I was browsing the Korea Times online and came across this article:
10 Unique Korean Customs and Practices. Pretty interesting stuff, however I can relate to a few of them as the Chinese community here in Malaysia do practice some of these customs.
1) Honey, let’s go to a jimjilbang
The jimjilbang (찜질방)is a sauna type facility popular amongst Koreans of all ages. Some patrons even spend the night at a jimjilbang sleeping on floors together in the heated rooms. Stones high in minerals are used to heat the rooms and is said to promote good health.
2) Home sweet Ondol home.
Instead of radiators or the dreaded heat air-conditioner (which I don’t think works for the home because it just blows air around making it colder), Korean homes are heated by hot air or hot water circulating beneath the floors. This system is known as ondol (온돌).
3) Don’t pay rent
Wow, the jeonse (전세) method of renting a home is pretty neat, if one has the cash to spare. When renting an apartment, tenants pay the landlord a huge deposit when the lease is signed. Tenant goes on to live in the apartment without paying any rent while the landlord invests the deposit in the bank and collects its interest. When the contract ends, the full deposit is returned and the landlord keeps the interest. Wait a minute… did I just not pay a single cent?
4) Adultery is illegal
Oh yes, we’re all aware of that since the hullabaloo between Ok So-ri, Park Chul and the Italian Chef.
5) No gifts please, just envelops of money
Instead of presents, envelops of cash are given out at weddings, birthdays and funerals. Well what do you know, the Chinese in Malaysia do that too. Hmm… I’m inclined to think that this practice is deeply rooted to Chinese tradition as we’re blatantly money minded. ;p
6) Private tutoring
Oh yes, this is a big thing in Malaysia too. Although I never was enrolled into any, I was either very lucky, or very unlucky… my grades suffered a great deal. Oh well! Ancient history I say! But the private tutoring industry seems a lot bigger in Korea, it is estimated to be worth 20 trillion won.
7) Beating the groom’s feet
Friends of the newly wedded groom string his bare feet up with rope round the ankles and beat strength and stamina into his soles with a dried yellow corvina (a grape vine variety) to ensure a productive honeymoon.
8) Baby destiny
At a baby’s first birthday party, parents line objects such as rice, a pencil or thread for the baby to choose thus determining the baby’s future. If the baby picks rice, then he will never go hungry, pick a pencil and he will be a scholar or choose thread and he will have a long life. Now, modern parents are updating tradition by adding more objects like microphones (entertainer) or golf balls (the next Tiger Woods).
9) Delivery service
Get everything under the sun delivered and Koreans use this service well from having food to dry-cleaning delivered to your home/office/wherever you may be. Convenient for a 3am hunger pang when leftovers just won’t do.
10) Sharing glasses
When you finish your glass of liquor or beer, fill your glass and pass it to your buddy while he does the same. Swapping spit sharing glasses is a symbol of friendship. The Chinese do the same thing by eating from communal dishes at the dining table. Loogie exchange sharing is said to bring ties between friends and family closer. But the practice is becoming less frequent in Malaysia due to hygiene concerns, thank goodness.