Hi everyone!

Guess what? I’m in South Korea!

So it’s been almost a year since I last posted. I’m sorry. A lot has happened, yet not a lot at the same time. A lot happened very quickly, so I’m going to give you a bit of a general summary of what has happened after my interview with Korvia.

The interview itself was just so the recruiters could get a feel for who I am and what kind of job I was looking for. Whether it be at a public school, or a private school, what age range I’m interested in teaching, etc. They helped me apply to EPIK a second time, and they tried to help me find a private school position when I was rejected by EPIK for a second time.

In the meantime, I worked on getting all my paperwork together and had everything I needed by the end of September, I think it was. Dates are a little fuzzy now, so I’ll use generalizations of when things were done and everything.

So, Korvia helped me, however, I guess it was around August, maybe September, when they sent me an email telling me they couldn’t help me find a job. They didn’t tell me why, but I figured it was because I wasn’t already in Korea, and I didn’t already have any teaching experience. So I found a new recruiter.

I will be honest and say I was feeling anxious about not getting any results with Korvia, so I had already started to look for a new recruiter. And then I got the email from them saying they couldn’t help me, so my anxiety wasn’t unfounded. The second recruiter I worked with was called Teach English in Korea, and they were great. I applied and they got back to me almost immediately. I had an interview with one of their recruiting agents on a Friday night, and by Monday she was putting my name and resume out there for schools to review.

By the following week, I had an interview with a school, (a couple, actually, I only did the one though) and a job offer, and then a job! Like I said, it all happened very fast. From then, it was a scramble to get the money I needed to save up and all the things I needed to take with me. There was quite a bit I needed to get. I had been getting things like clothes and shoes whenever I could afford, but it really was a struggle trying to get the money I needed to pay for everything. And then it was tax season! It was only because of my tax return that I was able to have money to bring with me, as well as enough to pay for luggage when I came over here, and enough to pay for bills back home until I get my first paycheck and figure out how to transfer money home.

So, I’m in Korea now! When did I arrive? Where do I work? How’s it been? What have I been doing? Seen anything cool, fun, interesting since I got here?

Let’s see, I’ve been here almost six weeks, and I’ve been either observing in other teachers’ classrooms, or I’ve been teaching myself since basically day one. It’s been a whirl-wind and I feel like I’ve been going non-stop since I got here. I know a lot of people end up with culture shock, but I haven’t really had any that I’ve noticed. That could change, I don’t know. And I don’t know exactly why I haven’t had any culture shock, or even if I’ll have any at any point, but I’m wondering if it’s maybe because everyone at my school speaks English, and a lot of people around the city I live in speak at least a bit of English as well. I also understand a bit of Korean, can read it a bit too, and I’ve moved so many times in my life, I’ve learned to adapt fairly well to new places. So, maybe that’s why? I don’t know. We’ll see if I get culture shock at any point in the future. I probably will now that I’ve said that.

So what kind of school do I work in? I work in a hagwon. It’s a private English school that has preschool/kindergarten in the morning, and then starting at three pm, we have school age kids in for academic lessons in English. Like, we don’t just teach English language and grammar and such, we teach math, science, writing, reading, all in English. I teach a preschool class in the morning, and then, depending on the day of the week, I teach either two or three of the older classes. I’m usually home by seven pm at the latest, and it’s usually only that late if I need to stay a bit to prepare for the next day’s classes.

The school itself is great, and the other teachers are great, as well. There are seven other native English speaking teachers at the school, but all the Korean teachers speak and teach in English as well. I think the only person, or people, at the school who isn’t, or aren’t, fluent in English is the owner of the school branch, and the ladies who clean the school and who fix the food for lunch and snacks.

But anyway. I think I’ve said enough for today. I will make another post soon about where I’m living and what it’s like, I’ll post some pictures from around the city where I’m living, too. I’ve been contemplating making videos too, but I’m a little nervous about being on camera, and I’ve never made and edited a video before, so we will see how things go in the future.

Until next time,




Hi everyone!

So, I’m writing this because I needed something constructive to do while I wait for my interview time with Korvia. So nerve-wracking! Like, I’m pretty sure I’m shaking, and I just… so nervous. I’ve never been this nervous about a job interview before. And it’s not even an actual job interview, it’s just an interview so they can get to know me to know which jobs I might be good for. But anyway.

I have made more Korean food! Well, sort of. I made kimbap again, and actually took pictures. I also made mandu, which is Korean dumplings. And I took pictures of that as well. So let’s see if I can figure out how to add pictures to a post so you can see the yummy foods I made with my sister.

First off: kimbap!

This time around I used chicken, finely sliced cucumber, and finely sliced carrots, along with the YumYum sauce from the last time. It was pretty amazing. Have some pictures, and another video recipe for how to make kimbap.

Video first:

And some pictures:

This is how I cool the rice; in a baking pan with a damp paper towel over the top.

20150408_191410 20150408_191403 20150408_190035

Here’s everything spread neatly before it’s rolled up, then everything is rolled and cut.

