Once in Korea, I was told by an adult student that my brother (based on a photo) was more handsome than I. I laughed, and she was like, "Really! He's more handsome." What good can come out of this uncalled for comparison? Is the implication that I should now go get plastic surgery??
Another time, an adult student said that I am "kind of handsome." Perhaps she didn't realize how unflattering that sounds.
Better to say nothing at all than to say such complimsults (I just made up this word.)
Chinese people also tend to be blunt about physical appearance, nicknaming people "fatso," asking what happened to your face, etc.
Last week, at the beginning of the week- a little girl came up to me and said several times, "Teacher is handsome". I said, "Thank you very much". I took it as a compliment but I wasn't too flattered, as I know Korean people often just throw these words around.
At the end of the week the same girl came up to me and said, "Teacher is ugly". I said, "that's not not very nice!" and she repeated, "Teacher is ugly".
I said, "why?" She said, "your hair is no good!". I laughed, especially as I new I was having a bad hair day and probably in need of a haircut. So I decided to be thankful for her feedback.
So this makes me wonder if the word ugly is a correct translation. Could 못생겨 mean something less harsh than the word ugly, like having an unkempt appearance? Because ugly means something very horrible- repulsive and hideous, not just you're having a bad hair day.
Also I have noticed that adults also throw around these words and call each other beautiful and handsome, without necessary having a romantic/sexual interest in the person. Also I have been called handsome by many guys as well in Korea, which was unusual for me. People can also call you handsome to try and flatter your ego when they want something or are looking for a favor.
No. It means ugly. Koreans are just blunt about appearances. My coworkers will tell me I look sick or tired without batting an eye. It sounds like your student was displeased witb your appearance that day. She just didn't have the more direct words yet to say exactly why.
I'm curious why you are not used to appreciating someone's appearance without sexual attraction? Korean men are a little looser with showing affection to their friends. Its pretty refreshing.
I know it means ugly, but I don't think it has the same connotation as the word ugly. Do you understand?
I also didn't say anthing about what I appreciate or what I am not used to appreciating. I just find it unusual and superficial the way they tend to throw around these words, and I have worked in 7 different countries.
Generally I have no need to comment on people's appearances at all. I only tend to call my girlfriend beautiful.
If you call someone ugly in an English speaking country you may face a negetive reaction or seriously hurt someone's feelings. In Korea too, it's an offense to insult someone in a public setting. So I think it's important to teach students not to go around calling people ugly.
In response, I asked the class whether or not they thought that particular girl was beautiful or ugly, and the boys said ugly. So it just shows how superficial they are when it comes to throwing around these words.
In Korea I found that it's quite common for people, especially students to comment or make a judgement (in English class) about whether or not someone is "handsome" or "ugly". It's even in some of their English textbooks. They just throw these words around without really understanding the real meaning and implications.
it's literally their language. what don't they understand? stop whitesplaining
They could be talking about her inner ugliness in which case it's fine to say how a person appears.
I'm afraid it's not :( From Naver Dic: 못생겼다: 생김새가 보통에 미치지 못하다. https://ko.dict.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=13882100 Only mentions the physical shape being below average.