Today is my partner’s birthday. Most of you probably know him, since we have been dating 3.5yearsish roundabouts. I had to give a shout out because I miss him like crazy every day. Its a little depressing that I can’t spend it with him, but that’s all part of the deal. Skype will have to suffice.
Onto a less melancholy topic: BOOZE!
So, when I interviewed for this position many months ago, there were some strange questions that were almost a little tag at the end of the interview. I was asked if I smoke to which I said no, and then I was asked if I drink to which I fumblingly answered something along the lines of “um, yeah, sorta, only sometimes though…I mean sometimes its nice to have a glass of wine at the end of the night…haha…” These questions completely caught me off guard and the fact that they were asked in a job interview really stuck with me and put ideas into my head as to some of Korea’s views on substance.
My preconceived notions were insanely off base.
I have never seen more people smoke in my life. There are more smokers here than in any part of America that I have ever experienced. It may be partially due to the fact that America has been very diligent on keeping the population aware of the health risks of smoking. It is also equally possible that the pervasiveness of smoking culture in Korea exists because cigarettes are crazy cheap. Like I was shocked when I saw them at a convenience store. No brand is over $3.00 and most are around $2.50, and I am not just talking about Korean brands, this includes Camel, Marlboro, Virginia Slims, and the like.
Regarding alcohol, when I take the five minute walk from my school to my bus stop every night, I see grown men (not just irresponsible young people) sitting outside of convenience stores just getting plastered. I don’t mean sitting on the curb, by the way, in Korea a lot of convenience stores have little patios so that you can enjoy the drinks or food that you buy inside. Anyway, serious adults just going all out on a weekday night and this is common. These people aren’t like crazy alcoholics that don’t have jobs. They are professionals who are respected within their circles. Intoxication, even public intoxication even on weekdays, is just totally acceptable here.
Coming straight from university, I am used to seeing some crazy substance usage, but seeing it on a scale like this was definitely unexpected, especially given my initial questioning by my potential employer last spring.
Here is a K-pop song for you all to enjoy: Heartbeat by 2 PM