In Korea, it’s common for there to be staff dinners (or hwaeshiks) in which a vital part of work relationships are formed over food and drink. Unlike back home, where there are the dreaded Christmas parties once a year to attend, these happen every couple of months.
Many speeches and bottles of soju or beer later, everyone feels a lot closer. It’s common for the principal or vice principal to come around to each staff member and do a shot with them.
Proper shot etiquette is to hold your shot glass in both hands while they pour. Then knock it back in one go using both hands while turning your head slightly sideways, and give the same glass back to them so you may pour a shot which they may down in the same manner.
And it’s not just the drinks that come in plenty: Koreans are obsessed with side dishes, small samplings to taste alongside the main meal (which usually is some form of communal soup or barbecued meat).
For the scale of this, before and after shots are needed.
This is a many (many) course meal which begins slow as you wait crouched like tigers around the agonizingly slow cooking meat, and then suddenly seems to speed up far too quickly. One minute you’re stuffing your face with the first taste of sizzling pork, and the next the waiters are bringing soups, steamed eggs, rice, salads… So a word to the wise: pace yourself.
After the meal, even though bloated and feeling like all you’re capable of doing is rolling down the sidewalk, it’s time for noraebang, aka karaoke. I’m usually quite lucky and can go home early at this point to attend to my food baby, but I’ll often come to school the next day to witness tired coworkers nursing their hangovers with small paper cups of tea.
So what do you think of Korean coworker parties? I’ve been noticing a lot of views from people all around the world (hello!!), so I’m curious – how does it compare in your countries?
Until next time!