Chuseok Extra

Rachel recounted to her cousin as we were en route to the mulli fields how sometimes Korean men start using casual language* with me from the start which we both find incredibly rude and disrespectful.

I imagined the cousin going pale in the backseat— he had been using casual language with me from the start.

However, I barely noticed since I had presumptuously done the same. He was an easy person to be around so I never thought of it as assumptive like certain Seoul men.

I actually started using casual language with Rachel this week at her suggestion and it carried over when I met her cousin. I used casual language with both of them, which was probably incredibly rude of me since the cousin is older and a stranger, but Busan seems to operate on a more casual setting in general. As a result the three of us spoke in casual language from the start.

I switched back to polite language toward the end of the second day feeling embarrassed at my bad manners.

We pulled into a coffee shop later and while Rachel was in the bathroom, he asked me a question, then remembering our condemnation of bad manners, clumsily tacked on a “yo” in an afterthought. It’s something I’ve only seen in a drama and I laughed to myself then took pity on him.

“You can use casual language with me.”

The cousin is a nice person who is a lot like Rachel and I never perceived him as being presumptive. In fact, I appreciate his attempt to be polite after hearing about my bad experiences. We support good men. And manners.


*Korean has various speech levels which can read about here. In brief, casual language eschews all verb endings (요 yo is basic polite ending) and is the most informal level which is reserved for use between people of the same age or older to younger people. When meeting a stranger or in professional settings, one never starts with casual language and among new friends permission must be gained before “lowering” language.

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