Culture Shot: Pepero Day

If you thought Valentine’s Day was a farce of a commercial holiday, then Korea will once again prove your Western assumptions wrong. Ladies and Gents, I present to you Pepero Day.

Pepero Day is the celebration of a Korean snack food of the same name. These snacks are bread sticks dipped in candy and come in a variety of flavors. They do not sound altogether appetizing, but let me tell you, I managed to put away a sizable amount yesterday…

Pepero

These gifts came from my friends at Muay Thai. One guy even made the ones in the cellophane!

As Valentine’s Day has it’s roots in a celebration of a saint, it’s hard to criticize Hallmark et al. for cashing in on it’s Capitalist potential. Pepero Day on the other hand, has no such origin. Instead, it comes from a 1983 news story, in which two school girls exchanged Pepero in order to become tall and thin like the Pepero sticks. These superstitious, and wildly misguided, girls exchanged these gifts on November 11th, the date that looks most like Pepero sticks. To a simple reasoning, or a homeopath, this logic is sound and the trick should work. Sadly, it doesn’t. I woke this morning at the familiar 5′ 8.5″ (that half is very important to me), and I believe I may have even gained weight in the night!

From Christal

One student even took the time to personalize the box!

I digress, however. So seeing that this could be turned into an incredibly marketable phenomenon, the parent company had the day enshrined in the commercial calendar. Now, you can buy Pepero everything, from gift-sets to plush toys. According to Wikipedia the Pepero company make 50% of their annual sales on this day! Not that the same isn’t true for florists and their ilk back home on V-Day I’m sure.

As you can see in the pictures, everyone gets some Pepero on this day, from friends, form teachers, from students. It’s all very cute, which makes it even more Korean, as almost everything here is either cute or for couples, or in this case both!

So now you know folks, the rest of the world also have holidays as outrageous as Valentine’s Day! Gooooooooo Capitalism!!!!

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The Weekend on Wednesday

Halfway there folks, it’s finally Wednesday! Although, that said, it’s also already Wednesday and it’s taken me until now to get myself in gear to post the pictures from last weekend’s adventure.

Having had a lazy Saturday going to the “pictures”, as they say in dear old Ireland, to see Gone Girl, we decided to use Sunday to visit the Children’s park for the first time, as we mistook the Citizen’s park for it last time (here’s the scoop on that).

Front Gate

“Reports show Rubik’s Cubes, Hello Kitty, Pooh Bear and Disney are among the best-selling toys. Which should we use in the statue ma’am?” “Yes!”

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Culture Shot: Sidewalk Sharpshooters

“Don’t mess with me boys”

Yes, you read that right, Korea has sharpshooters on every sidewalk. It’s one of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make to living here, because it’s not a problem back home…well, at least not to the same extent.

No, I’m not talking about soldiers with sniper rifles on every corner, in case you hadn’t guessed; that was hyperbole. These guys and gals, let’s not forget the gals, have a much more appalling weapon of choice: phlegm.

As you walk down the street at any time of day or night you can hear the priming of a weapon, a throaty sound, guttural and hacking, like someone speaking Slavic with a sore throat, and you know it’s coming. You feel the fear bunch your shoulders and the unease tighten your stomach, desperately listening for the puwhtuh as the projectile flies from its barrel, so you can check for any casualties.

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