Dear kfangurl: What is up with all the 2nd & 3rd rounds in Korean gatherings?

Bonding over drinks. 🍻

In my recent final Open Thread for Secret Love Affair, I’d mentioned in a comment, the Korean penchant for second and even third rounds, when doing gatherings.

In response, Beez said:

“That’s a good question for Dear kfangurl. Why? I understand when they want to go to a karaoke bar but other than that – why leave one bar just to go for rounds at another? Do they have different types of drinks at one establishment from another? (I’ve never been much of a drinker but in my limited experience, I’ve never had a bartender tell me they don’t have whatever I ordered.)”

Somebody wants to go for another round. 😅

Dear Beez,

Thanks for your question!

I’ll do my best to provide some context and clarity, but as you guys know, I’m not actually Korean, and so there might be nuances that I’ve missed.

As always, everyone, do feel free to share your thoughts, insights and perspectives in the comments below!

PS: For those who are wondering, I’m using screenshots from Misaeng for this post, because it’s such an iconic workplace drama.

The general culture around hoesik (회식)

It’s all about bonding, baby!

회식 (hoesik; literally, gathering to eat) is part of Korean work culture. In effect, people are expected to participate in hoesik, as part of the job, even though the hoesiks take place outside of office hours.

While the situation in the last SLA Open Thread isn’t exactly the same as the typical hoesik, or workplace gatherings, that I’ll be using as the basis of our discussion, it still qualifies as a workplace gathering, because the scenario in question, was a farewell party among colleagues.

From what I understand, relationship building is considered a very important part of Korean work culture, and a lot of that relationship building takes place after office hours, during hoesik gatherings.

This is not limited to gatherings among colleagues; this also extends to gatherings with clients, potential clients &/or potential business partners. It is considered impolite not to participate in such events, because this is where a lot of the relationship building takes place.

Yes, it’s impolite to say, “no.”

Typically, a three-round gathering would consist of:

Round 1: Dinner

Round 2: Drinks (typically alcoholic)

Round 3: Noraebang (also known as karaoke)

The entire purpose of the hoesik, is to build relationships among the participants, and make the bonds between them stronger than if they only strictly interacted at the workplace.

It’s basically a way to take the relationship out of the workplace, and establish more familiar bonds through the experience of eating together, drinking together, and letting their hair down, together.

Eating together is the first step away from the office, and there’s a sense of familiarity that comes from sharing meals with one another.

Because it’s the norm to concentrate more on the food while eating, a second round involving drinks, where people can talk over beer, soju or other beverage, is a natural extension of the gathering. Plus, in Korea, there’s the generally held belief, that drinking together, brings people closer to one another.

Someone’s letting his hair down..! 😅

Drinking together also helps people to loosen up and speak more freely with one another. This is particularly helpful for more reserved types, who might be bolder to show their chattier side, with a bit of liquid courage.

Koreans also tend to love singing, and therefore the noraebang seems like a logical choice for a third round, because “it’s too early to say goodbye.” Drinking and singing together can also be seen as a way for people to relieve the stress that’s accumulated from work.

Generally speaking, saying goodbye after just having a meal together, is considered “too soon.” That said, people don’t always go for a third round, so it’s entirely possible for a hoesik to end after the second round.

All that to say, the second and third round is part of hoesik culture. People don’t go to a second place because the first place didn’t have the type of drink they wanted. They go to a second (or third) place because it’s too soon to say goodbye, whether that’s decided by the group at large, or the most senior person in attendance.

IN CLOSING

I hope this post offers you at least a measure of clarity around hoesiks, and the culture around second and third rounds, in Korean gatherings.

Like I mentioned earlier, if you guys have insights, perspectives or other thoughts to add, please share them in the comments!

Thanks, everyone.

Smooches. ❤️

~kfangurl

..And then there’s bonding the next day, because you’re all hungover together..! 😝

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!

