"You Look Bad"

"You look bad," Ms Ahn greeted me when I arrived at work this morning.

To put it bluntly, Koreans are, well, blunt. They're not shy about asking for your age and marital status upon meeting you for the very first time. This, however, is related to the necessary act of finding out your social level, which determine greetings, verb-endings, and socials practices like pouring drinks and paying for meals.

But things get even pricklier when they comment on your weight---a sensitive subject to most Westerners. Koreans like to describe people as "fat" if they're overweight. At work, I've been told to pick up forms from the "fat" teacher, whereas I would have picked out her job (secretary) as her most defining feature. They certainly aren't shy about telling you you've gained or lost weight; commenting on my weight is a lunchtime ritual for some of my female co-workers.

My personal favourite, though, are all those Monday mornings when my first class welcomes me with: "Teacher! Dark!" as they point under their eyes. "Yes, girls. Thanks. I'm tired, okay?"

I have to remember that they're (usually) not being rude, they're just making an observation. Most likely, if I do look bad, they're trying to make sure I'm okay.

"You look bad," Ms Ahn greeted me when I arrived at work this morning. "Are you sick? You look not good."

"No, I'm fine. I'm not sick. Don't worry." I replied. "Anyways, how are you? What did you do last night?"