InterrogAsian: What's the Deal with Koreans and Pajamas, Asians and Plastic Wrap?

Hyphen’s sensei of sensibility answers your questions about Asian culture.

April 16, 2010

(Illustration by Jonathan Hill)

Dear InterrogAsian,

Why do Koreans always change into their pajamas right when they get home from work?

— Business Casual Advocate 

Koreans are a hearty people — hard-working, hard-playing, hard-drinking, hard-sleeping. They’ve earned the right to slip into something more comfortable upon returning from a long day of threshing rice in the fields.

But why do so many Koreans crave the feeling of flannel, microfiber and bunny slippers against their Tiger Balmed skin? Walking through the door and changing straight into pajamas appeals to a Korean’s innate sense of time management. With no commitments for the rest of the night, you can jump into those sweats and curl up with a Boys Over Flowers marathon. Makes me jealous. Now, the real question should be, why aren’t you working as hard as Koreans?

Dear InterrogAsian,

Why do Asians wrap their remotes in plastic? I’ve seen it at many homes and I still don’t understand exactly what kind of protection it offers.

— Curious Houseguest 

There is no simple answer, but it does involve Asian soap operas. Some of those actors are so hot that plastic wrap keeps the fun clean and safe.

But people: Knock that shit off. It looks stupid. It makes changing channels awkward. And it’s probably not any cleaner since germs and bacteria get caught in the folds of the plastic (God help the ones who wrap it in foil). And being a complete germophobe isn’t a nice message to send when you have people over.

If you came to this country to live the dream and want to be treated equally, start by taking the plastic wrap off the remote — and the couch and the lampshade while you’re at it. Your guests will thank you for it.

A follow-up to an earlier question:

Why do Asians drink water without ice?

Since this question was first posed to me, I’ve learned there are two different theories behind this aversion to ice. One theory is that ice water affects the chi, one’s inner balance. Chinese folks historically became known as pillars of health because for centuries they boiled their water to make tea. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of tea after dim sum? Yet on the same Lazy Susan sits tea’s arch-nemesis: ice water. Ice water jars the innards, paving the way for sloth, indigestion, bad test scores and interracial dating. Bad ice water.

The second theory is that consuming ice water during a typically greasy meal allows oils to solidify, which slows digestion. The oil then gets absorbed by the large intestine, turns into fat and then — the inevitable heart attack. I know which theory I’m standing by and which was submitted by a panicked mother who read something on the Internet. 


Don’t know Kim Yu-Na from Summoner Yuna? Send your questions about Asian culture to interrogasian [at]


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