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Next is the mandu!

I altered the recipe I was using because it calls for kimchi, but I haven’t quite aquired a taste for it yet, and besides, I can’t really eat most kimchi because it typically has brined shrimp in it, which I’m allergic too. Also, my brother-in-law doesn’t like kimchi either and he was eating the meal as well.

Here’s the recipe and a video on how to make it.

I used ground pork in the recipe and it worked great. I also used small dumpling wrappers because that’s what I could find in the store. I also didn’t add a few of the ingredients because I couldn’t find them in the store. I also used soft tofu instead of the medium firm like the recipe calls for, but I think I liked the texture of the soft better. I used the full package of it as well, because 1) the rest wouldn’t have been used, and 2) because I had eliminated some of the other bulkier ingredients, like the kimchi. But yeah. They were really good, and I’ve been told they can be made again in the future. Have some pictures!

Ingredients: 20150322_181941

Everything cooked up and mixed together, waiting to be stuffed into wrappers.20150322_190151

Stuffed wrappers: 20150322_191835

I pan fried them because I didn’t have a way to steam them. They were really good.20150322_192105 20150322_193059

There’s a recipe for a dipping sauce on the page too, definitely make it, it goes really well with the dumplings. Anyway, finished product is below.


Yay! Um… this post probably sucks, but oh well. Enjoy the food pictures. I’m going to go finish freaking out before my interview. Cheers!

Now What?

Hey Everyone,

I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything, and you’re all probably wondering what’s going on with EPIK and fingerprints and all that good stuff. Well, um… I’m not even sure where to start. I guess with EPIK. I finally got an email back from them. I woke up Monday morning and found an email from them. It wasn’t good news, unfortunately. I didn’t pass to the interview stage. Which sucks, but I’m not giving up. They weren’t allowed to tell me why I didn’t pass, so I don’t know why, but I can make some assumptions. So, yeah, no EPIK interview, which means I may or may not be leaving for Korea in August. But more on that in a minute.

Okay, so the last update I posted I said I’d sent my fingerprints out, right? Well, they were rejected for having low quality characteristics. So, I got two more sets taken and sent those in. Those were rejected as well. So I gave up until I heard back from EPIK so I didn’t wast any more money. It was a good choice, obviously, because I didn’t get an interview, but there’s probably a chance I’ll have to start again, anyway. Which means either spending more money, or calling the company I was using as a channeller and asking if they can just use my name to run the check because my prints aren’t going to get any better. But I don’t know yet. I have to see if something happens first.

But on to the good news I’ve kind of hinted at. Well, I hope it’s good news. Do you guys remember me talking about Korvia? The recruiter I was going to use before I found out EPIK wasn’t working with recruiters for Fall 2015? (And EPIK actually started working with Korvia at the beginning of March.) Well, I applied to them, finally, thinking that maybe I can get a job with GEPIK or at a private school, or something. At first I wasn’t sure the application had been received because ten minutes after I submitted it, I found an email in my junk folder telling me it couldn’t be delivered because the servers were full. So I thought I would have to submit it again, but I was patient and waited. I did post a comment on one of the Facebook pages asking what to do, but I never got a response (and have since deleted it.) But anyway. This morning I woke up to an email (two actually) from one of the agents from Korvia thanking me for my application and saying she wanted to hold a Skype interview to get to know me better so she could see if there were any positions I might fit. I’m excited, and a little nervous, and a bit worried as well. Why? Well, the interview is Monday at midnight. Or would it be Tuesday at midnight? It’s the midnight between Monday and Tuesday. And I had to fill out a form regarding my health, status of my documents, etc.

So yeah. That’s what’s going on. Exciting and kind of depressing all at once. And all the while I’m continuing to work and still not being able to save much money. I’ll probably have to take out a personal loan at some point so I can pay for everything I need. I need to go to the bank, or on their website, or something to see if I’m even eligible for a loan. Add that to the things I need to do!

Anyway. Expect a food post from me sometime soon, too.


Paperwork update?

Hello again!

I have sent my fingerprints off for my Criminal Record Check! Crazy! I’m hoping I’ll get it back by the end of the month. I’ve joined a group on Facebook for the EPIK Fall 2015 intake session and it seems a lot of the people on there already have theirs finished. The only reason I only just sent mine out is because I didn’t have the money to do it. But now I do so I did it!

I also ordered three transcripts from my undergraduate degree. They should be here by like tomorrow or Monday hopefully. I also got my diploma copied and notarized. So now all I have to do is send it out and have it apostilled. Next paycheck. I swear. I did a thing with this paycheck and spent a large amount on Talk to Me in Korean books. I don’t regret it.

Now all I have to get are the passport-sized photos, get the apostilles, make a bunch of copies, and hear back from EPIK about the interview. Progress!

Yeah, I’ve kind of lost what I was going to say. Until the next time!


Hey everyone!

