To bow or not to bow


A random post for this week…. these are not all my words but the sentiment and indecision is certainly mine.

In Korea, when you meet people, even in passing you should 인사 (insa: greet) them and bow. Not like, a colonial-style hand-in-the-front-and-knees-bent–type bow, nor is it a complete 90 degree plank (well, unless it’s a more formal occasion than a passing by in the school corridor), but nodding your head and a little bit of movement at your waist is generally fine.

You see, what makes this so awkward is that I’m the youngest teacher at my school, which means that I should greet people first when I see them. Now, this isn’t always the case, and some teachers will  greet me first (probably out of pity), but for the rest it’s like an awkward game of bowing chicken.

When do I bow?-Where do I put my eyes?-We’re the only people in this hallway, is it rude to not make eye contact?-Is it rude to MAKE eye contact?-Oh god it’s like I’m staring her down.-Look away LOOK AWAY.-Oh no, now that teacher probably thinks that I’m being rude and not acknowledging her presence.-Look back.-Smile.-What an idiot she can’t see you smile from here.-Stop smiling.-Oh wait, you can see her mouth so she can see yours, so she just saw you stop smiling and look awkward.-Okay okay okay I’m just going to do it.


I should’ve waited, we’ve still got like half this hallway to go.-When I pass her do I bow again?-What on earth is the etiquette for hallway bowing?- Ooh here we go, aaaaand we’re passing.

Why did I do that?-Why did I do anything?-That was so awkward.-THAT WAS SO AWKWARD.-Well, at least I’m done-Oh.-Here comes another teacher.

AND repeat.


So what do you think?

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