The winter temperatures are well and truly upon us now, not least of all in our apartment's bathroom which somehow manages to simulate jungle conditions in summer and be colder than Pyongyang in winter. This is the one time of the year that our singular window remains shut most of the time, which means that I'm spared listening to most of the noise outside.
There's one particular everyday sound of Korea that I'm not sorry to miss. For a long time I thought it originated from just one particular person at the school near us, but this summer I came to realise that there are multiple culprits randomly passing by beneath us. It's the noise of Korean ajeossis clearing the phlegm from their throats - invariably it seems to start as a long rumbling noise from deep within rises to a coarse crescendo of bubbling mucus which can finally be heard being ejected from the mouth in a scene that if seen, must surely be reminiscent of a particularly grim science fiction movie featuring alien parasites. If you're really lucky, you can even hear the squelching noise of this mass of biohazard finally hitting the floor.
The current record for a full respiratory and possibly digestive system ejection stands at 10 seconds from start to finish - the latter being defined as the audible point of eruption. It's sufficient time for my wife and I to often exchange pained expressions as we sit at our desks wishing we didn't have to listen.
Korean tags: 아저씨, 소음