I realize I’ve been neglecting this blog lately, so I’m going to try to post two blogs today. And here’s the first. So what’s it about? You can probably tell by the title, but I guess I can tell you anyway. Today’s blog is about Korean food! Specifically the food I have made. So… kimbap and japchae. I’ll be posting links to the recipe I used for japchae, and the traditional kimbap recipe a bit later in the post, so hang in there as I ramble a little bit.

Let’s get started!

So like a week and a half to two weeks ago (geez, have I really been here that long already?) I made japchae for my sister and me to eat. It turned out really good, but I think I would cook the noodles a little bit longer next time because they were a bit chewier than I think they were supposed to be. Here’s the link to the recipe so you can know what I’m talking about for the next part.

So, it calls for beef or pork, but I used chicken because 1) that’s what I had, and 2) that’s what’s easiest for my body to digest. But anyway. I also left out the mushrooms and used a chopping thing to finely chop all the veggies. I think those were the only changes I made. It turned out really good, and it makes a lot. I think the next time I make it, I’ll actually make the effort to slice and chop the veggies instead of taking the lazy way out because with everything finely chopped, all the veggies sank to the bottom and didn’t disperse throughout the noodles. I tried to take pictures during the actual making process, but my camera card was malfunctioning so it didn’t save any of the pictures I thought I had taken, so unfortunately I don’t have any pictures to show you. Maybe next time.

Now, on to the kimbap!

Here’s the traditional recipe, but since I either can’t eat, or can’t get a majority of the ingredients in it, I substitute my own stuffings.

So, here’s a description of how I make my kimbap and what I usually put in it. I typically put chicken, cucumber, and ranch dressing in mine because… I don’t know why. It just tastes really good that way. Anyway. So I start with boiling the chicken, sounds gross, but it cooks it faster and cleaner than other ways. I also start the rice. I used sushi rice, obviously, and I typically make like three cups of the dry rice so I can have a lot of rolls made. I measure the rice, and then rinse it a bit before I fill the water up. And you can used either a pot or a rice cooker to cook the rice, but I’ve found an actual rice cooker cooks it better than the pot. The pot can burn it really easily. This last time around I actually failed to add enough water to the rice, so it was a bit chewy when it was done cooking. My bad. It still tasted good though.

Anyway, on to the fillings. So, while the chicken and the rice is cooking, I slice the cucumbers. I slice them length-wise and not across so it makes little rounds. Slicing across and then making strips makes it fit better in the rolls. This time around all we could get at the grocery store were baby cucumbers, which I made work. And they were delicious, by the way.

When the chicken is finished cooking, I let it cool a bit, then shred it. When the rice is finished cooking, I add a bit of salt for flavoring, and then spread it out in a flat casserole pan to start cooling. I cover it with a damp paper towel so it doesn’t dry out as it cools. When everything has cooled a bit, it’s time for assembly!

Seaweed sheets go shiny-side to the table/counter/rolling mat/whatever. Then you take the rice and spread it out. I tend to use a lot of rice, but I think it’s really good that way. Then you add the filling. Cucumber, chicken, and ranch dressing. Or, like this last time around, we used a sauce called YumYum sauce. It’s the orange-colored sauce you get in Japanese steak and seafood places to dunk your shrimp and steak in. It’s really good. So yeah, a few rolls got ranch, a few rolls got YumYum sauce, and the last roll had some left-over stir-fry because I ran out of chicken and cucumber before I ran out of rice. But yeah. I don’t have pictures for this either because I completely forgot to take them. Next time!

I prefer to eat kimbap fresh, but it’s good cold too. It’ll last a few hours out on the counter or in a lunchbox or something, and it’ll last in the fridge for a day or two. Feel free to be creative with the fillings. Kimbap is sometimes referred to as the “Korean sandwich” because you can honestly put whatever you want in it. Which makes it so different from Japanese sushi. But yeah. Um… I think I’m done with this one. Enjoy!

And definitely check out Maangchi’s site and youtube channel. That’s where I get all my recipes for cooking Korean food. I’ve been planning to make mandu, but haven’t had a chance to get to the international market to get the wrappers. But soon! and I’ll attempt to actually take pictures this time.

Until next time!

Application Received!

Hi everyone!

I submitted my EPIK application! The timeline has officially begun! I got an email yesterday saying thank you for my application and I had submitted it a bit early. They’re still finishing up with the current Spring intake and wouldn’t be getting around to reviewing submitted applications until the middle of March. So I have at least a week before I hear anything back about the possibility of getting to the interview stage. In the meantime, I get to start getting my paperwork together. That’s one good thing about having applied early; my paperwork gets seen earlier than people who have applied, or will apply, after me. Which means I have to start figuring out which thing needs to get done first. Well, I know which thing needs to be done first, but it’s a matter of finding the time to do it, and then having the money. I’m working and getting paid pretty well, so I can hope I’ll have enough money the next time I get paid. Then I just need to get my fingerprints done so I can send in the paperwork to get my Criminal Record Check done. I have to look and see when the place is open so I know when I need to go in to get my prints rolled. I hope they’re open on the weekend so I can go in on Saturday and get things going next week. But we’ll see. But yeah. That’s all I have to say right now. I’ll update more when I know more, or have done more.

