Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Answer to All of Korea's Problems

There are no living rooms in Korea. This was one of my first observations upon reaching Korea—right after noting how little space an apartment has and how rare it is to find a couch in them as well, relegating seating options to either someone else’s bed or their floor.

These days, between communication and transportation technology, people are able and expected to isolate themselves as never before. (Bloggin’ bout my generation!) In Korea it’s even worse. First, city life is often, by necessity, more isolating than the town life that many of us Americans are used to. Then combine the normal city practice of keeping to oneself with the language barrier and it’s double isolation.

Plus, for many of us, this is the first time we’ve ever come home to empty (elevator-sized) apartments after an entire day without hearing any English spoken by anyone but ourselves. There’s no family to visit. Varied locations and work times make hanging out with friends into one of those old logic puzzles we did in summer school GT classes. Sometimes it’s like open-house hours in Calvin’s dorms again: we have to finish the movie by 11:00 because we have to catch the last subway or bus back home.

But I have the answer. I know what will fix Korea’s problems: couches.[1]

This is the kind of awesomeness you never see in Korea.
Back when I was in high school, my church youth group met in “the couch room.” It is, exactly as the name implies, awesome. Also, an attic room that you had to climb the steepest stairs to enter the circle of couches—fat, skinny, squishy, hard, all in varying states of dilapidation. Couches are comfortable the way nothing is in Korea. In a room full of couches you can sit slouching or with your knees pulled up to your chest. Cross-legged works, but so does Indian-style or side-saddle. Couches, by definition, force you to be too comfortable.

Puppy knows what I'm talking about.
Couches are very American that way. They are very communal pieces of furniture: inviting and equalizing. Sitting on the floor is humbling and probably good for you (develops character and keeps your knees spry?), but in matters of hospitality, patting the floor-space next to you doesn’t even compare to budging up, scooting over and patting the comfy cushion of a top-notch couch.

[1] You taking notes, ambassadors to North Korea? I got your back!

1 comment:

  1. Couches could set the scene, especially if there were no other place for the uninitiated to place themselves :)