Published On: Mon, Jan 9th, 2012

20 awkward moments in Korea

Awkward moments in a foreign country are unavoidable. They happen often and some are fun experiences and others are so awkward that you wish to efface them from your memory. Here are mine.

  1. Watching an old lady pee down the stairs
  2. Student saying “I love you” and meaning it
  3. Watching another Teacher get called out by your boss in front of you and other Teachers
  4. Spoken Korean to even though they know you don’t understand
  5. Saying no to a otherwise ridiculous request that’s appropriate in Korea and been expected to say yes
  6. Kissing in public and Koreans freaking out
  7. Asking for sugar and getting salt
  8. Dr. telling me I am fat at the hospital
  9. Being asked for a wooden clothes peg back that we took from a restaurant
  10. Forced to drink Korean rice soup that’s gross to be polite
  11. A kid trying to wipe the black off my skin
  12. Co-Teacher asking me when I plan on marrying my girlfriend in front of her
  13. Co-Teacher calling a student stupid and the student looking at me with puppy eyes
  14. In a dark area Co-Teacher asking where is Tate? and laughing
  15. Asking a student what he does as a hobby and him saying out loud “watching porn and my Co-Teacher giving me the go-ahead to write it on the board
  16. Seeing another Teacher not washing his hands after using the toilet and then trying to peel a tangerine to share with me later and refusing it
  17. Feeling my hair being touched and turning around and an old lady touching me
  18. Student peeing in his pants in class
  19. Another foreign Teacher telling you the boss told them they stink and need to wash before coming to work
  20. Two Koreans verbally fighting because of you

These are my awkward moments in Korea and I am sure more will happen as I spend another year here. But I am interested in hearing about yours. What are yours? Have you had any or is it just me?

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Displaying 12 Comments
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  1. William Brammer says:

    That where is the Tate joke is kind of funny.

  2. jenna1129 says:

    Oh here is one that recently happened that I think I told you about Tate. I was helping a kindergartener with their worksheet and another kindergarten girl came up behind me and licked my leg and when I turned around in shock to see what happened she said, “Meow”. haha Oh and she had just enhaled a grape sucker so my leggings smelt like grape sucker the rest of the day. Worst smell ever.

  3. Leonie says:

    Another awkward moment is to deny to drink soju with koreans. Some are very eager to pore your glass and make you swallow it. Sometimes it comes that far that I have to hide my glass under the table to avoid the harsh demands.

  4. Keith Bourque says:

    Leonie, just leave a bit of soju in the bottom of your glass. If you drink the whole thing here it means that you’re a big drinker and want more. About a quarter of a typical soju glass in the bottom is right.

    For awkward moments I’d have to say the “man hair” question wins a small prize. I have a beard and students are always curious about it. Back before I shaved my head the students could also notice that while my hair is brown with some blonde in it my beard is red and blonde. This led to questions about whether I dyed one or other. This answer that I didn’t prompted some quiet discussion among the students culminating in this gem: “Teacher…if the hair on your head is one colour, and your beard another, what colour is your…ummm…uhhhh…..oh! Man hair?” He then gesticulated at his groin while the other students paid close attention to what I was about to say. I just told him it was purple and then carried on with the lesson.

  5. JD says:

    Wow, those are some pretty awkward moments!

    Some moments I’ve had were:
    -a student smelling me and then telling the other students I smell good resulting in the sudden swarm of students all coming up to sniff me.
    - a student asking for my phone number
    - being asked if my ancestors were all “Black” when my skin color is a light tan color.
    (this one I felt the most awkward with)- being asked if I have a boyfriend and responding no, and then having a couple Korean teachers telling another Korean teacher that she should hook up her HIGH SCHOOL son with me. (That one put me in a very awkward position.)

    • Tate says:

      Lol, these are great. I love the “sniffing you” one. You don’t know how many times I get that one with a subsequent comment, “Teacher, Ghana pie?” or “chocolate” and then an attempt to lick my hand. I can’t help but to laugh!

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