Oh! Um… so I made both kimbap and japchae, but I forgot to take pictures for the kimbap, and my camera wasn’t working for the japchae… so no pictures. But I will make a post with recipes for each. Eventually. Maybe this weekend. We’ll have to see what happens though.

Anyway. Cheers!

Get Ready!

Hey everyone!

I got my second recommendation letter in the mail today (or yesterday, not sure which). Pretty exciting. Now I have no excuse for putting off finishing my EPIK application. So what am I doing? Watching movies on Netflix, writing this post, and… not finishing the application. All I have left is the personal essay, which I’m struggling with, and the sample lesson plan, which I have the idea for, I’m just not motivated to actually take the time to write it out. Which is really bad. It’s Monday though, the last Monday in February, and I am determined to get this application finished and submitted by the end of the week. Which shouldn’t be that hard because I’m still waiting to hear back about a background check for a new job here in the States so I can start working again.Which means I have nothing to do all week EXCEPT work on the application. And researching where I need to go to get some things done for some of the paperwork.

I’m hoping with this new job I’ll be able to pay bills, pay my sister back a little bit each paycheck, and still be able to save quite a bit of money each month. That way I’ll be on my way to having the $2000 I have as my goal for saving. I’d really like to be able to save more, but we’ll see. I still have all the expenses for getting paperwork too, so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens after I start working and start getting paid again.

I intended to write a post about Korean language learning tools I’ve been using (or started using but kind of lapsed in using?), or have found useful but found better ones, etc. But I guess that will have to be the next post I do. If I remember. I don’t often actually forget to write a post, it’s just I remember when I’m away from my computer and have forgotten again by the time I get anywhere near the computer. So I’ll have to start setting reminders or something so I actually write once a week about something, even if it’s just an update on my paperwork status, or an update on my progress, or something about the process. Once I’m actually in Korea, you guys know I will definitely be doing more posts about food and culture and language and maybe even about music, right? And, if I get up the courage, I might do some videos, too. About life in Korea, of course, and all the things listed above. But I think mostly about life in Korea.

Oh! I’m cooking japchae tomorrow for my sister and me to enjoy, so maybe I’ll take pictures and post a recipe (with a link to the original one, of course) and tell you how it turned out. I’ll also be making some gimbap this week too (probably tomorrow since I’m home alone all day), so I’ll take pictures of that as well and give you the traditional recipe, plus what I put in it or have tried in it since I can’t eat some of the ingredients in the traditional recipe. Look forward to it!

Until the next one!


Hi everyone!

I have to admit I am a little overwhelmed right now. I’ve just moved again, which was the best decision for me to make, but it also puts me in a bit of a bind when it comes to getting things ready for EPIK. I’m in a completely different state, and my address is obviously different, so that means I have to get my fingerprints redone with my current address on them. I’m hoping I can get that done here in the next week or two, since I already know where and when I can go to get it done, and how much it’ll cost even. It’s just a matter of getting over there when I need to. Then, when I have my fingerprints again, I can finally send off the paperwork, money, and fingerprints to get my criminal record check done. During the waiting process to get the CRC back, I have to have my diploma copied and notarized so, when the CRC comes back, I can send both the CRC and the notarized diploma copy out to be apostilled. I also need to order transcripts, get passport sized photos, and try to stay calm. However, even before all that, I need to complete my EPIK application and submit it. I’m still waiting on my second recommendation letter, but I have a feeling I won’t get it for at least another week, so I think I’m going to have to submit the one I have with my application and explain why I don’t have the second one yet. And for my EPIK application, I still have to finish my personal essay and my sample lesson plan. I want to cry. I’m so overwhelmed. And I’m trying to find a job again, so that adds to the anxiety. And I’m in a town/city I’m not familiar with so I have no idea where things are or how to get there, and we only have one car for three of us, and….hnnng. This was a good decision. I am already happier here… I just feel lost is all. It’ll get better. I just have to get used to a new place again is all. I guess it gets me ready for moving a whole world away from what is familiar. But yeah. I get to just remind myself to keep breathing, to keep moving forward one step at a time, and to stay positive as I work through all the stuff I have to get done. Check one thing off the list at a time; that’s what I need to do. Don’t try to do everything at once, just do one thing and get it done, then move on to the next. -Deep breath- I’m off to read or something. And making a list of what I need to get done…

Stay strong my future EPIK teachers, we can do this.


Korean Etiquette

Here, have a paper I wrote like forever ago on Korean etiquette and such. Enjoy! It’s kinda long, but I had fun with the research and the paper is really informative.

South Korean Etiquette, Formalities, and Everyday Courtesies

“Respect your elders,” is one thing children nearly everywhere are taught to do. In South Korea there is no exception. In fact, respect is paramount in Korean society. There are many different ways of showing respect in Korean culture, including the way one uses language and how one conducts oneself in different social or business situations. In the following pages, some of the ways of showing respect in South Korea will be discussed. Things not to do if ever in Korea or around a Korean person will also be mentioned.

