Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Guide for Kdrama Characters in America

Congratulations on your decision to visit the United States of America! Whether you’re here to work, attend school, or just loaf around while exiled from Korea, we think you’ll find our country to be full of interesting people and amazing experiences. But best of all, when you finally return home you will be forever seen as an exceptional individual, blessed with the sparkly glamor of having spent time in one of the world’s few remaining cultural, financial, and political superpowers.

America is a large country. Your homeland—inclusive of North Korea—is approximately as large as Minnesota, one of our mid-sized states. We’ve got 49 more just like it (plus assorted territories around the globe). As you can imagine, life and traditions in the different areas of this enormous country can be extremely varied. But in general, this list of helpful tips should guide you safely through your travels.

• First and most important, don’t panic. However scary America may seem as a nation of gun-toting drug fiends who wear shoes inside, it is quite common for tourists to survive their visits here. As someone smart enough to consult this list, the odds are likely in your favor.

• In light of your demonstrated tendency toward clumsiness, spectacular car accidents, and inexplicable bouts of amnesia, we suggest that you purchase traveler’s health insurance for the duration of your stay. Many American politicians are unwilling to insure their own constituents—as a foreigner, you’re well and truly screwed if you get sick here. Without insurance, you may be responsible for medical bills of up to US$100,000, depending on what kind of tomfoolery you get up to while in the States. We don’t have milk delivery or chestnut peeling jobs here, and doll’s eyes are traditionally applied in factories with staffs of full-time employees. Obviously, your only recourse in the event of a catastrophic health crisis would be paying for your treatment with an organ, which would only incur additional hospital fees.

Rooftop Prince: As demonstrated by this scene, many acts of violence you will encounter in America will actually be Korean-on-Korean.

• Much as you are able to live next door to an evil, megalomaniacal dictator without getting stressed out, we Americans don’t think about guns. Because Kdrama tourists almost never leave the Los Angeles or New York metro areas, any guns you see will likely be on the hip of a law enforcement professional. (Or possibly a criminal. In which case, you should stay low and not make eye contact.) Many American civilians do own guns, but studies show they’re more likely to use them to shoot themselves than they are to shoot you. It is recommended that you do as we do, and simply put this issue out of your mind.

• Most Americans speak only one language. While they may be aware that Korea exists, they are unlikely to be able to find it on a map or identify its language. To avoid confusion caused by their inability to understand your attempts at spoken English, we recommend that you install a translation app on your Samsung smartphone before leaving your homeland. This will not only allow you to communicate with the people you meet in the U.S., it will also ensure that you have a cheerful, laughter-filled visit.

Heirs: Fat people may not be fast, but they can be wily.

• America’s long history as a center of immigration means that you will see many people who don’t look like you. Do not be distressed; this is actually one of the best things about the United States. It is a nation made up almost exclusively of immigrants from around the world, and has often styled itself as a “melting pot” where various cultures and ethnicities are destroyed and replaced by Wonder Bread and blonde highlights. Whatever the skin color of the people you encounter, rest assured that they are probably too busy going about their lives to kill, maim, or sexually assault you.

• On a related note, fat people are as much an American institution as the Grand Canyon or the Lincoln Monument. Try not to stare, and whatever you do, never, ever refer to weight in conversation with them. They might get mad and sit on you—or worse, eat you.

• Yes, illegal drugs have been an ongoing problem in America. This is unlikely to present a problem for you as a tourist. Simply don’t agree to carry any unknown substance on an airplane, limit your consumption to mushrooms you recognize for their culinary uses, and stay away from needles wielded by anyone other than a health care professional.

Gentleman’s Dignity: According to a commonly cited American rule of thumb, she either needs to shrink two inches or get a longer skirt.

• In many parts of America, extremely short skirts are seen as inappropriate. As a nation, we are comfortable with only one variety of visible cleavage. The kind of skirt you wear on a daily basis would be considered a micro-mini in America (or, in some regions, a belt), and thusly reserved primarily for trips to bars, nightclubs, or strip joints. We humbly suggest limiting your travel wardrobe to hemlines no higher than mid thigh, with an inch of additional length for every hundred miles you intend to travel north or south of New York City.