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Elaine Phua
Elaine Phua
9 months ago

I thought of a question! Not just for you, kfangirl, but a sort of survey for everyone who reads this blog I guess – have you ever felt attracted to visit South Korea due to K dramas, and what was it like when you actually went? Just thought of this as someone I know is visiting Korea now (I don’t know if she’s a K drama fan or not). Even though I have enjoyed many K dramas, somehow I don’t feel that urge to visit Korea. I’m more interested to visit Japan for the fall colours and cherry blossoms, and natural scenery in Hokkaido. Interestingly, Someday or One Day made me want to visit Taiwan to see the coasts and natural scenery too! But not Korea…? Haha. Maybe cos my priority when traveling is to see natural scenery, not cities, and most of the South Korea dramas except It’s Okay to Not Be Okay have focused on Seoul or other city settings.

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
9 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I’ve visited before and liked it but didn’t enjoy it as much as I should until I got into kdramas and realized I know some of the places that are featured in the shows. And now I wish to visit “properly.” Elaine, if you want non-city series, I suggest Jirisan (the lush lush mountains) and House on Wheels. Chuno has lovely sceneries too.

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

Too hot! Too cold! 😆 When I see the behind the scenes and the actors’ assistants are standing by with small fans to cool them off between scenes; and in the winter they’re standing by with those Triple Fat Goose down coats (the Michelin Man style coats) in between scenes and if you watch closely, even indoors sometimes, the actors’ breath is blowing steam because it’s so cold. Love the culture but not the weather!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

@Elaine – I have always wanted to travel, especially to Italy and China. If I were to go to SK I would want to go to the countryside as well. My ex was stationed in SK (Air Force) at Kunsan and he said it was the coldest place he had ever been. Maybe because it is surrounded by water?

I think someone here mentioned a SK planned hiking vacation package where you hike in different areas? I cannot remember where I saw the thread! Jeju Island looks beautiful in all the dramas.

Japan sounds lovely! To inspire you I am attaching an actual mountain retreat in the mountains in Hokkaido.

Mountain Retreat in Hokkaido Mountains.jpg
j3ffc
j3ffc
9 months ago
Reply to  Elaine Phua

I would love to see SK, and if I ever had the chance to go I’d definitely try to get to Jeju, as it is gorgeous, as phl1rxd noted. My wife is not keen to go, though, so I’m not sure I’ll ever make it. We have been to Japan a couple of times and to China twice (we live in the US), and I do love Japan, especially Kyoto and some of the less traveled areas. Besides the shows that Jiyuu mentioned, another beautiful and easy to watch travel show is Netflix’s “Twogether”, which stars Lee Seung-gi and Jasper Liu (from Taiwan) in an Amazing Race sort of set up. The guys are charismatic and there is a lot of fun with the language barrier as well some stunning scenery.

Kay
Kay
9 months ago

Very interesting! I had always wondered about some of the finer details behind this tradition we see so much. Great question and answer 🙂

Gloglo
Gloglo
9 months ago

In my home country Spain drinking with colleagues after college or work is pretty common. People in Spain do tend to socialise and create close-ish relationships with people at work (at least that was the norm when I used to live there 30 years ago). Spain is indeed a culture where community, let it be of neighbours, school friends and work friends, is very important (or has traditionally been that way).

In Ireland where I live now there is more of a Northern European attitude in the workplace, that is, relationships are more distant and respectful, in general, even though Ireland id a country where going for a drink is not a matter for the faint hearted 😅…

I personally prefer the more detached respectful relationships with my colleagues. In Spain I often felt that people were living in each other’s pockets and you would be judged if you were a little bit distant or introverted 😯

beez
9 months ago

I’m usually considered a bit of a Koreaboo (sans wanting surgery or wanting to move to S.K. (too hot/too cold)) but the idea of forced team building gives me the willies. I never even wanted to attend the work Christmas parties! (I managed to find a way to avoid these drunken soirees where everyone had gossip on the following Monday of who went upstairs to hotel rooms (where the party was held).

Of course, I’ve made good, good friends at work over the years, but that was on my own verrrry slooooow terms.

When I think of how often in Kdramas these events seem to occur and when the boss is an alcoholic and wants to go after work every night… *shivers*

reaper
reaper
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

Surgery really? Dams that sounds interesting.