Korean culture is deeply rooted in Confucianism. Not exactly a religion, but more a philosophical set of guidelines for how to live one’s life, the doctrine emphasizes hierarchy and self-control through the terms of the “Five Relationships” set up by Confucius (Vreeland, 1982, pg. 65). These five relationships are those between ruler and subject, husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friend and friend. Through these relationships, “Confucianism stresses duty, loyalty, honor, filial piety, respect for age and seniority, and sincerity” ( Filial piety is considered the basic component for the forming and shaping of personality, but it also concerns not only one’s parents, but one’s conduct toward others and one’s conduct in society (KOIS, 1993, pg. 146). Filial piety also creates a certain hierarchy in the home. Grandparents, or parents, depending on how many generations a household has, are the superiors of the house and thus demand absolute obedience and respect from the younger members of the household (Hakwon-sa LTD, 1960, pg. 622). The social order of things in a home is maintained through respect to superiors (KOIS, 1960, pg. 146). This respect is shown in many different ways which will be discussed in following paragraphs.

The first way of showing respect to elders, is through the use of respectful language. According to Vreeland (1982) in the book South Korea: a country study, “the Korean language still reflects a meticulous attention to details of status and authority embedded not merely in vocabulary but in its very grammatical structure” (pg. 66). Just like in the Japanese language, there is what could be called “polite” or “honorific” uses of the language. In Korean there are two to four levels of formality in speech, depending on who you ask. Within those levels there can be more than one way of saying a word or phrase as well.  Three levels will be mentioned here. The three levels of respectful speech most people agree on are those used when addressing superiors which is formal, those used when addressing peers which is less formal, but still formal enough to be polite, and those used when addressing those of lower status or age which is completely informal. According to the Korean international student who was interviewed for this paper, she uses the informal level of speech the most; unless of course she is speaking to an elder or a teacher (Hwang, 2012).

However, regardless of which level of politeness is being used, knowing which one to use is an extremely complex and subtle matter that everyone tends to be sensitive about (Vreeland, 1982, pg. 103). This respect is shown to all in Korean society, no matter if people know each other or not. If there is a gathering of people who have not met each other before, they will use conversational tactics and cues to try to gauge the age of their conversation partner. Questions such as ones like “When did you graduate from university?” are used to determine age so one can adjust speech patterns accordingly ( Choosing which level of formal speech to use with certain people is second nature to Korean speakers. But for someone just learning Korean, one has to be careful because using too high of a level or too low of a level of formality can either make things awkward between those speaking or one could even insult the other unintentionally (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 26).

Embedded in these levels of formality are endings on words that make what is being said formal. Verbs and adjectives in the Korean language receive different endings depending on the level of formality. This can be seen in the variations of “Hello”: annyeonghaseyo and annyeonghashimnika. Annyeonghaseyo is formal enough to be used with anyone and is the standard greeting for most meetings. Annyeonghashimnika is more formal than annyeonghaseyo and is used when speaking to a boss or to someone who is much older than oneself ( There is a third way to say hello which is much less formal than either of the previous greetings mentioned. Annyeong, which does not have an ending attached to it, is used with peers or younger people and is much less formal (Hwang, 2012).

The standard ending for a sentence that falls under the category of informal polite speech is one that ends in –yo. Informal polite speech can be considered the default level to use with pretty much everyone. It is polite enough not to be insulting, yet informal enough to not sound like one is trying to give too much respect to the wrong person. The ending –yo is added on the end of the verb, or in some cases the adjective, which comes at the end of the sentence in Korean. Using the –yo form of the verb shows you respect who you are speaking to. For example, if you are telling someone you respect that you are meeting a friend you would say, “jeoneun chingureul mannayo” which translates to “I am meeting a friend” (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 32).

Besides the endings of the sentences, there are other spoken ways of showing respect. There are certain things people are called in Korean society and it can be perceived as rude if one does not use these ways of address. In class, we learned that in Korean society there are different things to call older brothers and sisters, but it does not stop there. There are different things to call older brothers and older sisters depending on what gender one is. For example, a male would call an older brother hyeong and an older sister nuna. A female, on the other hand, would call an older brother oppa and an older sister eonni. Not only can these names be used for just biological siblings, but they tend to be used for any older male and female as a sign of respect. It is the same with elders and calling them harabeoji, or grandfather, and halmeoni, or grandmother, regardless of blood relation (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 88).

There are other forms of address as well. For example, using the suffix –ssi on the end of someone’s full name or first name which shows respect to a person of the roughly the same speech or social level. However, attaching –ssi to just the surname is considered rude because it can be seen as the person viewing themselves at a higher social status than the person they are referring to. It is also impolite to use –ssi after one’s own name because that makes one appear to have a large ego. There is also the addressing of just using words such as sunbae, senior, and hubae, junior. It is very similar to calling someone Senpai, senior, in Japanese (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 53). Adding –nim to a name or position of someone you know shows more respect. For example, if you want to show respect to someone else’s parents you would call them by eomeonim and abeonim instead of eomeoni or abeoji, which is what you would call your own parents to show them respect (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 58). Although most people just call their parents appa or papa, and eomma or mama, unless they really want to show them respect.

