How to Operate the Aircon – Korean Style
Just as there is with everything in Korea, there is an unspoken set of obscure rules for operating the air conditioner. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1: Call it an ayuhcon. All one word. Don’t pronounce the ‘r’ or people won’t know what you’re talking about.
Step 2: Wait for a really, really hot day.
Sike! You fool. The admin office never activates the aircon on the first really, really hot day. Only on the second.
Step 3: Wait until mid-afternoon on that second really, really hot day, after the suffocating humidity has started to drop and you are a walking sweat bath.
Step 4: Rejoice as the chirp echoes through the office or classroom, announcing the activation of the aircon.
Step 5: Resist the urge to touch the control panel. Remember: Your efforts will be futile. If you can’t help yourself, go set the air to a room temperature 23° C.
Step 6: Watch as the nearest Korean teacher taps the down button on the control panel until it hits 18°C (65°F). Cringe as she continues to tap the button, just in case an ‘arctic’ setting has been newly installed.
Step 7: Wait 15 minutes. Watch as the students’ sweat evaporates and the smallest girl, sitting right under the aircon vent, starts to shiver.
Step 8: Sigh as the students start to shout, “Teacher! Chuwa!” (cold!). Nevermind that 16 minutes ago they were crying, “Teacher! Aiyuhcon!”
Step 9: Class is over. Return to the office. Listen as every woman who enters the room sucks air through her teeth, exclaiming, “Ah, Chuwa!”
Step 10: Go to the bathroom. Notice that the control panel temperature has been raised to 24°.
Step 11: Return from the bathroom. Notice an odd, musty smell in the air. See that instead of turning it off, someone has set the aircon to 27°(80°F). Realize that the musty smell is coming from the vent, which is now trying to operate as a heater. Resist the urge to cry.
Step 12: Rejoice again when the 5:00PM chirp indicates that someone in the admin office has turned off the heater – I mean aircon.
Step 13: (The following day) Dress in layers, as if all four of Korea’s seasons are going to hit you at once. Because they will.