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  • maetyu26
  • Waygookin

    • 11

    • April 30, 2010, 08:16:09 pm
    • 대한민국 전남 곸성군
urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« on: May 14, 2010, 10:16:33 am »
Hey everyone,

My name is Matt, I just started as an English teacher at a culinary high school in Gokseong 3 weeks ago. So far it's great, I've already had plenty of ups and downs but for the most part it's been cool. HOWEVER, I've got a dilemma right now. Yesterday my workshop group (two English co-teachers and a history teacher who also wants to improve her English) took me out for a nice lunch yesterday, followed by a visit to a beautiful old temple. It was their way of welcoming me (I think?!) I had a great time, it was lots of fun, very considerate on their part, etc etc.


Today, first thing in the morning, I walk into the teachers room, and spot my co-teacher. I thought it would be proper of me to go up to her and just thank her one more time for yesterday's day out. Well.... I probably shouldn't have done that? Because she then turned around and informed ME that I would be hosting THEM at a housewarming party at MY place!!! (whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?!  :o ) And that this party would be taking place next Thursday (she declined my suggestion of sometime over the weekend, to buy myself as much time as possible...)

I just wanted to post here to see if anyone has been put in this kind of situation before. Is this normal? I know that they like teachers to sometimes host social gatherings, but has anyone straight up been told "You will host a party at x date" (to be fair she didn't phrase it like that, but basically the Korean equivalent, "Why don't you host us at a housewarming" with a big smile on her face, which I have come to decipher as indicative of a command.)

A couple of people I've talked to in the past couple hours said they have never heard of a situation like this, and have suggested trying to maybe take them out for lunch/dinner instead, which sounds great except I have no idea how intent or flexible they are in terms what I'm allegedly going to be doing for them. Anyway I would greatly appreciate any input any of you might have on this matter! 감사합니다!!!

  • c-bear
  • Explorer

    • 8

    • November 18, 2009, 02:32:47 pm
    • Changwon, South Korea
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 10:27:22 am »
My co-workers made a similar "suggestion" a few weeks ago for a housewarming party (although I've been here since August).  I don't think it has to be anything major.  I'm just going to have my office-mates over for pizza and maybe drinks.  I wouldn't stress about it too much.  If your place is a tad under-furnished, it may be a good way to demonstrate a need for a very comfy couch. ;)

  • sheila
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 1480

    • November 23, 2009, 08:32:58 am
    • Gangnamgu, Seoul
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 10:48:40 am »
I have never heard of this before.  When I arrived at my old school last year, my co-teachers actually took me out a could of times because they know that coming to Korea can be quite a change for some.  I think this is rather inconsiderate of your co-teacher since most of us upon arrival don't have a lot of money other than what the school has given us for moving.  When I came, I had nothing in my apartment and spend over half of that money just furnishing it with just the basics.  However, it also left me with very low funds for the rest of the month.  If this is the situation you're in, I would let them know that you would like to postpone it until you are more settled in to your apartment and financially more umm... 'stable' I guess. 
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard!

  • amandaz
  • Waygookin

    • 23

    • November 17, 2008, 09:05:16 am
    • Gwangju
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2010, 11:07:48 am »
I've been here two years and I've never heard of this before! Ahhh Korea. I would just make some sandwiches and have some beverages. They probably just want to see how you're living and check out your stuff. Although I've never heard of this, it doesn't surprise me at all.

  • BBetz1985
  • Veteran

    • 156

    • May 10, 2010, 02:07:45 pm
    • South Korea
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2010, 12:04:50 pm »
I have never had the invitation imposed on me, but I have hosted a number of times and found that it is just a way for them to get to know you a bit outside of the classroom/school atmosphere. "Personal space" is usually rather limited in scope, but if you embrace the idea and just let yourself out there a bit, I'm sure you will be glad you did.

  • kaymac
  • Super Waygook

    • 259

    • September 25, 2009, 03:53:47 am
    • Yeosu
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2010, 12:23:13 pm »
if you still aren't comfortable in your apartment totally just do as suggested and ask if it would be alright to wait. If your place is underfurnished or you're not keen to do any cooking, offer to take them out for dinner (if you can swing it) and then afterwards you can have tea or coffee at your house. I find every time I end up having dinner with teacher's there is an after dinner meeting for coffee or more soju (depending on your group!) If you have a really small place though they should understand, just say so. Hope it works out for you! I've had one or two teachers say they'd like me to cook for them one day but luckily no follow-ups!

  • kerrym
  • Veteran

    • 164

    • March 18, 2010, 09:52:47 pm
    • Ulsan, South Korea
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 01:34:39 pm »
Just a thought from my experience. As a new teacher, if you can swing it at all, host the party. It will carry lots of weight with the teachers and cement your relationship. To offset the costs, suggest that you will provide the drinks (go to Home Plus) and buy some beer and soju, and ask that they order food when they arrive. I had a "housewarming" when I arrived, and it was a great party and the Korean teachers had no qualms about sharing the expense. Plus, they will bring you tons of stuff for your house, ie. cleaning supplies, tissue, toilet paper, so you will never have to buy most of that the rest of your time here. I've been here 20 months and am still using the toilet paper they brought in bundles.

