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  • Aristocrat
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1949

    • November 10, 2014, 01:04:27 pm
You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« on: November 13, 2019, 12:23:59 pm »
When I started teaching, I appreciated the practice of taking one's shoes off and swapping them for indoor shoes before entering the school building. I bought my own pair of slippers because that's what everyone else wore.

This cultural practice was my introduction to the Korean art of 'pretense'.

While I trying to be as fastidious as I could with this practice, I noticed that I was somewhat in the minority. Quite often, students and teachers would trot outside in their slippers (too much of a hassle to change shoes). Many students would spend the entire lunch period on their dirt soccer pitch, wearing their slippers, only to walk back inside with those same shoes. Whenever a large group of teachers or students went outside/inside, the practice was always observed (when others were watching you).

Other than giving women the chance to remove uncomfortable stilettos during their working hours, I see it as nothing but an inconvenience.

My Korean school's floors are dirtier than my school's floors back home, aided in no small way by the daily skill of using a mop to convert a dirty floor into a dirty, wet floor.

I know cultural practices take time to evolve or disappear, but I'd just thought I'd chip in my 50 won that the practice has become a ridiculous pretense.


  • fka
  • Veteran

    • 148

    • September 05, 2019, 06:37:44 pm
    • Seoul
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2019, 12:44:37 pm »
I've only ever seen the shoe thing enforced strictly, so I suspect this is a case of the people in charge letting standards slip, and everyone following suit. That happens everywhere but it's a particularly noticeable phenomenon in Korea - once something happens a couple times, it becomes a social norm. The random litter piles and unofficial smoking areas are a good example. Someone drops a cigarette packet on Corner A and within minutes the spot acts as a magnet for coffee cups, soju bottles, food wrappers and a half-eaten apple. Nobody tosses their trash at Corner B, though, because that would constitute littering. 



  • leaponover
  • Expert Waygook

    • 555

    • March 05, 2012, 12:08:16 pm
    • Iksan, S. Korea
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2019, 12:53:04 pm »
I too never saw the shoe thing not enforced at my school.  They were very strict with taking your shoes off and the kids just wore socks in the classrooms.  Think you are the outlier on this one.


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 1499

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2019, 12:56:20 pm »
Floors here are much cleaner than back home. A lot of cultural pressure for it.

Tables, however... a guest comes to their home and they are unfazed by crumbs on the table. Back home the pressure is to clean your table when guests are coming.

Each has something to teach the other.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 12:58:04 pm by VanIslander »


  • zola
  • The Legend

    • 2874

    • September 30, 2012, 06:56:11 am
    • Korea
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2019, 01:48:13 pm »
Thankfully we dont take shoes off where i work. But I agree with the mopping thing. I always know when my room has been mopped as it smells like dead animal. I've seen the cleaner use the same stank mop for the toilets, toilet bowls, walls, hand basins and general floors. All without a drop of cleaning product.
Kpip! - Martin 2018


  • Mister Tim
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1580

    • September 08, 2013, 10:33:54 am
    • SK
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2019, 02:23:08 pm »
If Aristocrat is an outlier on this, than so am I. At most of the schools I've taught at here (nine, so far), everyone changes their outdoor shoes for their indoor slippers at the start of the day, keeps them on whether or not they're going outside throughout the day, then changes back into their outdoor shoes at the end of the day.

At schools where the cafeteria was in a separate building across a courtyard:  slippers.
At school assemblies outside in the dirt lot:  slippers.
Lunch break playing outside with their friends:  slippers.
Going out for lunchtime hweshiks with coworkers:  slippers.

My current school's floors are also of the "given a haphazard once-over with a dirty mop" variety. I'm kinda jealous of you people talking about how clean your floors are.

Overall, though, I suppose I'm kinda "whatever" about it. There are plenty of things that get under my skin here, but wearing indoor shoes outdoors only gets a "well that's a bit silly" out of me.


  • smpj4606
  • Newgookin

    • 2

    • December 31, 2012, 02:12:32 pm
    • Gunpo-si, Gyeonggi-do
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2019, 02:35:01 pm »
I read this and felt like it was coming from my own head! Just yesterday I saw the janitor mopping (just wetting...let's be real) the floors YET AGAIN and I said out loud "WHAT is she mopping though?" I see people walking in and out with just slippers, so I've come to do it too ~ I've been in Korea almost 8 years and this was the first time I was honestly surprised to not be stared at for not changing my shoes.  It all depends on the school culture I suppose.

I sure am tired of seeing puddles of water left by what was considered a "clean" mop ~ I'll wear my shoes and clean my own classroom floor thanks ;)


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2019, 02:48:07 pm »
If Aristocrat is an outlier on this, than so am I. At most of the schools I've taught at here (nine, so far), everyone changes their outdoor shoes for their indoor slippers at the start of the day, keeps them on whether or not they're going outside throughout the day, then changes back into their outdoor shoes at the end of the day.

At schools where the cafeteria was in a separate building across a courtyard:  slippers.
At school assemblies outside in the dirt lot:  slippers.
Lunch break playing outside with their friends:  slippers.
Going out for lunchtime hweshiks with coworkers:  slippers.
This has been my experience as well. In four years, I've never seen a student/teacher change their slippers for shoes except when going home.


