Passion for Pashion

Korea is obsessed with fashion (known here as “pashion”). There’s an entire Style Channel devoted to America’s Next Top Model, Korea’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Korean Project Runway. Like fashion itself, Korea is all about Western imitation. Which is why clothes with “English” words scrawled all over them are especially popular.

As a native English speaker walking around Korea or chillin’ in your classroom, you see a lot of this:

Courtesy of Amanda M.

Shirts with English (sometimes Konglish). The English is invariably mispelled, misused, and/or completely misunderstood. Sometimes the English is all correct, but the idea is totally bizarre (see above). Most of the time it’s really funny stuff. Occasionally it’s offensive, but the person wearing it doesn’t actually know what they’re wearing, so it’s still comical.

Lately I’ve been trying to keep a record of these crazyass shirts. It’s challenging though because you can’t very well take a picture. The whole ‘must save face’ thing would come into play if you suggested to a Korean that their English shirt was wronginteresting enough to document; they’d melt into a big mortified puddle. So instead I’ve tried to write a few down and recapture them for your viewing pleasure via Microsoft Paint.

Seen on a 6th grade girl

Seen on a 6th grade boy

Seen on an English teacher...

Seen on a 6th grade girl

Seen on a 6th grade boy

My favorite - seen on a 4th grade girl

Seen on a 4th grade girl

Seen on an elementary student - Courtesy of Becky C.

Courtesy of Ron B.

Courtesy of Joel H.

Courtesy of Adnan K.

Seen on an elementary student - Courtesy of Chris D.

4 responses to “Passion for Pashion

  1. Can you bring me a homey the clown or fuck pandas shirt? That would be amazing!

  2. Seen walking out of the subway, across the back of a 23-year-old Korean woman:

    “My daughter went to the army, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.


    [American Flag].”

    I was pretty close to chasing her down and photographing her with my phone.

  3. ‘Homie the Clown’ and ‘Buck Rou English’ actually strike me as rather awesome shirts in an ironic kinda way.

  4. It’s so hard not to take pictures of them. Sometimes you can sneak it in by acting like you’re taking a picture behind them, but not often. Even taking pictures of t-shirts on the rack at stores has gotten me some pretty embarrassed looks, then I feel bad. Once I saw a girl with a t-shirt on… I can’t remember the exact phrase but it was something about being wet… sexual innuendo(something really dirty, my eyes bugged out). I almost had to stop her and tell her not to wear it, but I decided she was better off ignorant.

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