But yes work gatherings are just ufffffff :O

Gloglo
Gloglo
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

I get you been, I’m the same. I’ll build a relationship over time. A night of drinking is not going to do it. People when they are drunk make promises they never live up to and it’s annoying… that’s my experience anyway.

Gloglo
Gloglo
9 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

Sorry, I meant beez! My editing button doesn’t work for some reason 😅

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

I knew you meant me 😊

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  Gloglo

@Gloglo – and most people are sloppy drunks!

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – you always ask the best questions. 😉 I have always wondered if they were for real. Now I know.

I am also glad I do not drive a taxi and have to pick these folks up after they drank and ate too much. You would need a cleaning service. 🤮

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– hence my dislike

Not really a spoiler but just in case
of the girl who throws up on the stairs every night. The least she could do is clean it up the navy morning instead of leaving it for someone else to do!

reaper
reaper
9 months ago

Usually they drink a lot in all three rounds. In lots of occasions a lot of people are already drunk after the first round (Dinner).

To me it is the same in germany. Just trying to have an infinte amount of reasons to get drunk. Has nothing to do with tradition anymore. For example carneval in Germany was once tradition. Now it is only a reason to get drunk.

I always think if you need alcohol to have fun. You are not my type of person. Usually people don’t get funnier or more open while drunk they just get more stupid and the level of humor lower :DDDD

But maybe I just see it like that because I am anti alcohol 😀

reaper
reaper
9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

True it is like their one reason to live. :DDD

CarpControl
CarpControl
9 months ago
Reply to  reaper

Their alcohol-capacity is stuff of envy. I would die of cirrhosis in a month if I even attempted! xD

Shahz
Shahz
9 months ago

What a great question and detailed response. Really enjoy just getting to grips with the culture a little more.

CarpControl
CarpControl
9 months ago

Wow, what a fun little work-tradition! I was cognizant of a concept like this existing in Korea, but never looked much into it. Thanks for familiarizing us with this nugget of cultural info, KFG!!

I never made too big out of a hoesik, because I grew up with my Aunt reveling herself with her office-team on Friday nights where they would visit 1. a snacks & alcohol place, 2. an entrée place, and finally 3. a sweets & desserts-place, all in the span of a single night. They were a bunch of foodies, and could accommodate a larger group of people’s tastes in just one outing! 🙂
I wish more people would do this 3-rounds thing, sounds fun! And I wish we had a Noraebang in our country! 😍

CarpControl
CarpControl
9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

Hehe, I’m in for fun-times, though I cannot work Over-time without extra pay. I hate the sound of it. I wonder how East-Asians do it day-in, and day-out. Esp Koreans and the Japanese. Sounds very toxic and thankless! :'( :'(

Anu
Anu
9 months ago

Thank you! This was insightful and fascinating, and yes, I too loved Misaeng for its insights in to workplace culture in Korea.
Another thing I’m curious about is the hangover soup… would love to get the recipe 😋.

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  Anu

I’d like the recipe to seaweed soup!

Leslie
Leslie
9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

I can vouch for Maangchi’s seaweed soup! It’s the recipe I made this weekend for my friend’s birthday. See KFG’s 9th Anniversary post. 😂

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@Fangurl – I love that you posted these two links. I get excited every time I get my monthly Maangchi email. I love how she is so clean while preparing meals. I have her 1st cookbook as well. She is a little doll. Reading Leslie’s comment I will now have to attempt to make the seaweed soup.

I also love this quick fried chicken recipe at Aaron and Claire. He includes a sauce recipe with it that I have to double because we all love it so much – a favorite in my house. I am very lucky to have a huge HMart in walking distance down the street.

