Sunday, August 5, 2012


I've mentioned in an earlier post the phrase 'skinship' which is used here in Korea. Skinship is basically just touching another person.  It's used frequently with couples, but it can also simply mean touching someones arm.

In Korea there is no such thing as personal space.  In fact, Koreans have to actually be taught about personal space in schools when it comes to other countries.  This isn't to say that any Korean will come up and just touch you! It just means that if two Koreans are close enough friends with one another, then they can be very affectionate with their friends.  The best example would be holding hands.  If two girls walk down the street holding hands, it just means they are good friends, that's it.  There is no homosexuality implied. 

With men, it varies depending on age and the action taken. Holding hands isn't common until they either turn 50, or they are drunk.  If they are drunk they are very clingy to one another.  But, skinship manifests itself in other ways with men.  They touch eachother's knees a lot i've noticed, no matter what the age is.

When it comes to my middle school students, there seems to be no boundary.  They sit in eachother's laps all the time, or sit right behind one another.  When it comes to school assemblies, they all sit in rows on the floor and the boys will frequently lean their heads on the person in front of them's back.  (this is rather cute actually) I had one incident where several boys were ganging up on another and actually kissing his cheeks to tease him, he was flipping out but laughing at the same time.

They seem well aware of the connotation this has, as they will often joke to me about how 'gay' they are acting, but its very lighthearted and it doesn't stop their actions. If they are called gay for acting very touchy, they laugh it off, while in America they'd immediately stop and be embarrassed.

Its very interesting and you find that the more you absorb yourself into the culture, the more you start acting like the Koreans. With my korean friends I now have no problem holding their hand or entertwining arms. However, I definitely don't do this with my western friends!


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