Beating Boknal 3 (복날) The Handkerchief
I don’t think I sweat anymore than any other Europeans who are unused to heat and humidity but I’ve noticed Koreans aren’t particularly tolerant of sweaty bodies. If your sweating in confined spaces, such as the escalator, people will often back off. When the weather is at its most unpleasant I need to mop my brow every few minutes, and if I don’t , sweat can cascade off the face with embarrassing consequences. Handkerchiefs have definitely gone out of fashion in the UK but here in Korea there is a fantastic array of coloured cloths all ideal for mopping a sodden brow.
I probably have around 25 handkerchiefs and at between 1000-2000 Won, you can easily afford to buy one if you’ve forgotten to slip one in your pocket. The best place to buy them are at the ‘dollar’ shops which sell Tupperware food boxes, and a host of other miscellaneous household items.
In the heat of summer they are great wrapped around your neck at night to help prevent your neck getting clammy, or wrapped around your forehead as you trek up a mountain. The only thing you shouldn’t do with them is use them to blow your nose as Koreans would find this quite disgusting! If a handkerchief isn’t sufficient to soak up your spillage, hand-towels are an ideal upgrade.
© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.