New generation of Koreans not learning Korean squat

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Photo credit: Sarai

"It's a little embarassing," says one mother, who asked to remain anonymous. Her 5 year old boy, identified only by his English nickname Speedy, has yet to learn the 'Korean squat'. While people around the world squat on their toes, Korean squats leave the full foot on the ground, with knees spread out further to maintain balance.

"It's not the end of the world, but his friends are beginning to make fun of him," the mother continued. "As soon as one of his schoolmates realized he couldn't do it, my son got made fun of every time he tried to do it."

The Korean government has apparently been aware of the issue for some time. According to a recent survey done by The Department of Old Korean Traditions and Making People Eat Kimchi, about 65% of Korean parents had "no plans" to teach the Korean squat to their children. The most common reasons mentioned were lack of time, lack of interest, and how "it's not a Western thing".

Kim Gun Sid, the head researcher for the survey, mentioned that "the problem actually started almost 20 years ago, when parents stopped teaching the Korean squat to their kids. It just wasn't as important as learning English or eating all 157 varieties of kimchi. More recently, Korean parents have been emphasizing 'Dokdo is Ours', which leaves even less time to master this basic Korean habit."

Thankfully, at least one person has not allowed the traditional habit to be forgotten. Lee Guk Su, a retired physical education teacher, has started the nation's first squatting hagwon (private school) in Apgujeong. Lee explains that "most rich kids have been so busy learning English and sitting in a classroom chair that they don't have time to squat or play outside. Also, no traditional squat toilets exist in the newer or renovated buildings. At least once a month, we will take our students up to Dongdaemun to learn from the professionals - ajosshi who spend their days playing games and selling cheap stuff."

When this reporter asked how sitting in a classroom will help them learn to do a Korean squat, Lee scoffed. "You can learn to do anything by seeing it and watching it done by someone else! That's part of our traditional educational system!" He hopes to open a second branch in Gangnam, where even more affluent parents live, and sell franchise rights to other businessmen. He's also considered holding English-language classes, but he's had a difficult time finding native English teachers who can do the Korean squat.

This is satire. The Korean squat, while not in danger of going away, is still hard for some Westerners to do.

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Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2010

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.



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