Korea’s Subtle/Blunt Culture

There is a bluntness in Korea that still catches me off-guard from time to time. In some cases Koreans can skirt around the issue and in other cases nuance just isn’t a common practice. For example, your boss might let you know you are doing a bad job at work nonverbally by giving you a bad assignment or terrible desk placement (this is a thing). But your friends might tell you often that you are fat and need to lose weight immediately. Sometimes you have to be a mindreader, other times you have to have thick skin.

The soccer team played the part of the fat friend earlier this week when they returned home from Brazil. An angry fan threw yeot (pumpkin taffy) at the tired, utterly defeated Korean National Soccer team. I learned this week that having yeot thrown at you essentially means “you suck; get lost.” But there is more literal translation according to a Korean blogger and it isn’t subtle.

But the insult stirred up little reaction from the team, they seemed to take it on the chin. They were certainly aware that their performance would not garner them a welcoming reception home. A welcome party would probably have been more embarrassing.

So while my jaw drops a little bit at the insult hurled at the soccer players, I imagine an angry welcome home was what they expected. Because, well, they did suck a yeot in Brazil.