Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

How to Survive Your First ChungDahm Teacher Party

Posted on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 12:18 PM

Many of my Korean friends say that I am an ‘honorary Korean’ who doesn’t know a lot of Korean. Living in Korea for the past three years, I have seen a lot, learned a lot and experienced a lot to the point that I have started to feel like I have been immersed and assimilated into the Korean culture. The Korean people have a great culture and if you live and work here, you have to try out. One of my favorite Korean pastimes is the company party or the ‘회식’. I am lucky to be part of the ChungDahm branch that I am in because we have a company party every few months (Thanks Boss!).


ChungDahm Teacher PartyChungDahm Teacher Party

Usually the first round of the company party involves dinner (bulgogi, samgyeopsal, sushi/raw fish) and a lot of alcohol. If your branch manager/branch owner goes, the one thing that I would greatly advise is watch out for the topics that you discuss at the table.  If your boss is there, you can have but remember to be professional. In my years being here, some of the topics that were discussed were not appreciated by my boss and it caused a disturbance in the group atmosphere. 

Here are some key tips to help you earn some bonus points with the locals when drinking in Korea at a party:

  1. Everyone does the first shot of soju together

  2. If you are pouring or receiving a drink, always pour our hold your glass using two hands

  3. The youngest one ‘maknae’ should be pouring the drinks unless someone older takes it from them

  4. You should always look away from someone you are drinking with especially if they are older than you (age is huge here in Korea)

  5. Don’t pour drinks for yourself, if you do, make sure someone else is touching your glass

  6. Cheers in Korean is Gun-bae ‘건배’ or Ji-wha-ja ‘지화자‘

  7. And if you see someone pouring So-Baek-San-Mek “소백산맥” you may want to run away. It is a mixture of soju, white soju, berry wine, and beer put in a tea kettle. Try at your own risk.

  8. And if you want to have fun, there are a number of drinking games that many Koreans would love to teach foreigners (guess the soju cap number, mandoo, Baskin-Robbin, and 3-6-)

ChungDahm Teacher PartyChungDahm Teacher Party

So this all happens if your group only has one round of drinks. Typically, there will either be a second or third round. A normal third round would be going to another bar or going to ‘노래방’ (karaoke room). Koreans love it when you sing with passion so you don’t have to be good, just have fun. All of the karaoke rooms here have tambourines and many of them have maracas. Don’t be afraid to shake and clap to your heart's content. Also, when doing karaoke in Korea, try to learn a Korean song or two, or sing a song that many Koreans would know (they really like Jason Mraz).

If you haven’t made it to a bar by the second round, then you may make it there for the third. If not a bar, you may want to head to a Po-jang-ma-cha ‘포장마차’. These are the very famous orange or green ‘drinking tents’ that you would see in many Korean dramas. Although it is cold outside, many of them have heaters inside which makes it quite cozy. You will see many groups or couples bonding over soju and noodles.


ChungDahm Teacher Party

If the second or third round isn’t for you, that’s completely okay. Just make sure you say good bye and thank the person who just paid for your awesome dinner and drinks!

Teach in Korea!

After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit. Follow him on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku for the latest happenings in South Korea.

Tags: only in Korea, drinking, cultural experience, cultural differences, karaoke, dishes in korea, cultural activities

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