Another way of showing respect, besides using formal language, one can use certain types of body language, especially when greeting others. Koreans regard a greeting as a very important part of showing respect. It is also important that the junior greets the senior first. That is where annyeonghaseyo and the like come into play. But there are certain gestures, and body language that is added to what is said to make a proper, respectful greeting. Bowing is the most important gesture of respect. It is often used when apologizing and expressing gratitude, as well as when greeting one another. However, one has to be careful how the bow is done; otherwise it could be seen as a challenge in Tae kwon do. Bending too far or not enough, keeping eye contact, and staring at the other person’s feet are all mistakes first time bowers tend to make. The proper way to bow is to bend at the waist and tilt the head so eye contact is not kept, but the feet are not the focus point (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 51). On New Year’s Day in Korea is it customary for the young in the family to do a traditional floor bow to their parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents to show their respect and to ask for their blessing for the coming year.

Handshakes sometimes accompany a bow in business settings or if it is a first meeting. However, the bow is normally initiated by the youngest of the pair or group meeting, where as the handshake is initiated by the senior of the pair or group (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg 22, 51). Handshakes normally involve two hands, the right hand grasping the other’s in the actually shake, and the left hand sits below the right elbow as though supporting the right arm. Bowing and handshakes can be combined: the way it is done is that the arm is extended and the body is bending slightly at the waist at the same time. Women do not usually initiate handshakes unless in a business setting with men, but they do not use both hands when shaking the hand of the other person like men do (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 22).

Other body language that is commonly used to show respect is the way Koreans beckon to others. Instead of using just a single finger to beckon, they use their whole arm to make a scooping motion in the direction in which they want the person to go. Although some people use an open palm facing to the ground and gesture by opening and closing the hand. For superiors or elders, one will often see someone using both arms to make the beckoning gesture instead of just one arm. It is considered extremely rude and insulting to beckon with just one finger, no matter who it is used for. Using an open palm facing up to beckon is used primarily for calling animals and can be seen as offensive if used for a person (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 21).

Nodding is another sign of respect to elders. If an elder is speaking, one will often see juniors sitting quite still and straight listening intently with a periodic uttering of “Ye”, showing they are paying attention and understanding what is being said. The more still and straight the listener is, the more important the speaker is in the listener’s eyes (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 22). Eye contact, which is often valued in American society, is not necessary in Korean society. Direct, prolonged eye contact, especially with an elder, is often seen as impolite, as is staring at people.  Eye contact in public is especially seen as rude and can even cause hostilities. Pointing with the index finger is considered rude as well in Korean culture, so instead an open hand or the middle finger is often used to point things out (

So far formalities in language and gestures have been discussed, but different types of etiquette have not. Table and dining etiquette is important to know if you want to make the right impression on people. In Korea, one must wait to be told where to sit at the table because often times there is a certain place everyone sits based on seniority or position within the group. One must also always wait to begin eating until the eldest, most senior person has started eating first. Pointing with your chopsticks is extremely impolite. When finished eating, chopsticks and spoon must be returned to their original place on the table and not left resting across the rice bowl or plate ( The younger members should always offer to pour a drink for their elders and must pour the drink using the right hand supported by the left hand under the right wrist. The younger must also wait to drink until the elder has taken the first sip and only then may the younger drink, but only by turning away slightly and supporting the drink with both hands (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 107). One thing to never, ever do when dining in Korea as it is seen as a very grave offense: never leave your chopsticks or spoon sticking out of the rice bowl, as this is seen as an offering to a deceased soul and is only practiced at a memorial service (Hakwon-sa, 1960, pg. 604). Using fingers to eat food is frowned up and should be avoided, even if it is comfortable to do so. Always use chopsticks or the spoon ( One thing that is common in Korea is that people almost never eat alone. They are always eating with family or colleagues (

In Korea, a table setting is quite different compared to what one would find here in America. There is normally a lot on the table. One will find a bowl of rice, a small bowl of soup, chopsticks, and a spoon at each place setting. In the center of the table and surrounding the place settings will be little plates containing various vegetables and meats. These are banchan, or side dishes. There is also the main dish on a large plate in the center of the table. In Korea, most of the time main and side dishes are shared between the occupants of the table, with only the rice and soup given singly to each person (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 95-6). When eating out, it is uncommon for people in a group to pay for just themselves. Paying for everyone’s meal shows generosity and it makes sure that the acquaintanceship continues past that one meeting because the other person will feel indebted and will want to repay you (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 106). It is also customary to be offered a second helping of food more than once. The first time being asked is to be refused, but it should also not be taken seriously by the asker. After the first refusal, a second asking will be given ( The way to indicate one is full is not by leaving food on one’s plate, it is by replacing one’s chopsticks to their original place on the table ( Some people may slurp their food, or chew loudly, but most of the time this is not appropriate to do, especially in business or public settings. Slurping and loud eating is only really accepted around family members and close friends and normally only in a more private setting (Hwang, 2012). Meal times are set for specific times, especially if there are members in a family who attend school or go to work in the morning. Breakfast is at 7am, lunch is typically at noon, dinner is at 7pm and then there is typically a small snack around 10pm. Eating out is common, but it really depends on the family group and the occasion. For instance, the Korean student interviewed said her family goes out to eat on the weekends when her mother does not want to cook and when there are special days, such as birthdays or other small holidays (Hwang, 2012).

