This is an easy-to-read introductory book for foreigners to pursue their curiosity on Korea. This book tries to explain Korean culture by answering 80 questions on various subjects, including the characteristics of Korean customs, rituals and traditional ceremonies, manners, interpersonal relations and behavior, language and values, religion and folklore, food culture, housing culture, entertainment, pop culture, etc. The author gives an anthropological and historical explanation to these questions collected from international college students as well as from the internet.
“소개팅이 뭐예요? 한국에는 검은 차가 왜 이렇게 많아요? 뜨거운 물에서 왜 시원하다고 해요? 왜 결혼하면 국수 먹여 준다고 해요?” Understanding Everyday Life in Korea는 한국을 궁금해 하는 외국인의 질문 80가지에 대한 역사적, 인류학적 답변이다. 한마디로 이 책은 외국인들이 한국의 일상을 쉽게 이해하도록 도와주는 입문서이다. 한국의 관습, 종교행사와 전통의식, 예절, 인간관계와 상호 행동양식, 언어와 가치관, 종교와 민속, 음식문화, 주거문화, 오락, 대중문화 등 다양한 주제에 걸친 80개의 질문에 대해 설명하면서 한국 문화 전반을 이해하도록 돕는다. 이화여자대학교 국제대학원 한국학과 교수이자 이화여자대학교 한국문화연구원 원장인 저자는 외국 학생들의 질문과 인터넷에서 수집된 다양한 궁금증에 대해 역사적, 인류학적으로 풀이를 하였다.
****** 책 속으로
What is sogae-ting?
On every Saturday, many cafes and hotel lounges in Korea are crowded with young people on blind dates. The word sogae-ting is the term combined of words sogae (meaning an introduction in Korean) and –ting (a shortened form of an English word ‘meeting’). The word sogae-ting is equivalent to a blind date but its connotation is not that simple. Many words ending with the letter ‘ting’ used in Korean usually involve meeting someone and may sound exotic and strange to foreigners. For example, there are words like ‘meet-ting, sogae-ting, phone-ting, chat-ting, hunt-ting’ in Korean. Usually, these words are used in connection with interactions between men and women. These kinds of words continually crop up and disappear from time to time. What is the difference between sogae-ting and meet-ting? In short, sogae-ting is more like a one-to-one blind date. (…)
Why are there so many black cars in Korea?
Is it true that there are more black sedans in Korea than any other countries? There are quite a number of students who ask me why there are so many black sedans in Korea. This is a very interesting question but it is actually not an accurate observation. According to some statistics, approximately 35% of all cars in Korea are silver while 15% are white and 10% are blue and black, respectively. Red cars, a color favored by Italians, are very rare in Korea. Why then do foreigners think there are so many black cars in Korea? (…)
Why do Koreans like to go to a jjimjilbang just to lie on the floor?
Jjimjilbang which is translated as “hot sauna” does not fail to astonish first-time visitors of Korea. In fact, jjimjilbang has become a mandatory course for foreigners who want to experience Korean culture. The fact that jjimjilbang is spreading to places like America as well as Malaysia is something Koreans are very proud of.
Then what are Korean Hot Saunas like and why do Korean people go there to relax their back muscles? First, we have to understand Korea’s ondol culture. For Koreans who have developed a peculiar heating system of heating the floors, lying on a warm floor is considered to be good for their health and is thought to be the basic but most essential aspect of comfortable lifestyle. (…)
I. Greeting Manners
1. How do Koreans greet strangers for the first time?
2. Why is it rude to call older people by their names?
3. Why do Koreans ask personal questions to people they hardly know or meet for the first time?
4. When people meet their acquaintance by chance, why do they usually ask “where are you going?”
II. Social Relationship
5. What is jeong that Koreans often talk about?
6. Why is the meaning of “yes” and “no” unclear in Korea?
7. Why do Koreans share their glass with each other while drinking?
8. Why do Koreans call their spouses ‘our’ husband or ‘our’ wife?
9. What is sogae-ting?
10. Why do Korean female students hold hands or link arms with each other when walking together?
11. Why don’t Koreans knock on the door?
12. Why do Koreans prepare an enormous amount of food and tell their guests to eat more?
13. Why do Koreans seem quiet and reticent?
14. Why are Korean people so reluctant to wait in line?
15. Why do Korean women care so much about their appearance?
16. Why do Korean women wear strong and vivid colors?
17. Why do Korean women smoke in the toilet?
18. Who is ajumma?
19. Why do Korean men like to be called oppa?
20. Don’t Korean men need to serve the military when the two Koreas unify?
21. What age does one become a grandfather or a grandmother?
22. Why do Koreans seem to prefer squatting over sitting even outside their homes?
23. Why do Koreans fight for the bill in restaurants?
24. Why do Koreans feel uncomfortable eating out alone?
25. Why do Koreans rarely apologize when they bump into each other on the street?
IV. Study & Work
26. Why do high school seniors have dinner at their schools?
27. Why are Korean parents so obsessed with their child’s education?
28. Why do companies allow workers to come late on the day when the College Scholastic Ability Test is being held in high schools?
