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My Korean Parents

May 19, 2008   

I saw this hilarious list on a blog. I’m sure it’s made the rounds before, but I was chortling through the list. Not everything applies, but for the most part, this list makes me feel that I shouldn’t have wasted so much time telling stories about my family life on this blog and just posted this list instead.

How you know you have really Korean parents…

  1. Your mom keeps her rubber bands around the kitchen sink faucet handles. I have a tendency to do this too, which I have been successfully fighting for the last several years.
  2. Your mom uses water and an old rag to clean everything.
  3. Your mom has a bag of frozen anchovies (meh-ruh-chee) in the freezer.
  4. Your parents have a free calendar hung on their wall from church or the local Korean market.
  5. Your mom randomly tells you what their friends’ kids have done, especially if they did something good for their parents. You feel like they are comparing you to them…which they are.
  6. A date night for your parents, is lying in the electronic heated blanket with thick puffy faux fur Korean blankets in the living room watching Korean videos. I don’t believe a child of Korean parents actually listed something called “date night” even if just to make fun of it. Also, this situation was really every night.
  7. When going to the beach with your mom, she’s covered from head to toe with her 10-inch sun visor, her Robotech sunglasses, lightweight jackets and such. In fact, they will most likely drive to the beach, look at the water, say ‘Choop-TAH!!!’ and then drive back home after one hour. This is the only one that is really blatantly wrong.
  8. If your parents call you ‘Kah-She-Nah’ or ‘Jah-Sheek’ if you haven’t called them in over a week and then feel guilty about it.
  9. When you were in 1st grade, your parents used rice instead of buying Elmer’s glue. This really went on well into high school. And anytime I run out of glue, I still do this. What?!
  10. Your mom has a collection of empty kimchi jars for future use, big rubber basins in the backyard for making kimchi, a gallon of koh-choo-jang and a 20lb bag of rice. I also often have a 20lbs bag of rice. Not right now though.
  11. Your dad will even comment on the koh-choo-jang or gihm being really good b/c it’s from Korea but you can’t tell the difference. Only if his mom had sent it. 😀
  12. Your mom washes dishes by hand (only using the dishwasher on special occasions)
  13. Your parents rarely show teeth or have big smiles in pictures. Nah, my mom is a big smiler. 🙂
  14. You get straight A’s on your report card with one A- or B+, and they have a huge fit about it -OR-Your parents are worried about the A- or B+, and say do better next time and pray about it but then tell you no TV or going outside to play until next report card time. Let’s not tiptoe around the issue: most of us got our butts/legs/hands/back/whatever whupped pretty damn badly whenever this happened. Not going out to play as punishment? Yeah, right.
  15. A son or daughter of someone they know gets into an Ivy League school and their parents are touted as being the greatest parents ever!
  16. When your mom cooks, she never measures anything. And when you ask her how much you should put it in…she says ‘ah…you know… a little bit here…a little there. Just taste.’ This makes me insane. 🙂
  17. If someone walks into a room/house with shoes on, it makes you highly uncomfortable and nervous. I’ve finally gotten used to it after living at our fixer-upper. But after we get the floors redone, it’s off with shoes and on with slippers with the lot of you! 🙂
  18. Your parents are looking for a toothpick after they’ve eaten at a restaurant. When they find one, they cover their mouths with one hand while picking their teeth with the other.
  19. Your parents have lived in the U.S. for over 20+ years, and they still don’t vote. By God, my mom will vote this year.
  20. Your church parking lot has more Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes cars than the local dealership.
  21. Your dad or mom planted something in your front yard, backyard, wherever there’s dirt – they’ll plant and grow. Betchoo? Genyip? Something…
  22. When you’re around your parents, your tone changes and you speak like a baby or little kid ‘Uhhhhh-MMMMMaaaaahhhhHHHHH! Nah beh goo pahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!’
  23. If you are a girl, you spend $150-$250 getting a straight pah-mah to make your hair look ‘naturally’ straight. Don’t judge me.
  24. When you go to the beach for a BBQ, camping or an amusement park, your parents bring the 3 golden Ks – kimchi, kalbi, kimbab. I could eat these three things everyday, for every meal.
  25. Your parents have embarrassed you in public before by their mannerisms (dad yelling too loud ‘Eun Jung AHHHH!!! YUH-GEE-WAH!!!’, parents swearing in broken English at another driver).
  26. Your parents are part of some sort of social group. It usually involves secret group money collecting/exchange (pyramid or “gehh”).
  27. Getting toilet paper, toothpaste, or any highly practical item is an appropriate and wise prize during team games at Church Picnics or Christmas Parties.
  28. When eating a grilled fish, your mom or dad eats the fishhead and eyeballs like it’s filet mignon.
  29. Your mom always dresses up when going out of the house. At home, she dresses like a homeless woman wearing your old clothes/sweats and mismatching.
  30. Your mom works more than full-time, cleans, cooks homemade meals, sews, serves, is always go, go, go and worries so much that she nags you about what you’re going to do with your life.
  31. Your dad has never cooked or washed dishes in the kitchen but man, when it’s time to grill that kalbi….he’s all over that! Not even grilling gets him out of the couch.
  32. You communicate through your mom what you need to tell your dad and vice-versa
  33. Your dad is always on the couch after work, quietly reading the Korean newspaper or watching the Korean news/videos.
  34. The Korean newspaper is the 2nd bible to your parents.
  35. Your mom knows a friend, who had a friend, who had a friend….that something bad happened to therefore, you need to listen to your parents and do as they tell you although there is no logical connection whatsoever to the story they just told you (usually that ‘friend’ is just a news article they read from the Korean newspaper)
  36. Your dad would explode and yell with a passion about once every few months or year. The rest of the time, he’s quietly reading the newspaper. *cough*every two or three days*cough*
  37. Your parents never paid for napkins…they just took a whole stack from McDonald’s, restaurants…etc. And we also had “salads” from the Roy Rogers hamburger fixings bar. The horror.
  38. When you were younger and at a restaurant with another Korean family, your parents would fight over the bill…usually the dads…they start grabbing it out of the hand and/or try to pay and the other one pulls him down going …’ah yai..yai..yai”…sometimes this back and forth process will take 15 min. – everyone else waiting until the parents duke it out and pay. My friends (esp U, who is not Korean, but clearly we have been brainwashed by the same kind of mindset) and my cousins do this too.
  39. Your parents always eat some sort of fruit for dessert…apples, Asian pear, oranges…and your mom peels the apple skin, the core and slices it into ‘crescent’ shape pieces.
  40. You just love, love, love them Korean faux fur blankets and/or heating floor pads. (Nowadays it’s Ceragem!)
  41. There is some piece of Korean furniture in the house somewhere like a folding Korean table or a black ebony chest with cranes all over it. Mine is in the closet. 😀
  42. Your mom has bulk packs of Korean nylon knee high stockings – and wears them with sandals.
  43. You’ve been called an ‘Ee-nuhm-ja-sheek’ or ‘Kah-she-nah’ by your parents many times in your life
  44. You eat seaweed soup on your birthday prepared by your mom! Hopefully, by Seppo this year!
  45. When you or guests are leaving your parents’ house, they wait for you to get into the car and leave before they go back in the house. Won’t close the door, until you’re gone. Doesn’t matter if it’s freezing cold outside…they’ll linger and wait until you’re gone first before they go back in the house.
  46. Your mom has short-permed her hair several times since you left the house for college, each time you come home it is a different short perm style. She probably has a short perm right now.
  47. You have an aunt (emo) that always slips you a $100 bill when they see you. They try to do it discreetly too which makes it all super secretive but then your mom sees and says ‘aii…uhnee’ and your aunt goes ‘ah..dehsuh..dehsuh..’
  48. Your parents have told you that you will die in the middle of the night if you leave the fan on running…. I still half-believe it, even though my rational mind knows it’s 100% wrong.
  49. Your parents ALWAYS want you to stay home and not go out – read a book instead, etc. They never had to tell me to read a book. 😀 But yes, home by default, permission to leave by Special Grant Only, which only happened like once a year, except for church activities and after-school clubs. I was in so many clubs…
  50. When you ask your parents if they need help, and they say no, but they really mean ‘yes’ so don’t ask, just do it! Corollary: They also will believe that if you really want to help, you will just do it, and not ask, so if you ask and take their word for it, you really didn’t want to help. 🙁
  51. Your parents eat kimchi with their spaghetti. They don’t eat spaghetti, but kimchi goes with everything, yo.

