So, I’m Nigerian-American– that’s Nigerian-American just in case you can’t see all of the letters.
What could my culture possibly have in common with Korean culture?
Well, a lot– like an emphasis on education and family as the most important things in life; and, that’s why I was initially drawn to Korean culture. Its definitely NOT because of Kpop, but it definitely is ALSO because of my Korean best friend (and first love) from college, Korean dramas, Korean movies, and Korean music.
Anyway, Nigerians eat spicy stews and sweet bread, too, with lots of bitter vegetables and yummy(?) meats. Of course, I won’t go much further than that in comparing Nigerian food to Korean food, but I’ll be sure to write about Korean food soon!^^
Well, what else?
We respect our elders, too, from giving big greetings to doing small chores to obeying general commands, like the following:
“Bring me my shoes, Jenny.” — My Aunt.
Do what you’re told.
“Wash the dishes, Jenny. Now!” — My Mom.
Do what you’re told when you’re told.
“Jenny… Jenny… JENNY!!!” — My Dad.
And, come when you’re called,
even if you’re upstairs in your room trying to watch your shows.
*Comes out of shock*
Of course, when I say, “elders,” I don’t just mean “old people.” For example, out of respect, when I was a kid and even now I always greet people who are older than me first.
And, little children are kept separate from older ones out of respect for age differences and the
wisdom wrinkles that come along with being older. For example, my older cousin ordered my younger cousin to sit on the floor so she could sit on the couch.
We even separate the house (living room, TV Room, upstairs) based on age: The adults get the living room, we girls get the TV room, and the boys (and kids) get the upstairs.
Like Koreans, Nigerians also have traditional clothing along with traditional ceremonies and even traditional weddings.
So, apart from the language, the singing in front of people in small rooms, and the living and showering in even smaller rooms, I was never really shocked by Korean culture.
Well, until I started watching Korean variety shows…
I’m writing this post right after watching the latest episode of Mamma Mia. What I’m about to tell you happens all the time, but this time– I just HAD to write about it.
On this episode, moms and their famous daughters were featured. Most of the daughters were also moms, too, so after awhile childbirth came up, and the women talked about how long it took for them to give birth.
That’s normal enough.
However, SUDDENLY, they started talking about the following:
Literally the main female host said, “tightening your anus” to explain “케겔 운동” or Kegel exercises, which one woman did in order to promote better health after birth.
(You should have seen Kyuhyun of Super Junior’s face– he’s a main host on the show, too, when they told him what “케겔 운동 ” meant.)
Then, my favorite comedian and Busan boy Heo Kyunghwan chimed in and asked the woman:
“Oh, are you doing that right now?”
Surely enough, she was. Her face got redder and the veins in her neck became more pronounced as she counted to ten.
Of course, everyone joined in– even the camera men.
To wrap things up, Heo Kyunghwan mentioned that Kegel exercises are also good for male stamina.
Then, the conversation strayed back to that same woman, who said she “enjoyed eating her husband’s love.”
(Uhm, surely she’s not eating what I think she’s eating nor talking about it on national TV?!)
Anyway, they also talked about premarital pregnancy, something one male guest’s wife and one female guest had gone through (and how to break it to the parents) along with taking showers and using the bathroom together with their spouses.
They decided that while taking showers together seems romantic, its not.
Lesson of the day:
“Marriage is reality.”
So, I suddenly realized that everything that I know about sex, dating, and marriage I learned from romance novels, my Korean ex-boyfriend, independent films (mostly Korean but some Italian and French), and Korean Variety Shows, because its just not something that my Nigerian family talked about, AND its not something that I ever wanted to learn from American politics or American society…
or American Porn.
BUT, whenever I hear Koreans talk SO openly about birth, stamina, and sex– on TV of all places, I’m always shocked by how open their culture is with each other about those issues. Keep in mind, though, this is sex in terms of FAMILY, not anything like what Hyuna and what’s his name are doing– those two “Troublemakers.”
So, what’s YOUR biggest Korean culture shock?