How to Operate the Aircon – Korean Style

aircon panel
Is this so hard to maintain?

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.

Have you experienced this in Korea or anywhere else in the world?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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