Korean Hugs vs American Hugs

31 Aug

Check out the comparison below. And you’re a liar if you don’t see the difference!

Original Free Hugs video (in Australia, but essentially same form and technique as American hugs)

vs “Free Hugs Seoul” with Korean-style hugs described below

Note: I’m mostly talking about my experience with hugging between friends or family. Not bf/gf!

One of my most favorite people in the world is a friend that I’ve known since nursery school. She’s super sweet, smart, tons of fun, and when she speaks Chinese with her mom, it is the most beautiful thing in the world. But more than super awesome sounding Chinese, one of the biggest reasons I love her is because of her hugs. She gives the best… hugs… EVAR. Her hugs are actual embraces. They have just the right amount of pressure and strength. And on top of that, every hug she gives is straight genuine, yo. Full of love and affection. And she’ll randomly hug someone for no reason simply because she wants to at that moment. She is probably the best hugger that I know! (My mom is up there too, but her hugs are super uncontrolled, so it’s too much to handle sometimes!)

As someone who grew up in America, I’ve learned to really appreciate good quality embraces. But a quality hug in America is very different than a quality hug in Korea. And I sure do miss American style hugging.

  • For one, hugging between the opposite sex is not as common as it is in America. And let’s be real here. There’s not many reasons for me to hug dudes. So that all equals me getting way less hugs here in Korea. 😦
  • Second, when I do get/give a hug, it’s usually an arm hug. Minimal body contact with the arms doing most of the work. I will typically reach for the head/neck area, but friends will usually give an underarm hug. This usually results in uneven leverage for decent hug pressure and strength.
  • Third, many of the hugs I give are one-sided. I’ll be super glad to see a friend I haven’t seen in a long time and be like: “I missed you!” and go in for a big embrace. My female friends, however, will usually just take it and wait. Usually I’ll get a few pats on the back and an awkward “I missed you too.” But most of the time it kinda feels like they’re just waiting for it to be over. ha!

Living here, I’ve learned to give Korean-style hugs. So if you’re a dude hugging a Korean female friend, try following my half-serious (mostly nonsense) step-by-step guide!

How to Give Korean Style Hugs

  1. Don’t go for the full-on embrace. Those are typically reserved for Korean drama mama type moments, like breaking up at a subway station.
  2. Keep bodily contact to a minimum. To do this, stick your butt out and hug with arms around the neck. Some shoulder contact is acceptable, but avoid boobage if possible.
  3. Pay attention to your timing. Naturally, hugs (even in Korea) can’t be too short. If you have a 1-pat hug and break, might as well be giving a pound to your homie. But you definitely want to make sure you don’t hug too long. Your female friend just might get the wrong idea!

Haha, alright, I’ve had my fun 🙂 But still very true! If you know what I’m talking about, holla at me in the comments!


Why I Love Living in Hongdae

23 Aug

I live in Hongdae, Seoul (see what my apartment looks like over here), and my neighborhood has tons of cool things to do and see. Come here if you’re looking for a salsa club in Seoul, photography lessons or cute cafes in Seoul! Let me know what you think about my hood! 😉

Getting Ready for War with N. Korea: Whatevs!

20 Aug

As many of you know, I work at the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU). And every year KNCU takes a day to address what should be done if war with North Korea was to ever break out. They have set tasks for everyone (i.e. call the police, medical assistance, etc.), emergency drills and even a briefing for cyber attacks.

Generally, everyone here in South Korea is pretty chill about anything that North Korea does. You know, when they send missiles into the sea or make threats to rain fire on the world, the western news is all up on that and people far away get scared. But people here are mostly like “Again? Oh hey! btw, did you watch Super Star K last night?!” It’s old news to everyone, and not such a big deal.

It seems like everyone in the office is like “aww, this again?” Although prepping for war is necessary, it seems to be more of a nuisance than anything.

If you like reading, I recommend North Korea: Another Country. It pretty much explains how everyone outside of Korea thinks North Korea is like an dangerous insane guy that’s swinging a knife back and forth, but everyone in South Korea thinks of them as a crazy harmless homeless man in the corner mumbling to himself. If you’ve ever been scared of North Korea, try giving it read.

I wish prepping for war with North Korea was like the video below. That would be mad fun!

Koreans Love Me, But Hate Me

31 Jul

Love always wins

Don’t read if  you’re not cool with truth bombs!

Whenever I tell Korean people about, everyone tells me that I’m doing such good and meaningful work. Koreans are very proud of their culture, and I am proud to be a part of it too! I see the beauty in Korean culture. I really do. I gladly share Korean culture with everyone, and for that, Koreans love me.

But at the same time, I am still a Korean-American–not a full Korean. I have a different way of sharing Korean culture than how Koreans might choose to do it. And for that some Koreans hate me (or at the least strongly disapprove of my stuff).

