Make sure you…
Think living in Korea is easy?
I thought so…
I even knew how to speak some Korean
I was very familiar with the culture..
Heck, I even have some family in Korea!
Living in Korea would be a piece of cake, right?
All I said was “Nice weather” and…
I got the death stare from hell in return.
The very first day I moved to Korea, I was jet lagged and left my room at 7AM to get a cappuccino.
The cafe was just opening and the staff were preparing for the day, cleaning tables, mopping floors and washing windows.
I received my order and stepped outside to enjoy the sunlight when I saw a worker outside washing the windows.
Then I made a mistake that still haunts me to this day.
I casually said in Korean…
“Nice weather, huh?”
That’s it! A simple and innocent comment about the weather.
I grew up in America, where it’s common to have a brief conversation about the weather, sports,
the news. Strangers talk to each other all the time because why not??
She was caught off guard by my comment.
She looked around to see if I was talking to someone else.
She saw no one and realized I was talking to her.
She looked at me with alarm and fear…
took a few steps to the side…
and continued to wash the windows, kept me in the corner of her eye, and didn’t say a single word.
She didn’t have to say anything at all… her death stare from hell said it all:
I never knew such an innocent comment could draw such a negative reaction.
It wasn’t a language thing… I spoke in Korean.
I’m sure I didn’t look like a rapist.
(Although I was probably a bit messy because of my jet lag).
Only later did I realize…
I stepped on a cultural landmine!
That’s the moment I learned having random conversation with strangers is uncommon in Korea
(especially for those who look Korean, like me and even more true for younger men and women).
I learned that lesson the hard way that day.
And it’s stuck with me till this day.
Very useful book with a lot of information
about Korean culture
that u can’t find in other textbooks.
But it’s not just cultural lessons you’ll have to learn.
There are plenty of must-learn language lessons, too!
Or… you can learn the the hard way!
When I first got to Korea, I decided to take Korean language courses.
I studied intensively.
5 hours every day.
I was making exponential progress!
But even with all that study, practice and immersion in Korean…
I would still get tripped up on the simplest words.
After a few months of living in Korea. It was clear…
There are tons of words and phrases that
you can never get from a Korean language course.
Take one of the first times I had gone to the convenience store in Korea as an example.
I went to buy drinks and snacks.
It was a bit too much to carry at home, and
I was standing in front of the clerk asking for a bag.
A simple plastic bag. That’s it.
I had asked for a 가방 (gabang)
which I had thought mean “bag.”
The clerk looked at me confused and said they didn’t sell bags.
Then I was confused…
We were at an impasse with both sides scratching out heads.
I decided it was time for some body language…
and I drew a plastic bag in the air.
This confused the clerk even more.
(Now that I think about it… he had every reason to be confused.
A plastic bag drawn in the air simply seems like a rectangle.)
Well… I was digging myself into this hole deeper and deeper.
And I was getting nowhere.
My cheeks were already red at that point
and I decided to duck out of this awkward situation.
I ran out of there embarrassed!
(The next day my coworker explained that gabang (가방) meant book bag, or hand bang. And what I should have asked for was a 봉투 (bongtu), which is the word used for plastic bag.)
I’m a foreign service officer who has just re-located to Korea on
an emergency assignment so I haven’t had the benefit of a year’s
worth of intensive language training. However, ‘Survival Korean’
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knowledge which I needed immediately after arriving.
From using taxis, to ordering meals, ‘Survival Korean’ has
provided the specific phrases which are essential to getting
around. The book is thorough, covering all aspects of life from
shopping to dating and much, much more. I highly recommend it.
Korean Survival Phrases is a 219-page book
designed for travelers, residents
and those who want to understand Korean culture
Part travel phrase book and part cultural guide,
you’ll get decades of experiences to
save you the embarrassment and to
prepare you for all the cultural pitfalls.
We’ve gone through all the first-hand embarrassment
so you don’t have to go through the hard lessons.
With Survival Phrases…
you’ll know exactly what to say in the
situations you most need them.
You’ll also discover tips on how to navigate
Korean culture without offending anyone.
You’ll be guided step-by-step on how to avoid the cultural pitfalls, so you
This 219 page ebook is divided into easy to navigate sections, so you can read it
through for all the tips, or you can skip to specific situations whenever you find yourself
in a jam.
I wish we’d had this book when we went to Korea a few years ago.
It’s totally worth it for the travel and directions section, which not
only tells you how to ask for directions, it also tells you how to
understand the response! It’s also got lots of useful and
interesting cultural tidbits in it…making this book well worth
getting for casual travellers and more serious learners!
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