Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Couples Clothing ~ CRAZE (UPDATED 10/9!)

In Korea, a lot of Korean couples - married or dating - enjoy matching.  Where I'm from, it's frowned upon. And not everyone in Korea enjoys it or does it, but it is by no means an uncommon sight!

This old beer commercial has always stuck in my mind. It's a series of commercials where men are caught doing things which men 'aren't supposed to do' because it's not considered "manly".

In this commercial, some guys are having a BBQ, and one of them shows up wearing matching shirts with his girlfriend.

Couples clothing does not go unnoticed by westerners in Korea. A former coworker of mine snapped these shots of couples in the act and created a photo album. She titled it...

"Gruesome Twosomes"

 Matching pants, shirts, and shoes!



 Seems like the girl got the raw end on this one...

 But usually it seems it's the guy who wears a woman's shirt.
This guy... well, absolutely NOTHING he has on matches.

 And a couples bike, too.

Looks like she just bought whatever he happened to have in his closet...

With matching popped collars. Looks like the guy suspects he's being photographed. haha

Running is mental!
With matching shoes, capris, and shirts... and luggage?

The guy won this couples clothing choice battle, I think.

When families do it, seems kind of nice. 

 To me, it looks like they both are getting a bad deal with these shirts.

They really... (to be continued) the... (to be continued)

 ...popped collars! (finished)

I love it when they even match shoes... haha

 In Korea, these actions are frowned upon.

I don't quite understand it, but some Korean guys actually lead their partners like this guy is doing.
In USA, that is very domineering.

I actually kind of like this one.

Where's her baseball cap?


 MANY MANYs. shirts, jeans, open jackets.




Is it just me... or does she look a bit young for him?

 And I believe this guy is a foreigner. haha

He put his foot down when it came to matching her color...

 I'm so glad he doesn't have a ribbon like hers!

I guess this is a popular couples shirt style...

See above.

Many who fall in love in Korea succumb to the Couples Clothing Craze! But what about you? Do YOU like it? And would YOU do it for the one you love?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Korean Urban Legends: Growth and Death (UPDATED 11/21)

Westerners are often surprised to learn about two wide-spread beliefs in Korea that stand in sharp contrast to what we believe. 

Fan Death
1) If a person sleeps in a closed room (closed meaning no doors or windows are open) with an electronic fan running, that person could die.

Jump to Grow
2) If a person plays basketball or jumps rope when they are still growing, it will help them to grow taller. (perhaps this could be spread to any activity involving jumping!)

In Korea, both of these are commonly spread and accepted by Korean people. Speaking with some, they will affirm these things as facts. 

Fan Death
Of these two urban legends, this one most certainly is not true. Fear and warnings of Fan Death are unique to Korea (although sightings of Fan Death warnings are reported in Japan, too). Origins of this are unknown to me, but the Wikipedia Fan Death page can give more background information.

I have grown up my whole life using electric fans in closed rooms during summer and sometimes year round. The humming of the fan has helped me sleep well. So from first hand experience, I know something is wrong with this belief.

The real culprit in this belief is the media. As recent as 2011, newspaper reports of a Fan Death incident have appeared. Fan Death is a concept pushed by Korean newspapers; and Korean people generally believe what is written in newspapers. I want to note, however, that reputable Korean sources, experts from two of Korea's leading universities, do not accept 'Fan Death' as a reality. Slowly, this belief and the internet, combined with external skepticism, is where the crap hits the fan. (see what I did, there?)

UPDATE 2 (11/21): 

Here is what SNOPES.COM has to say about Fan Death:

Also, there's a famous blog called "ASK A KOREAN", where he delivers a powerful yet controversial post that Fan Death is REAL. Before you dismiss it, read his argument and presented evidence CAREFULLY!

Jump to Grow
 Recently I broached these subjects with a girl in her early 20s. When I asked if she believed these things, she said, "of course! Why?! Aren't these facts?" She told me that even experts in Korea, meaning doctors who specialize in growth or something related, often recommend playing basketball or jumping rope regularly to help children grow. And this isn't uncommon at all. A young grade school boy I know was taken to a specialist to learn how tall he could be able to grow, and what he might be able to do to achieve his growth potential.

On another occasion, I mentioned that I would be writing about these things to a Korean friend of mine. I asked if they were aware that many Korean people believed these things. I worded my question like that, and the response sounded a little defensive, as in: 'of course I'm aware of these facts.'

This urban legend is more about miscommunication combined with the effects of word-of-mouth errors or lack of understanding. It's not true to say that jumping doesn't help a person grow. It's just not true to say that, specifically, JUMPING helps a person grow. Rather, it's more accurate to say that EXERCISE helps a person grow.

For young people who are still growing, three main factors are very important in stimulating and fostering growth: sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Basketball will help people grow, and so will jumping rope, and so will dancing, and so will playing soccer, and so will stretching... but it's not specifically related to the 'jumping' as much as it's related to just getting exercise.

Jump to Grow: Additional Research
For Americans and other foreigners living in Korea, it can be easy to miss these kinds of beliefs - particularly if you don't speak Korean. Since I teach sixth grade at a very reputable private elementary school, I recently took a poll of my students during break time. At that age, since they are growing, they hear a lot about it. I asked how many of them have heard that basketball or jumping rope makes a person taller. They all looked at each other and agreed - they all have been taught that fact. I asked "where did you hear that?" They answered: teachers, parents, and doctors. It's a well known fact in Korea. Some of these sources are aware that exercise is the key, and not necessarily basketball or jumping... but some of those sources genuinely believe that the physical act of jumping stretches a person out to make them taller.

Well, I'm not writing to jeer about urban legends which Korean people generally accept but which westerners don't agree with. After all, every culture or society has beliefs that are popular or common, and we accept even without proof.

I myself am a Christian, so I have my share of beliefs which I take on faith as being true without having experienced their truth, myself.

Responding to Korea's Urban Legends

The uncertainty of Korea's fan death is certainly better than my home country's reality of fan death. A person should take care, when touching on these topics with Korean people, so as to avoid sounding condescending or offensive. In short: don't be a jerk. These beliefs seem silly to Americans, sure, but nobody likes a person who raises themselves above others by talking down to them on any subject, whether the arrogant person is right or wrong.

Korean people are very concerned about height. In Korean culture, if a person is under 180 cm (about 5'11") tall, they are considered a "loser". It can be quite a sensitive subject which causes stress on the younger generations. A guy I know who teaches 5th grade at an elementary school had his kids write about goals they have for their future. A very large number of those kids wrote that they had a goal of becoming taller... and not being a "loser" is a very real idea on their minds.