Behind the maskThe following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. Ornstein, who wrote to us from Osan:
Q. Mr. Ornstein:
I know that many Koreans wear surgical masks in the winter, believing this will stave off colds. But why on earth don't more Koreans wear hats? On very frigid days, most Koreans go hatless. Don't they know that most body heat loss occurs from the top of the head?
Koreans began wearing masks decades ago when the government and hospitals suggested the practice as a way to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, such as influenza. The practice has survived, and many people still strap on a mask at the first cough or sniffle of a cold.
As for hats, local health experts advise wearing them in the winter, but most Koreans are averse to them. If you wear a hat, people usually point out that you are either fashion-conscious or different -- depending on you and the hat.
Traditionally, men's hats denoted their social class. As Korea became modernized, hats became less popular.
More in Diplomacy
U.S. ready to negotiate with North, envoy says
No Koreans reported injured in Beirut blast
Back to China
Daegu court can proceed to sell off Japanese assets
Korean gov't needs concrete net-zero goals: Ban Ki-moon