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2019, 02:57:26 pm »
I too see the slipper usage outside and the dirty mops/no cleaning products at all. No cleaning products on the floors...I'll deal..but when they are not used to clean bathrooms....that I cannot understand at all and knowing that there is a good chance hospitals etc are like that scares me. My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw. Back to the mop discussion though, I find it strange that mops would (at least in the schools I have taught at ) be stored outside in all types of weather...rain, dust, snow etc would get on the mops that were then used to clean inside.


  • CO2
  • The Legend

    • 4855

    • March 02, 2015, 03:41:14 pm
    • Gunpo
    more
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2019, 03:10:06 pm »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.

Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.
The joys of fauxtherhood


  • AMDC
  • Veteran

    • 103

    • April 19, 2018, 08:00:49 am
    • South Korea
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2019, 03:10:47 pm »
+1 for team shoe

slippers are worn inside+outside and only changed to go home at my school as well, so it's a useless tradition here too

P.S. the classes/hallways/bathrooms being 'cleaned' with the same damp, unwashed mop and no cleaning product is wild


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2019, 03:41:12 pm »
On the plus side the lack of cleaning agents is probably good for building up immune systems and not oversanitizing kids.

On the negative, the passing out of antibiotics like candy corn leads to superbugs. This completely negates any benefits.


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2019, 03:48:25 pm »
On the negative, the passing out of antibiotics like candy corn leads to superbugs. This completely negates any benefits.
How dare you say something remotely negative about Korea! :P


  • zola
  • The Legend

    • 2874

    • September 30, 2012, 06:56:11 am
    • Korea
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2019, 03:49:01 pm »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.

Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.

Just stick it on the tray on the public reception desk. No worries about cross contamination or spilled piss.
Kpip! - Martin 2018


  • lhelena
  • Veteran

    • 129

    • March 11, 2018, 01:57:14 pm
    • Anseong
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2019, 08:07:03 am »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.

Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.

Just stick it on the tray on the public reception desk. No worries about cross contamination or spilled piss.

My friend and I went for our medical checks at the same time in January and when the nurse went to do my friend's blood-work she dropped the needle on the floor, picked it up and was about to use it anyway until my friend yelled at her. They don't wear gloves or even wash their hands between patients, it's absolutely foul. Not to mention they were rude as hell even though my husband came along to help translate the forms for us if we needed it.


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2019, 08:12:01 am »
You've got the Korean classics; disposable coffee cups used for urine samples, blood drawn with no gloves on etc but I'll never forget being in a clinic getting an injection and seeing a tatty old cardboard box in the corner of the room filled with used needles and bloody cotton swabs  :-[


  • fka
  • Veteran

    • 148

    • September 05, 2019, 06:37:44 pm
    • Seoul
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2019, 09:52:29 am »
Ha, I never knew the dirty mop thing was such a widespread phenomenon. I only have a couple experiences with it, but they are foul indeed. The cleaner at my old apartment building used to smear the inside of the elevators with her filthy mop twice a week, and since it was totally unventilated, the damp, dirty smell would fester in the place all day. There was a bathroom on the ground floor for the building's restaurants, and it wouldn't surprise me if she ran the mop around the floor there first, then wiped it all over the elevator.

Speaking of which...

A couple weeks ago I was with a female friend and we went into a four-star hotel to use the lobby bathroom (a pleasant alternative to the subway station, or so we thought). She came out looking a bit disgusted and said that she'd seen the cleaner mop the floor in all the cubicles, then hold the mop aloft, dripping water across the floor, before wiping it on the washbasin surface and in all the sinks. 


Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2019, 09:56:30 am »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.

Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.

Just stick it on the tray on the public reception desk. No worries about cross contamination or spilled piss.

Great for the old clean sample switcheroo from your coat pocket though. I've thought about how easy that would be here many times. Instead of a kimchi fridge I've got a fridge full of piss.
Who is here in 2019?


  • kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 5386

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2019, 11:41:15 am »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.
Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.

I did my EPIK orientation in the big university in Jeonju, near the end of February. We did our medical screening, and we were also obliged to wander around the big lobby area with our urine sloshing around in paper cups.
   However, what made our experience extra special was that the university had apparently muddled up its scheduling, and the lobby area was also filled with graduating students and their families.

  So imagine: hordes of Westerners trying to delicately maneuver around teeming throngs of extremely well dressed Korean families with cups brimming with pee. I was very proud of myself for leaking only a wee bit on their tux when bumped by someone backing up to take a photo. I thought to myself "Urine for it now! They're gonna be pissed!", but Iuckily they hadn't noticed. So in loo of an apology, I smiled for the picture, and whizzed on by.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 11:43:15 am by kyndo »


  • Aristocrat
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1949

    • November 10, 2014, 01:04:27 pm
Re: You might as well keep your damn shoes on
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2019, 12:00:52 pm »
My first medical exam in Korea I almost had my mouth drop wide open in surprise at what I saw.
Can't find a nurse? Here, just walk around aimlessly with an open container of piss in your hand.

I did my EPIK orientation in the big university in Jeonju, near the end of February. We did our medical screening, and we were also obliged to wander around the big lobby area with our urine sloshing around in paper cups.
   However, what made our experience extra special was that the university had apparently muddled up its scheduling, and the lobby area was also filled with graduating students and their families.

  So imagine: hordes of Westerners trying to delicately maneuver around teeming throngs of extremely well dressed Korean families with cups brimming with pee. I was very proud of myself for leaking only a wee bit on their tux when bumped by someone backing up to take a photo. I thought to myself "Urine for it now! They're gonna be pissed!", but Iuckily they hadn't noticed. So in loo of an apology, I smiled for the picture, and whizzed on by.

URINARA