Sarah Goes to Korea: Hweshik

Travel Diaries

This week I had the pleasure of attending two Hweshik in one week. But wait, what is a Hweshik? Hweshik or 회식 is short hand for hwesa, which means company, and shiksa, which means meal. So basically it is a communal meal between teachers (if you work at a school like me), employees, or business partners etc. For many people these events can range somewhere between a hardy good time (maybe too good of a time really), and the burning pits of hell.    

This is my personal Hweshik scale. All are honest thoughts I have had during Hweshik.

What makes these events so stressful for some and fun for others is the climate of the situation. Even though it is typically meant to be a celebration (the 2nd Hweshik I went to this week was to celebrate the conclusion of the talent show) or a meeting to touch base and have a social bonding experience between teachers (my 1st Hweshik this week was all the lady teachers and the principal, not too sure what that one was about but my co-teacher said it was something to do with English). There is still a lot of cultural formality to abide to. The youngest teachers have to serve the older teachers, people pour each other drinks to show mutual respect or ask for good favor, and there is inevitable talk with the principal. 


I’m not ready yet. I DON’T WANT TO GO.

Out of my two Hweshik this week they aptly landed on the scale at WHAT AM I EATING??/SITTING BY THE PRINCIPAL And EVERYONE IS DRUNK. The first Hweshik I had was on Monday and we ate what is called Shabu Shabu. Shabu Shabu is a hot pot dish that boils its ingredients (you can pick what you put in) in meat stock, you grab the ingredients and then wrap them in rice paper, add vegetables, and then eat it! Now unfortunately I ended up on the seafood side of the table (because I was the principal distraction).   

Shabu Shabu!

I’m not exactly an adventurous eater, but being in Korea has forced me to eat everything my co-teachers have put on my plate and this was no exception. There was squid, octopus, muscles, a crab, shrimp, and another unidentified shell fish put into the hot pot. An older teacher had the honor of ceremoniously decapitating and removing the limbs from the sea creatures before throwing them in the pot. Needless to say the beef side of the table was looking real fresh at this point. 

Quite literal annihilation. Note the carcasses.

Thanks to my generous co-teacher and principal I got to try everything in the hot pot. It seems like the unspoken rules of Hweshik are, never stop eating and never stop drinking because as soon as I stop to breathe someone asks me what I’m doing and throws questionable food on my plate. With that being said I can’t say I’m not grateful because I admit some of it was good, and now I will no longer avoid the squid and tentacles in my soup during lunch at school!

I’m ready for you market fish.

My second Hweshik we ate duck and it was awesomely delicious. Because it was a celebration Hweshik everyone got exceptionally drunk and I ended up pouring awkward drinks for people. They had to close the doors to our section of the restaurant because people were stumbling and dropping bottles. And the teachers who barely talk to me actually got drunk enough ask me to do a ‘wave’ with them (think of a crowd doing the wave, but replace arm raising with shot drinking and that is what a wave is in Korea). I don’t like to drink at Hweshik simply because once you start it never stops so I usually drink water out of a shot glass instead but it is entertaining to watch everyone else. 

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By Jess

A bookworm since the tender age of whenever I stopped chewing on books and started actually reading them. A cat-mom, graphic designer, and introvert originally from Pittsburgh, but now resides in the humid, hot, state of Texas. Cheers!

  • This was interesting and fun to read!! For a shy person who's not much of a drinker, this sounds like it could be fun, but it also could be a total nightmare lol!

  • Ahhh makes me miss Japan! We had the exact same there, and I always ended up eating random stuff. This one time there was lobster that was still alive, walking on the plates. I refused to eat that and my coworkers were so pissed at me…

  • Oooh, this sounds really entertaining! I would have loved to be on the seafood side of the table, as long as it was well prepared.

    Miss Blue Eyes