Take for example my video on Korean Punishments. I love this video. The punishments are things that I personally experienced in my life. This kind of stuff makes me feel super connected to Korea (which I love!). But some Korean people didn’t like the video because they thought I was criticizing the way Korean parents and teachers punish their kids. The fact that I talked about hitting children was a sore spot for some too. But the fact is… it’s a part of Korean culture. Nearly every Korean (older Koreans at least) experienced hitting from a family member or a teacher. Shoot, I experienced it, and I was a 2nd generation Korean-American living in New York!  To me, it’s a part of the culture that’s helped shaped me and also helped shaped Korea. And I think that’s awesome 🙂 (I was also glad to see youtube commenters experiencing the same things in their own cultures!)

I also just posted on The 5 Most Interesting People You’ll See on the Seoul Subway, and I’m sure there are going to be Korean people that are not happy with the post. There I write about blind beggars, feisty ajeoshis and pushy ajummas. Things that some Koreans think I shouldn’t write about. But these are real people that you’ll see on the subways, undeniable members of Korean society. And I think they’re interesting as hell. Many foreigners will only get to meet Korean people of certain backgrounds: educated Koreans, multi-lingual Koreans, Koreans with international experience, Koreans who are not poor. But I think that’s misrepresentative of Korean society.

There are things that people aren’t so proud of in their cultures (i.e. the reality tv show ktwon–although I must admit it is entertaining). But I embrace it all. I think it’s great that there are beggars that fake being blind. I think it’s awesome that ajummas don’t care and just shove everyone out if their ways. And who doesn’t like to watch a harmless fight between ajeoshis? I don’t want to be censored because to me, it’s everyone and everything, good and bad, that make Korea so interesting.

I see the beauty in all things Korea. Love me or hate me, your boy Keith is gonna bring it honest!

Thank You Everyone!

29 Jul

Thank you everyone! I asked for some help with some motivation, and so many people responded with comments, emails, and donations. I was really shocked to see a total of $480! Again, thank you everyone for all the great encouragements.

I was never going to stop working on I was just looking for a little more motivation. And I definitely got it.

If you can still donate, that would be great! It would really help me keep motivated, and keep making good content!
If not, consider liking my facebook page, and’s facebook page. I’d appreciate your support! Thanks everyone!

Recording with Songa tomorrow. Wish us luck! 🙂

Personal Plea: Keith Needs Some Motivation

19 Jul

I try to be as honest as possible with everything I do on the web. My personal belief is that if you’re honest, people will respect you and listen to what you have to say. So with that said, here’s what’s really up with Keith and as of this moment.

I’ve been running for almost 4 months, and I have seen phenomenal growth. This month there will be 17,000 unique visitors, which is pretty amazing for the short time span. Of course I haven’t done it alone. I am immensely grateful to talktomeinkorean and seouleats and everyone else that have so kindly believed in my content and shared it. Without everyone else, (and your homie Keith) is nothing. Really, really, really big thank you to everyone!

But the truth is, I’m losing steam! Although the growth and the response have been amazing, it’s kind of hard to keep going without anything that can materialize. So I’m making a one-time plea (hopefully!). In an effort to keep myself motivated and to really see if my online content can translate into something profitable, I am asking for donations. I’ve only had 1 donation so far, and it really made me feel good about my work. And honestly, I don’t want to ask, but I’ve run out of motivation for the moment, and I think this will help me pick up some steam again.

So! If you think and my own content here at have helped you in anyway, I’d really appreciate anything you can donate. It’ll show that people actually do care about my work, and that’s really important to me. Hopefully it’ll keep me motivated enough to keep going until I can make my own money.

Any donations, small or large, would be welcome via paypal (credit cards are ok). And if you can’t donate, I’d be super grateful if you supported my sites by liking seoulistic and gyopokeith on facebook. Thanks again everyone!

Click here to help motivate Keith with a donation!

P.S. – Taking a mental vacation until Sunday 🙂

Korea Then vs Korea Now: Korean Cultural Identity Crisis

16 Jul is a site dedicated to introducing Korean culture among other super useful tips. But here’s the problem: Korea itself is having a cultural identity crisis. I had a post about how Korea was different 10 years ago. That just goes to show how much and how quickly Korea is changing. It also makes it really difficult for me to create videos/posts that are 100% correct about Korean culture. Here’s a few examples:

– Touching in Korea: I made a video about what touching the opposite sex is like in Korea. The older people usually don’t get all up on each other, but some of the younger generation is all like “whatever, yo! lets get busy!” in public.

– Korean Style Punishments: this video was about what punishments are like in Korea. I showed the original video to a couple of people including @kyeongeun and @yo_ona. Hitting is old school… now it’s all like “I love you, i love you!”

– Being awesome on subways used to mean never siting in the priority seating and getting up for the elderly/kids/etc. But these days there are lots of younger Korean kids that are not that awesome and just stay glued to their smartphones (sometimes ignoring the elderly in front of them). Scary ajummas and ajeoshi’s 10 years ago would have ripped one into them, but now they just give em stank eye.

So it’s hard to be totally on point cause Korea is changing so fast. It’s kind of stuck between the old way and new way of doing things. While all the older traditions and ways of doing things is still true, it definitely is changing. Nowadays it’s all about being chic and modern, but personally, I like most of the old stuff much better. If you haven’t noticed, I’m an ajeoshi at heart 😉