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I was reminded how Koreans love to play even into their adulthood. I was out with the Asst Director and one of the Office Managers of one of the Academies to send off a coworker who recently quit in the right way. Well, it was sort of a last minute gathering in the first place, but it still started off like atypical company dinner. Basically, everyone gets together after work and for us, that means at the earliest 10:30p. We eat until about a little after midnight and then its Phase #2 for he night. We call it “ee chah” or in Hangul 이차. Usually you go for drinks on top of your usual several bottles of soju you had at dinner when celebrating almost anything. We ended up going to some Japanese pub like place with Japanese appetizers and drinks like Sake and version of “flavored soju” which doesn’t have much alcohol — for me. I don’t drink, but they agreed to go to a place like this so I can indulge just a little.
Tonight was an early night. Usually, you would got out for Phase #3, Phase #4 and even as many as Phase #5 and Phase #6 for the night or should I say until the wee hours of the morning? What do you people do in each of these phases? Well, they drink, of course and drink and drink. Sometimes they mix in a bit of singing at your Karaoke room and on some special occasions when everyone feels young, a visit to the night club is not unheard of. Typically though, in Korea, Nightclubs are attended by the younger and hip crowd. There are “older people” night clubs, but when you’re just on that border of older 20’s, mid 30’s, you try to find a club that will let you have fun with the 20 year olds. You don’t want to feel old…
Well, the two guys I went out with this night told me they just celebrated the Office Manager’s birthday the night before and went to phase 4 or 5 and didn’t get into home until about 7a. I asked them immediately, “Doesn’t that kill you?” And they acted as if it was just another normal event in life. The funny thing, it is just another night out with coworkers. Even companies that hold normal hours from like 9a to 6p party just this way with many times giving employees only hours and in some cases minutes to sleep and get ready for the next day. I thought to myself this night, they’re a little nuts. However, after I thought about it more, they live out “Carpe Diem” on a daily basis. At least if Koreans die the night of having fun or the morning after, they’ve at
least enjoyed it as much as they could. You might be able to may the case theyy would die happier than most who may live healthier, longer and more balanced lives. While the latter may feel better and potentially live more years, many times they may not even have “much fun” or a lot less of it. While I’m not encouraging this behavior and I’m not going to start practicing it as much as they do, but I now finally understand. It took me 10+ years to understand, but now I do.