “loud,” but it was due to seeing us very foreign people, thus an opportunity to practice English. LoL. There was one instance when an older man was loud on a train… and was apparently saying racist things in regards to my friend, who is white/blonde/blue-eyed. Everyone around him felt so uncomfortable, but we just kind of looked at him briefly – though I continued to do so with a smile and smiled at those who felt bad and met eyes with me. Another older Korean eventually got him to quiet down, and he ended up leaving.

    I’m pretty sure I giggled the first time someone in Korea x-armed me – at the Paris bakery place, but I completely understood since, well, there I was, unable to speak in their language and vice versa. The second time was more rude since I was ignored up until the eventual x-arming. :P

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