• Don’t get fall-down drunk in public. While being sloppily inebriated doesn’t necessary represent a risk to your health or safety, many Americans think it’s crass. (Of course, there is one noted exception to this rule: denizens of suburban college campuses pride themselves on alcohol consumption and will likely be enormously impressed by your tolerance for liquor.)

• Be prepared for archaic banking practices. In America, there is no “send the money to this account number.” The transfer of money on these shores most often requires actual paper, either in the form of checks or legal-tender bills. Sorry about that.

Personal Taste: No American over the age of 4 has been piggybacked since before the Revolution.

• Do not be surprised to see public displays of physical affection by members of the opposite sex, including hand-holding, hugging, and even open-mouth kissing. Americans are an extremely demonstrative people, and casual skinship is so widely accepted here that the word “skinship” doesn’t even exist. One thing you will never see, though, is an adult giving a piggyback ride to another adult. America’s obesity epidemic has rendered this convenient method of transportation useless for her unfortunate citizens.

• While in America, you should enjoy our native cuisine. It may seem bland in comparison to the spicy dishes you’re accustomed to, but it will certainly be plentiful and very high in cholesterol. It’s actually possible to eat red meat three meals a day and without breaking the bank. You’re in for a treat—from McDonad’s Dollar Menu to gas-station beef burritos to bakery cupcakes topped with candied bacon, America is a nation flush with meat (and meat by-products). A few tips to increase your enjoyment: Don’t eat hamburgers with a knife and fork. Half the fun is mopping a slick trail of grease from your chin with every bite. Before s’more construction, verify that your marshmallow is extremely well toasted; it must retain enough heat to make its neighbor, a Hershey’s chocolate square, all gooey. When purchasing cake, don’t even bother looking for fruit toppings. This is too healthy for the average American. Obviously, we prefer buttercream roses.

We hope that you will enjoy your travels in our great nation, the land of the free and the home of the brave. (After all, anyone with a healthy sense of self-preservation moved to Canada ages ago.)

President Barack Obama


  1. I was pleasantly holding in my laughter until your "Sincerely," part. xD
    Man I'd love to see a Korean try to eat a sloppy joe with a fork and knife. Or, just eat one in general. Lol

  2. I have to agree with every thing. I also nearly died at the end!

  3. what a delightful post. I'm in the U.S. and I think these are all true. but I think people are the same wherever you go unless you're in a korean drama, sometimes it seems like a different world there. it's sad there are no piggback rides.

  4. It is also worth mentioning that a Korean spending time in America will invariably at some stage encounter a lost love or acquaintance from their childhood during their sojourn in America (a la All In).

  5. Loved this post. The "sincerely" part in the end totally cracked me up.

    "We don’t have milk delivery or chestnut peeling jobs here, and doll’s eyes are traditionally applied in factories with staffs of full-time employees." - Oh dear, how would a poor K-drama heroine ever survive in America?

    In America, there is no “send the money to this account number.” WHAT? You don't? That's terrible.

  6. I have nothing worthy to add but I want to tell you thanks for this extremely funny and entertaining post! I can never wait to read them later at home so I have to stiffle all the squeals and laughter at my desk. Yay, big applause!

  7. Great post and all so true! The only thing I can think to add is if they decide to go to school here (meaning K-12) they won't have to worry about being beaten by the teacher or disciplined at school in any way. We are all about student rights, not necessarily how great an education they receive! (Sorry, can you tell I work for a school district?)

    1. Great comment Elaine! Very biting but true. :)

  8. Ha! Tho, if K tourists do want to wear really short skirts and get falling down drunk in public, send them to the beach resort bars at night. Or possibly Walmart would do the trick.

  9. Nearly spit up my coffee as I was LOLz! A true MASTERPIECE!

  10. Oh dear, oh dear... *snickers* ^^

  11. Where is the super like button?? Really nice post!!

  12. great post... I'm not American but love your tiny and not so tiny bites...

  13. Amanda! Have you checked out that Potato Star cable sitcom yet? I had no interest in it at all until I came across this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pDfB9EVqqE&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D8pDfB9EVqqE&app=desktop

    Why couldn't the kisses been like this in Monstar?!

  14. Good one! Really enjoyed reading it - captions on the photos cracked me up!!

  15. I am at a faculty meeting - and just laughed out loud (literally) audibly enough to turn 54 heads in my direction with disapproving frowns. HYSTERICAL!

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