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Habits We’ve Dropped and Acquired in Korea

March 2, 2012


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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!



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Habits We’ve Dropped and Acquired in Korea


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  1. I am from Europe and I lived in California for quite some time. In order too meet some people, I attended one of these pseudo “universities” that provide visas. So 90% of my classmates were Korean. There, I was introduced to delicious Korean food (home made and in restaurants). I always wondered why my asian friends complained about the “unhealthy American food” (too salty, too much meat, too much grease). Altough I really love Korean food, I think it is quite salty (especially soybean stews). Another confusing thing is that they often considered a dish vegetarian because there were no pieces of meat, but the broth etc was cooked with bones or meat :) they considered a steak as too much meat, whereas the same amount cut up and stir fried was “just a little bit of meat”. Same for the use of honey vs sugar or oil used for stir fries. My Japanese friends did the same with Korean food. My guess is, that many people single out certain aspects of food that they are not used too: food that is familiar is recognized as a whole, whereas unfamiliar food is analyzed. BTW..this has happened to me when I came to the US and is happening to me again after moving back to my home country. In my opinion, there is such a variety of food to choose from in the US (especially in CA) that I really disagree with everyone generalizing american food = soda + hamburger + fries!!!

    4 years ago
  2. 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. = /

    5 years ago
  3. 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

    5 years ago
  4. Bel

    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 …

    5 years ago
  5. 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?’

    6 years ago
  6. 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 years ago
  7. 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

    6 years ago
  8. Even though I like all your videos, for me TL:DR is by far my favorite.

    You guys rock!

    8 years ago