29. Koreans work without taking any breaks. Why do Koreans live such a hectic life?
30. Why do Koreans like using seals more than signatures in legal documents?
31. Why do people sitting in a bus or on the subway hold bags for those without seats?
32. Why do people yield their seats to elders on a bus or train?
33. Why are Korean bus drivers so aggressive? Why don’t they follow the traffic rules?
34. Why are there so many black cars in Korea?
35. Why do Koreans enjoy going to a noraebang after drinking?
36. Why do Korean films become so popular?
37. Why are Korean soap operas mostly about family issues?
38. Why do Koreans like to go to a jjimjilbang just to lie on the floor?
VII. Korean Food & Dining
39. Why do Koreans mix rice?
40. Why do people say that Koreans cannot live without kimchi?
41. Why do Koreans say they feel “siwonhada” (cool) when eating hot pepper broths?
42. Why do Koreans use spoons and chopsticks made out of metal?
43. Why are udon and japchae served in Chinese restaurants? Why are pickled radish and onions served along with these dishes?
44. Why do Koreans use toilet paper on the dining table?
45. Why do Koreans cut beef with scissors?
46. Why do Koreans put cherry tomatoes in desserts like cakes and ice flakes?
47. Why do Koreans hide dog soup in restaurants but state that dog soups are healthy?
VIII. Rituals & Cultural Heritage
48. Why do Korean parents get so involved in choosing their children’s marital partners?
49. When Koreans get married they sell ham, but what exactly is it?
50. Why is a Korean wedding ceremony so short?
51. Why do Koreans change from a Western-style wedding dress into a traditional Korean dress during their wedding ceremonies?
52. Why do Korean brides and grooms wear Western clothes and take wedding pictures in a royal palace?
53. When Koreans marry they say they will serve the noodle for the guests, but in fact, it is hard to find noodles in the wedding. Why does this happen?
54. Why do Koreans put food, alcohol and even cigarettes on their ancestors’ tombs and why do they perform a big bow, called jeol, in front of the tomb?
55. What is special about Korean funeral culture?
56. What is ondol?
57. Why is Hangeul highly praised around the world?
58. What is samullori?
IX. Beliefs & Values
59. Why is the Chinese zodiac important to Koreans?
60. Why do Koreans prefer to marry a man who is four years older than a woman?
61. Why are Koreans reluctant to write their names in red?
62. Why is Korea’s city nightscape full of red crosses?
63. Why are Korean temples so colorful?
64. Why do Koreans like magpies and dislike crows?
65. Why are Koreans interested in other’s blood types?
66. Why is the 4th floor written as “F” in Korean buildings?
67. Why are there so many apartments in Korea?
68. Why does the oldest person usually pay for everyone at a restaurant?
X. Traditions & Customs
69. What’s the meaning of Seollal?
70. What does Chuseok mean to Koreans?
71. Why do Koreans become one year old as soon as they are born?
72. Why do Koreans have seaweed soup on their birthday?
73. Why are most Korean names composed of three syllables?
74. Why doesn’t a Korean wife take the surname of her husband after marriage?
XI. Korean Identity
75. What is the origin of ‘Korea’ as a country name?
76. Is Korea an ethnically homogenous country?
77. What does Baekdusan Mountain mean to Koreans?
78. What is jokbo?
79. Why do Koreans hesitate to adopt children?
80. What is han?
Kim, Young Hoon (김영훈)
Kim, Young Hoon is Professor of Department of Korean Studies at the Graduate School of International Studies and the Director of the Research Institute of Korean Culture at Ewha Womans University. He is a cultural anthropologist. He received his degrees from Yonsei University (B.A.), Indiana University (M.A.) and University of Southern California (Ph.D.). He is the author of Culture and Image (2002), From Dolmen Tombs to Heaven’s Gate (2013) and has published articles in the areas of Korean cultural studies, visual studies, and Korean aesthetics.
이화여자대학교 국제대학원 한국학과 교수
이화여자대학교 한국문화연구원 원장
미국 남가주대학교(USC) 인류학 박사
미국 인디애나대학교(Indiana University) 인류학 석사
연세대학교 사회학과 졸업
문화와 영상: 영상인류학의 이해, 일조각, 2002
처음 만나는 문화인류학, 일조각, 2003 (공저)
韓國人の 作法, 슈에이샤, 2011
From Dolmen Tombs to Heaven‘s gate, 지문당, 2013