Business etiquette should be formal and there are things that are required. Since Koreans do business with people with whom they have personal connections, it is really important to be introduced by a mutual third-party. Koreans are very direct communicators, so they are not afraid to ask questions. However, Koreans do not like confrontation and will often bring up a problem through the person who first made the introduction. If a meeting time is set, it is extremely rude to be late; otherwise Koreans have a loose sense of time. Meeting times are important because it is rude for a person to just show up at the person’s office and expect them to meet with them ( If ever invited to a boss or coworker’s home, it is customary to bring a small gift for the host. Many stores even provide small, already wrapped gifts for first meetings to make things easier for people (

A few general etiquette points that should be mentioned are things like personal space, displays of affection and things that should be avoided or absolutely done if ever in Korea. Koreans prefer a personal space distance of arms length, but only if they are familiar with the person they are interacting with. If it is someone they are just meeting, or do not know well, a larger distance is required. However, with younger people and most women the tendency is to be more comfortable in each others’ personal space if they are close friends. One may often see two people of the same gender walking arm in arm or holding hands. A public display of affection between opposite genders is not a common occurrence, though. As mentioned earlier, people will bow or shake hands on greetings. There may even be a hug given if the people know each other well enough, however, affection passed that is frowned upon and not appropriate for anything outside of the privacy of one’s home (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 287). However, there is such thing as “skinship”, which, in a very touch based country like Korea, is not all that uncommon. Skinship is believed to be a combination of the words “skin” and “friendship”, although the act of skinship does not always just happen between friends. Skinship is just the act of touching another person to try and make them more comfortable or become closer to them. Salespeople will often use this to try and make a sale go easier (Yu-jo’ng).

Taking shoes off before entering a home is a must do unless otherwise told by the owner of the house (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 285). Being humble is accepted more readily than bragging. Koreans actually take it a step further and decline compliments with a phrase such as “animnida, animnida” which translates to “no, no, not at all” when someone compliments them on something (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 283). Making someone lose face in public, or purposefully insulting them is frowned upon. Koreans will humble themselves in front of others; however, it does not give another person the right to bash them by trying to contradict what they have said or done or by putting them down, even mildly (Hong, Lee, 2008, pg. 284).

Gift giving is a common thing in Korea. When invited to a Korean home, it is usually customary to bring small gifts such as flowers, wine, and or chocolates ( If the guest is from another country, it is always nice to bring a small gift from that person’s home country. It is a nice touch if the gift is wrapped in bright colored paper such as red or yellow, as well. It is also customary to accept the gifts with both hands and wait to open them until after the giver has left. It is considered rude if the gift is opened in front of the giver ( A few things to avoid with gift giving, though. One must avoid using green, white, or black wrapping paper, as well as giving gifts in sets of four, as the number four is associated with death in most Asian cultures (

When interviewing Ye Ji Hwang, a South Korean international student here at the University of Evansville, a question was asked about how she had adjusted to the culture here in the United States. She said when she first arrived here, she was unsure of what to do about meal times and the like when people would normally be together. In Korea, the people and culture is so close-knit and together, yet here in the U.S. people tend to be more independent. Yet she said the hardest thing she had to adjust to was the language and trying to communicate because the lack of formality when people speak to their elders. She was unused to it and it was a little unnerving, hearing people talk so informally to professors and parents and people who would deserve a lot of respect in Korea. She even spoke about one of her fellow Korean students who has taken to being informal with her even though he is younger than she is. She told me he calls her hyeong, which is supposed to be for older males, not females, or he just calls her by her name, which in Korea would get him yelled at or even a smack to the back of the head. When speaking with other Koreans, in Korean, she uses informal language, yet when speaking in English, she is still respectful to professors. She said, she is so used to bowing in greeting to those older than her, when she first arrived at the university, she would bow to professors when she entered the classroom. After being here in the U.S. for nearly a year, she has gotten used to how the language and culture works here in this country, yet she still has habits from her life in Korea and she looks forward to returning home at the end of the year (Hwang, 2012).

Throughout my research, I was surprised by some of the things I found out. I was also somewhat ashamed of being a U.S. American. Koreans respect their elders so much more than most people here in the U.S. ever have. We put our parents in nursing homes when we don’t want to have to take care of them in their old age, when people in Korea take their parents into their own home to take care of them, regardless of how much taking care of they actually need. The language formality is something I respect the Koreans for. Here in the U.S. we have two ways of speaking, the way we speak to teachers or bosses, and then the way we speak to everyone else. Neither way is actually very formal and when it is formal, it is forced and not natural sounding.

