Before I came to the Korea, I already knew that people in the orient like to wear masks. The Koreans wear them. The Chinese wear them. The Japanese wear them, and the Taiwanese wear them. Other countries in the east may wear them too, but I am acquainted with those countries using them. Before I came here, I thought they were just used when someone had a cold so they wouldn’t pass the cold out to other people, and I appreciated them wanting to protect other people. In America, we usually only see doctors and nurses wearing these masks, but everyone does here. Here in Korea, I have also learned there are different kinds of masks and different reasons for wearing them.
This is the kind of disposable medical mask the doctors give me and insist I wear that I take off as soon as I can.
First of all, I already told you about the people wearing masks if they have a cold. Sometimes, I have breathing problems, and if I go to see a doctor, automatically, the doctor will hand me a white disposable mask and urge me to wear it. I really hate those masks! I can’t breathe if I try to wear one. I sweat under them. When the doctor gives me one, I try, but I end up taking it off as soon as possible because I just can’t take it.
Other than the white disposable ones, there are lots of other kinds of masks. These masks are made of material and are not disposable, but washable. There are cute masks with prints of cartoon characters on them for the kids to wear. A lot of adults like to wear the black masks. My son in law’s boss gave him a couple of masks, but they stay in the package because my son in law doesn’t like to wear them either.
This time of year, is when you are going to see lots of masks in Korea, but not because they all have colds. It is spring, and in the spring, there is dust everywhere. They say it is the yellow dust that blows in from China. You can wash your car one day and go outside the next day, and the car is covered in yellow dust. You could say they wear them for medical reasons because the yellow dust can make you sick. I get warnings on my phone from the Korean government when they think the dust level is too high suggesting I wear a mask. If you are a foreigner and it is your first year in Korea, you aren’t used to the dust, and many foreigners get sick the first year because of the dust. When we went shopping the other day, we even saw laundry soap that was made to repel the yellow dust. My daughter looked at it and laughed saying she didn’t think any laundry soap could stop clothes from getting dirty.
When I was at the bank yesterday, I saw a sign I just had to take a picture of. They are asking people to remove their masks when they come into the bank. I have actually made jokes about the people in masks looking like banditos from Mexico, but I know they are not, but just trying to protect themselves from the dust in the air.
Have you tried wearing a medical mask? I hope they don’t ask you to wear one, and if they do, that you handle them better than I do. I walked out into the parking lot of my building today, and I saw people here and there wearing masks. Not everyone wears them, but many do. You can go into any pharmacy in Korea and buy them easily if you think you should be wearing one. I have heard you can even order them online. However, I don’t like to wear them, so only wear one if I am forced.