Monday, November 30, 2009

Never tell a Korean you like/eat kimchi!

Ever since I arrived in Korea back in 2007 I've been given so many gifts by colleagues, students parents and friends. Just as gift-giving is widely practiced here, so is the nature of reciprocation.

I've been deeply touched by the hospitality of Koreans I've met. Many times, I feel embarrassed to accept certain gifts from them.

One lady, Mrs Park who after knowing that I love dol-sut bi-bim-bap and pa-jon insists that I visit her place every now and then for her to make these dishes for me. How do I reciprocate? I take gifts for her, like bread or fruit.

The other day on my way to work, I passed one of my students with her mother, who asked me if I like and eat kimchi. When I said yes, she said that she'd give me some the following week.

Coming home this evening, I shared the elevator with a man who I assume is in his mid-40s. We're on the same floor, so I greeted him out of courtesy. He said he's not seen me around for a while. He ask me if I eat kimchi, and before I thought of my answer I said "Yes, I eat it" - I can't seem to think as fast when I'm speaking Korean! (saying you eat kimchi to a Korean scores a foreigner BIG points). He was carrying a large, yellow E-Mart packet. He took out a small container - which I thought he was going to give me, but instead he wanted to give me the HUGE container, which could have easily been 5kg!

That would last me for the next few months. There was NO way I could accept that. I thanked him profusely, but told him (politely) that I couldn't accept it from him. I was so touched by his gesture...

Mental Note to Self:
Never tell a Korean person I like/eat kimchi!

As I said before, I'm a little embarrassed to accept gifts from people... I really am! So to avoid this, maybe it's safe to tell a little lie now and then!


Unknown said...

Ha ha, good one.. and what is the Kimchi by the way? Sound like a good dish.. Take care

Sheetal said...

Chetan: Click on the word "kimchi" in red - I hyperlinked it to show readers what it is :)

Unknown said...

i did it now...:)