I am the type of person who watches foreign movies and I listen to foreign music, so I am not unaccustomed to seeing or listening to Korean movies or music. In my opinion, their music and movies are sometimes more appropriate because they have so much formality and a set way of doing things. For instance, they have more conservative ways of dressing, so if you see a music video, the most you will see on a woman is her legs, her arms, and maybe, a very big maybe, her midriff. The music they sing is censored as well, which means most of the music is automatically cleaner than most of the newer stuff people listen to on the radio. This is because there are different people of different age groups, and thus the music has to be appropriate for all age groups. So, in my opinion, their music is better than ours, just because they have more respect for other people and thus more respect for themselves and what they are saying.

The way Koreans greet each other is often thought of as weird or stiff by my friends when I try to tell them about Korea and why I would like to go there. I personally think their way of greeting is more respectful. Bowing with the greeting that translates roughly to “good health?” is better than saying something like “hey” or “what’s up?” and a passing glance. Public shows of affection are also interesting. Here in the United States, you are more likely to see people of opposite genders showing a lot of affection in public, but because a lot of people are homophobic or just don’t approve of it, affection between the same genders is frowned upon. While in Korea, the opposite is true. Affection between the opposite genders is frowned up, but one is likely to see younger people and women often hugging, holding hands, or linking arms in public. You might even see grown men holding hands. This signifies friendship, not love, in Korea.

When it comes to dining etiquette, a lot of things differ between the way I’ve grown up and the way Koreans are, which I found interesting. They are not allowed to really do anything unless the eldest at the table does it first. So they could be sitting there for quite a while before they start eating if the eldest does not want to start eating right away. Here in the U.S. people sit where they want to, they start eating when they want to, regardless of age. In my family, it is a very rare occasion when we all actually sit a table for dinner. Normally food is taken into the family room so my parents can watch the evening news. In Korea, dinner time is for eating, not watching television, which I envy. When my family does eat together at a table, my youngest brother is normally the first to start eating, either that or it is the first person who is served food. Sometimes everyone is polite enough to wait to eat until everyone has their food, but most of the time they do not and just start eating when they get their food.

With the language variations and the different etiquettes in Korea, in my opinion, Korean culture is a whole lot more polite and respectful of those around themselves than people here in the U.S. every will be.


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EPIK what?

Hi everyone!

So, I’m having a bit of a panicking moment right now. Me, being me, didn’t realize that EPIK was first-come-first-served, so that started the slight panic when I found that out. Then today I found out that EPIK isn’t working with recruiters for the Fall 2015 intake period. Which means I have to apply to EPIK directly. Cue more panic.

I mean, it gets rid of having to worry about going through someone else, but it also means I don’t really have anyone helping me during the process. Which is nerve-wracking and panic-attack inducing.

So, being in a panic, I downloaded and started filling out the application form. Found out I have to submit copies of my recommendation letters with my application. Which is a bit of a problem… I finally found someone to write the second letter for me, but he’s currently in England, which means it will take like two weeks (at least) to get his letter here. And I don’t really want to wait that long to submit my application… so I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I also told him I didn’t need it right away because I didn’t know I needed it to go with the application, so I actually have no idea when he’s going to write and send it. It could be anytime because he’s currently teaching classes over there, so…yeah… panic? I guess I can attach the one letter I have and then say the other one is on its way from England to me? I don’t know.

And to complicate things even more! I’m moving again. Where to this time? My older sister’s place. Things where I am right now are really unstable financially, which means things are unstable mentally, and I’m not actually saving any money when I should be saving as much as I possibly can. So I’m moving in with my sister, her husband, and their two cats. When am I moving? In a week. Crazy, I know. One problem though… I will probably have to get my fingerprints redone because they have my current address on them and not the new address. When I got the fingerprints I wasn’t expecting to be moving before I sent them off… I guess I need to talk to someone about it and see what I need to do. But yeah, that causes a bit of anxiety too, not knowing if I need to worry about getting that done again. Also, finding a job again. I mean, my sister said she’s talked to a temp agency she’s really familiar with and they said they can get me into a job fairly quickly, so I guess we’ll see.

Sorry this didn’t have much to do with Korea or anything, I just wanted to update you on what the heck is going on right now, and say that I’m in a panic because my timeline has changed! -sobs- But oh well. Things are pushed up a bit, but I’ll manage. Oh, I have to get pictures taken too. I need to attach a professional picture to my EPIK application. So that will hopefully happen soon. No idea when though, but I’ll get it soon.

I still plan on my weekly post next week. And, since I don’t work tomorrow, I’ll be making an effort to write another post tomorrow. One that actually has to do with Korea, or EPIK, or the language, or something other than me complaining about how panicked I am right now. But yeah. I’m done now.