Hweshik Culture – The social occasion central to any Korean workplace
Namaste/Hello/ Hola, I work as a Strategy executive in an Engineering company in Korea. Since its small company we don’t have many foreign employees except me and one more colleague. Since only we two are from another planet, we are always curious about Korean Culture. And the most popular among these are “how often do Korean have staff dinner” called Hweshik. For those who are new to this concept, hweshik usually involves drinks and dinner with your fellow workers and are meant to strengthen the workplace bond and relationship. Having hweshik is a regular thing in the Korean work culture and enjoyed every month. Seriously!!!!!!
In our country from where I came, we have staff dinner usually twice or max thrice in a year on some occasions like an Annual Meet or Big Celebrations etc. And this culture is also followed in Japan as per my Japanese client information.
Well then, who would not enjoy free drinks & dinner at the expense of company? We all do enjoy!!!
So why do Korean Companies have hweshik almost every month?
Influence of Confucianism: Confucianism entered Korea from China and was accepted enthusiastically and in such a strict form that Chinese people called the Koreans as the “Ceremonious people of the East”. Confucianism means there must be a proper order and logic to all the things in the universe, which includes human society also. As we all know, Korean people are very family oriented, they like to celebrate holidays/ festivals with their family, friends and relatives. Due to this Korean think along the lines of one society and the whole country as family member. This family culture has been adopted by many companies to build a healthy and happy work culture. So it’s normal to see and experience a family oriented culture in Korean Companies. And due to this culture there are so many get-togethers that companies hold once a month.
To build close & healthy work relationships: Korean are always enthusiastic about going for “hweshik” where the whole team will drink and dine together after work. It’s a belief of Koreans that this exercise will build strong relationship and bonding among the team/company. For this reason, company usually have hweshik every month since Korean people are hard workers and they believe in one philosophy- “WORK HARD- PARTY HARD”. These get-togethers also help in relieving stress and can also resolve many unspoken issues among the employees. This also an occasion to create the opportunity to understand your fellow teammates and make friends with them.
But hweshik may not be always comfortable to us (foreign employees) as they speak mainly in their native language, so you feel somehow left out in the whole conversation or even the party too. Also they encourage you to drink a lot, even when you know you can’t. But that’s a different issue that will be discussed some other time.
So working in South Korea and still haven’t gone to even one single hweshik??? Go guys, you are really missing some great free food and drinks. So enjoy your next hweshik!!!!!!!