What to Expect on a Korean MT

Whether you’re a student or working in a Korean company, chances are you will find yourself at an MT at one point in your life.

In Korea, MT stands for Membership Training, and is essentially a retreat or small trip with your company, club, church group, or any other small interest group. It is where you bond and really become a team, and its a big part of Korean culture.

My first MT took place at a ritzy hotel in Gangnam so I was able to ease into the tradition comfortably, but usually, your team will travel somewhere outside of the main city and stay one night in a large house. You’ll probably be eating Korean BBQ, sleeping on the floor, and drinking a lot. If you’re wary about how to survive your first MT, here are a few things you can expect and prepare for.

Sharing Rooms

In most cases, your group will rent one or two large rooms at a guest house for one night. The rooms will probably be made up in traditional Korean style, so you’ll be sleeping on the floor with mats. You’ll also be sharing the room with all of your team mates. If your group is big enough, you usually split up by gender, but if not you’re all cuddled up in one cozy room.2

Minimal Work

In order to write this MT off as a work trip, you technically have to do a little work. This will probably last for an hour or two where you do brainstorming activities or something similar. In my experience it has been busy work that we’ve never really used later, but in some cases you will be formulating plans that you will return to when you’re back at work. Try to save the drinking for after this work time.

Drinking Games

Which brings us to our next point: Drinking games. After your work is complete, most companies will break out the beer, soju, and BBQ pork. If you aren’t interested in drinking, let people know before they get plastered so you don’t have to turn down a soju shot from your tipsy coworker. In many cases people are understanding, but pretending to sip on a drink never hurt anyone. If you’re into drinking, go hard! Most MT’s will last until about 3am so plan accordingly.3

Loosening Up

This is a chance to get to know your teammates outside of the work setting. Memories made on an MT can have a huge impact on your relationships in the office, so try to have fun with your colleagues. At one MT my drunk coworker walked straight through a screen door. Don’t be that guy.

Not Looking Awesome

You’re going to be up and at ‘em until at least 1am so prepare to look a little ragged. You will smell like meat and alcohol even if you didn’t partake, and you probably won’t sleep well. Luckily, everyone else is in the same boat. If you’re concerned about your coworkers seeing you look less than perfect, figure out a game plan beforehand. My suggestion? Just look natural – no one will remember what you looked like on an MT.4

Morning Ramen

You’ve got to love Korean traditions, right? Nine times out of ten, you’re going to have ramen for breakfast. It’s the classic hangover food that will perk your Korean coworkers right up. Personally, ramen isn’t my favorite, but there are often leftovers from the night before or the organizers of the MT brought some emergency food supplies. If you love ramen, be sure you wake up on time because it can be a bloodbath trying to get a cup!

Overall, an MT is meant to be a time to kick back, relax, and bond with your team. It’s never anything to worry about and should be a fun experience, not a stressful one.

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