May 20, 2008 at 10:07 pm

flour and water makes excellent glue – who needs elmers?

and yes, kimchee goes with everything. looooove me some kimchee.

May 28, 2008 at 3:58 pm

A lot of those apply to Japanese parents as well (well, except all the kimchee and shouting in Korean bits 😛 )

And I’d always wondered if the leaving-the-fan-on-will-kill you stories I hear about Korea were true! That’s *awesome*! I read somewhere that they had a “scientist” on some TV show explaining that the fan will chop up the air molecules, thus suffocating you. In Japan, they just say leaving the fan/AC on at night will make you sick. Not sure why.

May 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

The specific variation on the fan thing that I’ve been brainwashed with involves leaving the fan on and having it point to your head or uncovered torso. Like, there is no danger if it is pointing toward your feet.

It’s actually really hysterical. Wikipedia has this hilarious sentence: “The belief in the myth of fan-death often offers several explanations for the precise mechanism by which the fan kills.”

I am CRYING here, people. X’D

May 28, 2008 at 5:28 pm

It’s hilarious/scary that even government funded agencies are getting in on the paranoia (according to the wiki page).

“The explanation of fan death is accepted by many Korean medical professionals.”

Remind me never to get sick in Korea 😀

Mary Witzl
June 4, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Whoa: I think I could be an honorary Korean. Except for some of the food stuff, I checked ‘Yes’ for almost all of these. For that matter, my parents could have checked most of these too. We saved each and every rubber band, used rags and water to clean stuff, and if they’d known about the rice glue thing, they’d have gone for it. They didn’t say ‘choop-tah’ at the beach, though — they said “It’s too cold!”

In fact, I’ve got a big jar of kimchi in the refrigerator right now. Our kids love showing their friends — “Look at the weird stuff my mother likes!” Sadly, they won’t touch it.

When we lived in Japan, lots of people used to think I was Korean over the telephone. I don’t think I could count the times I had to explain that I was American. Now you’ve got me wanting to write a post about this…

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