25 September 2011

When ya gotta go...

I'll admit, my Korean is very limited. While people do understand me when I say simple things like, "Hello," "Goodbye," "Thank-you," and I was even able to tell the pharmacist that I needed cold medicine a couple of weeks ago, for some reason, I can't seem to get people to understand me when I need a toilet. Why does Korean have to be so bloody difficult to pronounce? Consider the Japanese word for toilet: >トイレ;(to-i-re) which is basically the word "toilet" with kana pronunciation. "Toire wa doko desu ka?" Easy peasy.

Normally, I just try to find a toilet and don't bother asking because the few times that I have, I simply get the blank stare. I always end up saying, "Toilet please," and it's all very embarrassing. Well, today I was at a shopping centre and I really needed to go, so decided to ask in Korean and got the funniest reaction so far. Instead of the blank stare, the shop assistant said, in English, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French," to which I replied, exasperated, "I'm not speaking French. I'm trying to speak Korean. Where is the toilet, please?" Hahahahahaha!
While we're on the topic, I should mention that it is common practice in Korea to not flush toilet paper! In public restrooms (including the ones at my school) there is usually a sign asking you not to flush toilet paper and there is a small bin beside the toilet bowl where you are supposed to dispose of your toilet paper. I don't get it. Also, don't tell anyone, but I don't follow this disgusting rule even though Koreans will tell you that the sewage system is different here and that a toilet will clog if you flush toilet paper down it. I didn't follow this rule when I lived here in 2008 and I don't follow it now and guess what? I've never clogged a toilet. Oh yes, and if you think I'm making this up, here's the proof: Korean Poopy Papers

Incidentally, the word for toilet in Korean is: 화장실 (hwa-jang-shil) and I dare you to try to pronounce it!