Korea 101: Vacation Plans

I love it when Koreans ask me “What are you doing for your vacation?” and act surprised when I tell them I don’t know yet. They always say, “Why don’t you know?” and I tell them I don’t know because nobody’s told me when the vacation is. I can’t plan something when I don’t know when it’ll happen. Surely, the Korean teachers know this. They’re in the dark just as much as I am about schedules and vacations, yet they act as though I’m supposed to have multi-page itineraries available on request. They always seem to know, but hell, I don’t. I’m not risking buying tickets for planes I may not board or hotels I may not stay in because of last minute changes in the schedule. Not only that, but it’s impossible to plan anything if the amount of vacation time isn’t known.

Every Korean school has a different scheme when it comes to vacations. No two schools are alike. Moreover, Korean culture generally runs on things happening at the last minute, so despite the semester ending next week, neither the summer camps nor my vacation has been sorted out as of yet. Part of why the vacation’s been sorted out comes from the forms not being written yet. Again, what’s the point of putting plans together in advance? It’s a waste of mental energy to spend time thinking about stuff that may or may not happen, especially stuff as trivial as vacations. Whether or not I go to Thailand, for example, is immaterial. Getting some time off at all carries more importance than getting on a plane. All I really want to know is when the rest time is coming. That’s all.

I’ve a theory—Koreans are kept in the dark about holidays and vacations to keep them from making plans. That way, the boss can force them to work during that time. He can say, “but you didn’t have anything planned, did you?” and force his underlings to go back to work…

Note: I understand that their asking about vacations probably amounts to making conversation, but still, when it’s asked with such frequency, it’s hard not to wonder.


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