*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*
The WGEB community just got a little bigger, and I’d like to introduce you all to my first guest blogger!^^
Daniel Cooper is 21 years old, and as an African-American student at a historically black university– Lincoln University, he took on the challenge of introducing his black peers to Asia.
Along the way, he founded The Chinese Club at Lincoln and managed to study abroad in China twice. In the end, he accomplished a lot:
“Yes, I turned what was thought to be a small time, soon-to-disappear language on a black campus into a thriving program that I hope can be taken seriously, and it will be.”
But, while in China Daniel felt the strong push and pull of the Korean Wave, and he’s here to share his funny and heartfelt stories about his first experiences with Korean culture from the good to the bad to the ugly.
Western Boy, Eastern World
Hello everyone! My name is Daniel (丹尼尔) Cooper, and you can visit me at my blog, Voyage To Asia.
Korean Culture– the Korean wave, is so powerful. Even in China I was dominated by it, and even when you think you know Korean culture the wave from that massive ocean proves deep indeed. So, here are just a few flashes of my good, bad, and ugly experiences with the Korean wave after a few months in China!
(I’ll be talking about my experiences with my Korean friends Kyunghan, Kim, Genie, and Lin, and they also starred in my blog post on My Korean Influences.)
Kyunghan and I~
Always the leader, and he also had a knack for leading people to new experiences. According to him, “Offering octopus is a sign of friendship in Korean culture.” Well, I did not know that! The subsequent action was to shove an octopus from a street vendor down my throat, because we’re good friends, right?
Kim Minjung aka Kim noona
Kim noona and I~
Nice and caring but not nearly as innocent as you might think since I thought Kim noona could easily find a job as a spy. She’s good at gathering intelligence. Between me, Lin, and Kyunghan, there were no secrets from her. She was also a hookup person, and toiled to introduce me to every Korean girl she knew. She even pushed me to go on some of those group dates that are so popular in Korean culture, but I’ll talk about that later!
Hanging out with Lin was the most comfortable since he was a lover of the night life… and also got the girls!
He’s not nearly as traditional as Kyunghan or Kim noona but still interesting in that respect. Lin actually loves black people more than I do, and since he liked a black girl in my program group, he wanted to learn some Ebonics from me– real thug. But, Lin was also real hospitable, and I realized this after meeting his family in which I was adopted after just two days. His mom told me to call her “mom,” and his sister was another noona…!
(I can never meet someone young enough that I’m oppa.)
Genie was a friend of a friend, and since that’s a perfect way to meet people in Korean culture, Genie and I actually dated for awhile. And man, she knew all the spots! One thing I learned from Korean girls: Better have that fashion.
She had money and intended to spend it. We went dating in Korean town in Shanghai where we hit up some Korean BBQ, went to a bar, went to get some snacks, then went to another restaurant (she can eat), and we finally ended with that KDrama style walk and talk in a nicely lit road with no people near the park.
Now, between the three of them I ended up getting hurt, sick, traditional, and downright embarrassed!
Let’s start with the hurt– not hurt as in dumped by Genie, or hurt as in getting beat by Kyunghan or Lin (they are both built), but hurt as in my pride. Nothing serious of course, but I must say that I’m a pretty good badminton player– just not at their levels yet!
I’ve been to China twice before meeting them, and it was not a big issue. I have good food tolerance, but… — and that’s a long but, they got me sick somehow.
I’m a chicken, beef, pork, and shrimp kind of guy, and I’ve never had octopus or any of those indescribable, unknown foods that they had me eat. Kyunghan Hyung always picked up the tab, or Kim noona (but hyung’s money), and they never let me pay. I like this part of the culture, but eating free means that you eat what’s given to you. And, in my case, it’s squirming octopus and fire buring cold kimchi.
The amount of spice in these dishes was unheard of! I used to think that if you’re turning red, then maybe that’s enough. But to them, that means eat more.
So, I think I got sick AND gained weight, too.
I knew that Koreans usually bowed to each other as a sign of respect, but I never really saw it in practice until I met Kyunghan! He bowed to someone else, another Hyung!
I thought, “Oh… wait, what?” Well, I can do that to, so the next day I saw Lin and bowed, but that didn’t work. Then, I saw Kim noona, and I got a bow back and a cute laugh, but noona is always like that. Then, when I saw Kyunghan hyung I bowed, and I finally got the, “Daniel! Not bad!” And, that’s how I impressed Kyunghan hyung, and even to this day I bow to maybe 70 percent of the new Koreans that I meet.
It makes everything so much easier, but it’s safe to say that Kyunghan hyung is the most traditional!
And, the embarrassment. This is a blog post in and of itself, but I’ll keep it short for now.
Kim noona gave me the most chances to embarrass myself, but in a cute way as they describe: Group dates. One or two in awhile is fine to me, but every other day is kind of… Well, people thought that I was a playboy since I was getting setup so much, and I didn’t even do anything!
More over, when we play those drinking games like 007, or gong-gong-chil, people point their fingers at who they think should drink, so guess who got picked: Usually me or Lin. Well, once I get a little alcohol and some music, I turn up. But, Koreans can turn up, too! So, we start dancing.
Now, I dance freestyle, and that alone makes them parade me around in clubs, but it’s fun, especially seeing them copy me. Oh, and Kyunghan hyung has really got moves! Last thing in the embarrassment section is seeing the girls of this group date, or when I have to fend off some outsiders who try to dance with us in the clubs.
Protective much? Yes, but only because I love them.
It’s me again, westerngirleasternboy, but I hope you enjoyed reading about Daniel’s adventures with his Korean friends and with Korean culture. It’s crazy to think that this all took place in China, but then again it’s not so crazy when I think about my own adventures with my Korean friends and with Korean culture that take place here in Austin, Texas.
Yes, the Korean wave has probably hit us all no matter where we are!
Daniel, you have to come back!
So, stay tuned for more guest blogging from Daniel along with a blog post by yours truly about some of my favorite Korean drinking games!
P.S.: Want more of Daniel? Be sure to check out his blog and my favorite blog post, Black in Asia…?.