It is unusual that your teacher suggested it first, but it has the potential to be great fun, and the stuff they bring will offset the money you have to spend for the party.

  • isanghan
  • Veteran

    • 92

    • March 12, 2010, 01:47:38 pm
    • 경기도 안산시 상록구 이동 660-4번지 203호
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2010, 01:57:36 pm »
It's common that when Koreans move house, they have a "집들이" or housewarming. While it's a commonly asked question about when you'll be having yours, I think it's a bit presumptious of them to INFORM you of when you will be having one. I generally don't have 집들이 when I move, since my one room is too small to accommodate people.

That said, I like the suggestion of buying drinks and asking the co-workers to assist in ordering food. And, you'll get TONS of tissue! However, if you're still not keen on inviting them over, explain your reasons and perhaps suggest going out for dinner at a restaurant instead. If you're uncomfortable with doing something that your co-worker has asked you to, it's important that you communicate that to them from the beginning.

  • maetyu26
  • Waygookin

    • 11

    • April 30, 2010, 08:16:09 pm
    • 대한민국 전남 곸성군
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!! (update)
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 05:22:00 pm »
Hey everyone,

Thank you all so much for your input!!! I took a look at what everyone said and talked to a few others, and then I had a little chat with my co-teacher about the situation. I think (I hope?!) I managed to defuse the situation and buy myself a bit of time... also I think we had a bit of a misunderstanding in terms of what she was expecting (what else is new? lol). But anyway I think I will be able to work out and arrange some sort of get-together (or suitable substitute) and save everyone some face! Thank you all for your help!!

  • pez
  • Fanatical Supporter!

    • 86

    • May 28, 2010, 01:25:59 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2010, 10:52:34 pm »
Hi! A quick question: Will the school principal be coming to the "party"?
If so, its my understanding that your school principal HAS to visit you at least 1 time in the course of the year, just to make sure living situation is ok... its a formality.  Your co-teacher likely HAS to come, to translate.  It might something that is being suggested from the top down.

I was told what day the admin would visit, and was expected to have something small to eat and drink... like, cookies and tea or whatever.  But, this was a fun experience for me because I really liked my principal. She followed the event by taking me out to a really nice dinner, which I found out later she paid for and was not school sponsored (so that was really nice of her!)

(This was a little over a month after I arrived I think, so I had time to settle in...)
Good luck!

  • Ashlea
  • Adventurer

    • 33

    • December 07, 2009, 12:58:12 pm
    • Wonju, South Korea
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2010, 09:05:21 am »
Hey There,

I had this happen to me, when I came, they wanted to get to know me, so they decided that I would have a house warming party. They will choose a date that suits their calendar which was weird for me too.,..and it turned out to be on my i had to make dinner and have them over to my house on my birthday lol..they brought cake and small house warming gifts ( flowers, a plant, toilet paper (means that you will make a lot of money) and laundry detergent lol there is something about being rich and happy with that too lol) anyways, it's quite common and it only happened the one time, they will then proceed to invite you to their places afterwards.

  • Janitor
  • Moderator - LVL 2

    • 962

    • June 14, 2010, 02:01:32 pm
    • Ulsan
Re: urgent question of Korean etiquette!!!
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2010, 12:41:48 pm »
I have had this a few times. The one time I objected and my coworkers were still pissed at me for not having them over. I think most people nailed it on the head with the "just have some drinks and food ready" suggestions.

That being said, you will get benefits. Most of the time for a housewarming party it is customary to bring gifts. Most of the time they will be fairly basic but stuff that will save you money. Toilet paper is a nice one because really, have you seen the size of the packages they come in? 48 rolls, seriously.

At any rate, here are a few things to watch out for:
1) Make sure that your place is spotless! They will be watching for that.
2) Don't worry about seating, most of the time they will sit on the floor in a one room apartment.
3) Make sure that your garbage is sorted properly (i.e. food where the food waste goes and recyclables where they should go).
4) if you have things that you don't want them to see hide them carefully. Most of the time the apartment gets a once over. This is not a bad thing on your part but they are usually curious about how we live or about they apartment in general.

A few tips:
1) Be a gracious host and try to get them to try something from your country or something that you like. I had recently bought an espresso maker one year and I made all of my teachers vanilla lattes and they still talk about that when I see them.
2) Use your time effectively. Like someone said above, make it known what you need and chases are you will get it soon because once they've made that connection, they will understand that you are new here and that you need certain items.
3) Make a learning experience out of it. This is a great way to show your fellow teachers who you are and and what you like. It will save you a lot of foot work in the time to come.

I hope that this helps somewhat. it is always a new adventure here but you'll learn to enjoy the ride...