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

@phlrxd – I’ve been wondering for a while where do you live? (You can just ignore this if it makes you uncomfortable to announce it on the interwebs 😉)

But the fact that I thought Hmart stores were located only in Asia and only available online for us westerners made my curiosity flare up until I can’t resist asking.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I was born in the city which is home to Boyz II Men, Wawas, Rocky, Philly Bop (perfect to dance to SHINee’s ‘View’ or Earth Wind & Fire’s ‘September’ or the Whispers’ ‘Rock Steady’ e.g.), Cheese Steaks and the ‘Jawn’. As a child I lived in South Philly, then West Philly, then the burbs. In the burbs now.

There are HMarts all over the US but not in your state. Wonder why? I am super lucky. There 4 in total in my state and all are real close to me. My HMart has a dining area where the ahjummas cook and sell meals all day long. It also has a lot of Hispanic foods as well which is great as I cook a lot of Puerto Rican meals.

We are all connected and food (and the arts) bring us together. At my house you never know what country will be represented on the dinner table. My family is very diverse.

Last edited 9 months ago by phl1rxd
beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– I should have known – diverse – based on your ability to see all sides of a situation. 👍

As for Hmart, my assumption that they were only online in the West means I never checked – duh! Apparently there was one 69 miles from my home but it’s permanently closed now.

I would see their ads on YouTube and go to their web site and look around and never once thought that they might have a store that I could visit.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – You can order a lot of ingredients on Amazon. You just have to check the volume of product in the description because you cannot hold the package in your hand. Boo on that HMart closing!

Yes, we are crazy diverse – Italian (1st gen), German (1st gen), throw in some Cherokee and add relationships/marriages to Puerto Rican (1st gen), Lithuanian (1st gen), African American, Israeli and Dominican (1st gen) and that is just my close family. Whew! I left out the potential future nephew-in-law from Egypt as my niece broke up with him 😢 😪 (but not before I learned a few Arabic word and got some recipes). Add Korean, Chinese and Trinidadian friends. My mother could speak English and Italian fluently and could get by in German and French and my father could speak English, German and Russian fluently. I still need to switch my brain over to speak Spanish and I understand Italian but do not speak it well. It is the United Nations up in here Miz B!

Last edited 9 months ago by phl1rxd
beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

A Benneton ad! 😆

Hey! What happened to my WP avatar????

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

I fixed it. I have no idea why the option to show it was changed. I never enter into my own WP page.

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

@kfg – Awesome! Thanks kfg. Now my only hope is that the video is truly step by step. I’ve bought dried seaweed before but I wasn’t sure if I’m supposed to wash it, soak it, or just cook it as is (but it smells fishy like the ocean so I didn’t want to just cook it but I wasn’t sure it could stand up to washing). I ended up finally throwing it away while moving. And then on Healer, Jung hu says to Uncle/Teacher “aren’t we supposed to wash it first?” but it was obvious that neither of them knew what they were doing so… 😆

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – I am going to try it tomorrow. I have made the bone broth soup but not the seaweed soup. If you make it let me know how it came out.

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

– I’m so happy that the YouTuber goes into such detail (she doesn’t assume that I know to rinse off the seaweed. 😆) I’m so glad she offered an alternative to the fish sauce.

It will be a while before I get to an Asian market. I have to drive to another city and right now, I’ve been too busy to even get to my local grocery store. But I’ll definitely be making it – first with what she’s shown and then later using kelp. (Kelp is known for helping what ails me. 😊)

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
9 months ago
Reply to  beez

@Beez – Maangchi is the bomb. She has almost 6 million followers because she is good at what she does and she is a very positive person. I got over my aversion to fish sauce real quick once I realized how much it enhances the food. Just don’t smell it in the bottle or think that it is ‘fish’ sauce. 😉 I am the same way with 5 spice – not my cup of tea but necessary for the recipe.

For great recipes and fabulous family stories about growing up in China (It brings to mind Fangurl’s mom sharing her stories on The Bond Patreon posts 💖) try the You Tube channel ‘Made With Lau’. Dad Lau cracks eggs like a big boss.

I am not a homeopath or doctor, but I would think that Kelp would be good for anyone. Not sure if they are still using Interferon for MS but that is a nasty bit of medicine . Hang in there Miz B! 💖😘💖

beez
9 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

Thanks phl1rxd. I’ll check him out. 😍