Eat Your Kimchi
When I first started watching Korean dramas, I was amazed by the cultural differences between Koreans and Americans. I'm fascinated by the little things that are commonplace in another country, but seem batshit nuts to me. While watching my first drama, Boys Over Flowers, I barely understood any cultural references, and therefore thought the show was utterly ridiculous and, well, amazing. Now that I've watched 5 billion dramas and learned a lot more about Korean culture, I know that while BoF is completely nutso, a lot of the things I thought were gags or meant one thing, were actually completely serious and meant something entirely different. I learned a lot just by watching a lot of dramas and occasionally Googling while watching, but a big amount of the Korean knowledge I've acquired has come from Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi.
Simon and Martina are a married couple from Toronto that moved to Korea to work as English teachers. They started a video blog as a way of documenting their new life and helping other foreigners coming to Korea to adapt more easily. Early videos include how to use a rice cooker, how to use floor heating, how to pay your bills, etc. My personal favorite, and the series that has helped me understand dramas the most is TL;DR Thursdays Wednesdays, in which Simon and Martina answer a question posted by a fan. Some of my favorite topics that have enhanced my drama viewing include:
- How people of different ages aren't supposed to be friends. Often when two people meet and find out they're the same age they say, "Oh, we can be friends." Strange, right? Well, not in Korea. It's not like it's forbidden to be friends with someone of a different age, but it's not exactly commonplace.
- Different beauty standards. In dramas I'd constantly hear them talking about how they didn't want "A big face" and complimenting others on their "small face." WTF is a small face? Simon and Martina didn't completely get this one either, but it was helpful to know that this is a strange idea to other North Americans. I still don't get it. Everyone's face looks the same. I mean that size-wise, so IT'S NOT RACIST.
- Those sleeve cover things they're always wearing on their arms. WHYYYY?!
While in the past Simon and Martina have educated me considerably on the culture of Korea, they've moved more toward kpop reviews as of late. I'm not complaining - I love Kpop Music Monday, when they review the most-voted-for Kpop music video. They also helped me discover a lot of Kpop that I listen to all the time now. They even have their own Kpop chart, where you can find all the latest and greatest music videos. Eat Your Kimchi does put a lot of emphasis on Kpop, but they also do field trips around Seoul (Wonderful Adventure Now Korea AKA W.A.N.K) and food reviews (Food Adventure Program For Awesome People AKA F.A.P.F.A.P.) And Simon is Polish which automatically makes us kindred spirits. AND they have an adorable dog, Spudgy.
If you're interested in boning up on Korean cultural knowledge, getting into Kpop, or simply learning how to use a Korean washing machine, check out Eat Your Kimchi like, yesterday.
Eat Your Kimchi: Found on an internet near you.