10 Things I Wish I Could Teach the Korean Kiddies

Things I WISH I could teach my kids. Not that I haven’t tried (ooooh, how I’ve tried), but some things just can’t be taught. Because you know, cultural differences, language barriers, and just sheer unwillingness to deviate from the norm in Korea.

1. One word: “PLEASE”. To be fair, the Korean version of “please” is “juseyo”, which just means “give to me”. I heard there is a more direct translation, but it’s rarely used. So instead of “Teacher, can I have a piece of candy please?” it’s more along the lines of “Teacher give me candy!!!!!!!”

2. Two more words: “THANK YOU”. Ummm I just gave you candy, I’d appreciate some gratitude. 

3. Spitting (and I’m talking hocking up a giant…how can I say this more eloquently?…uhhh “dislodging substantial amounts of phlegm”) is disgusting and spreads germs. Spitting INDOORS is just – I can’t even.

4. Not washing your hands after the bathroom ALSO spreads germs. Gross gross gross.

5. If you’re “hot” inside the classroom when it’s 4 degrees outside, DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT open the windows to let in the arctic winds of Korea. Take off one of your 2 down coats or 3 sweaters. That should help.

6. Feeding me [aka shoving into my mouth] cookies and [unwrapped] candy while passing me in the halls shouldn’t be the norm. I appreciate the gesture but just – just no. (Especially because of #4.)

7. Mexico is a real country and Mexicans are real people. Please stop bursting out in hysterical laughter every time this country is mentioned.

8. Being sleepy/tired because you stayed up until 4am playing League of Legends is NOT the same thing as being “sick”, so no, you may not sleep during my class.

9. How to form a proper line. Crowding around me yelling “TEACHER GIVE ME STAMP!!!” while shoving papers in my face is not efficient. I realize this is a bigger problem, as proven by banks and even cinemas having the DMV-like-system of pulling tickets at the entrance and waiting for your number to show up on the overhead screen because of certain people’s inability to patiently stand behind another person who got there first. But I think that if we can teach ’em young, there’s hope.

10. Bless me (or anybody else) after they sneeze. I feel very neglected and slightly belittled when I’m not blessed. Okay, so this last one is probably more of a personal problem but still.

Anyway, I still love you, you crazy crazy kids 🙂

**This is in no way representative of Korea as a whole. More of just a semi-bored teacher venting after a rough day teaching crazy middle schoolers 🙂

Aaaand for your viewing pleasure:

uhhh..yeah…these are real posters in Japan.


  1. #6 and #7 really surprise me. They really do that?!

    Your photos at the end cracked me up 🙂


    1. haha yes! It’s so bizarre. The whole, cookie/candy thing makes sense because Koreans are all about sharing their food. But the whole Mexican thing…I just don’t know. Another English teacher here (from The States) said that the textbook & corresponding video they use in class had a section that involved Mexico somehow and it basically just portrayed them all as sombrero and poncho wearing mariachi players. So that may have something to do with it…


  2. Hahaha omg YES. All of these, yes. I’d also add that dust is NOT going to kill you, so you don’t need to open the windows every time you sweep. And fan death is not a real thing.


    1. hahah YES how could I forget fan death!! It’s kind of strange how hygienic they are with some things (dust and their need for fresh air, brushing their teeth after every meal, etc) and then not at ALL with others (washing their hands after the bathroom, spitting). Ooooh Korea.


  3. Oh my god, those posters! I’m crying!


  4. It appears that most Asian countries do not say bless you or words to that effect after someone has sneezed. Why is the blessing necessary anyway? Is it for not catching a cold?


    1. I always heard it’s because your heart stops beating while you sneeze but I agree that it’s not really “necessary”, it’s just being extra polite in some countries 🙂 Wikipedia also says that a long time ago, sneezing supposedly opened up the body to evil spirits so people would “bless you” so they can’t enter!


      1. Ha! Did not know that. I suspect that the evil in the medieval case represents virus or bacteria that causes diseases given the strong link between medicine and religion in the early days.


  5. I found the opposite to some of your points, I have been to Korea numerous times, have Korean friends and they’re all very OCD about washing hands, hygene, and politeness, so some of the things you listed were very surprising but I guess everyone’s different and can have different experiences.
    I have found Korea to be a very polite and extremely hygenic country with it’s confucious background and such however I did notice the younger generation seems to be getting a little bit unruly though, becoming a bit like the kids in my neighbourhood where I live at the moment. I guess parents aren’t strict enough these days.


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