What is The Korean Crud?

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school sick bed

Where I spent 2 hrs after teaching my classes- the health room sick section/bed for girls in my elementary school. It has a cute blanket & bed pad heater!

Quick Updates: 1) The culture shock of having moved to Korea is really working me.  2)  I finally found western toilets! It’s in the Grade 1-3 building behind our building. It’s a bit of a walk and  often you’ll see me in bundled coat, scarf, Korean sandals- quickly shuffling between classes with a roll of toilet paper under my armpit. It’s because the toilet paper container is always empty.   3) My Korean co-teacher and I aren’t “best-ies” as some other folk are with theirs. It’s a little depressing. I’ll give our relationship a bit more time before giving up; 4) Being a Vegetarian in Korea is my current formidable obstacle (you will hear from me as soon as I can say “starving”);  5) What is The Korean Crud?…


Beware of  “The Korean Crud”

Before I came to Korea, I was researching what to prepare for and I stumbled upon a forum posting that said, “Watch out for the Korean Crud”.

First, you can’t really watch out for it.  It either gets you or it doesn’t and if you’re a newbie to this country, chances are you’ll be greatly susceptible to it.

I had seen this name surfacing in enough postings to get the impression it’s fairly common. What is it?

I hate that no one is ever really specific.

People say it’s a really bad cold that get when you arrive, because your western body has never had to develop an immunity to Asia‘s bacteria and viruses.



I hate mysteries that leave you hanging…

What does Korea have that the rest of Asia doesn’t to make The Crud… Korean…  is anyone’s guess.

Is it like Delhi belly? Do you vomit? Have a stomachache, diarrhea, flu? … Anyone out there know? Please feel free to clue a GRRRL in…

Whatever it is, it seems to have a handful of  newbie EPIK teachers dropping like flies now with some of those symptoms.

I’ve not gotten it yet–perhaps its cause I just got my flu shot, I just fought a cold before coming up and am all Vitamin C’d out or maybe it’s the fact I’ve had a clenched stomach and am a picky- and almost starving, now…-  vegetarian whose safe staple has been tofu, kimchi and yogurt.

If I’ve survived a week’s worth of squat toilet training (imaginably where the “worst Asian bacteria” must be), then I must have passed clearance on The Crud.

But I’ll knock on wood for safety…

… A Day Later

I just came down with some cold.

Fortunately,  I was smart to pack multi-symptom cold medicine for an occasions such as this.

But I’ll also try my hand at foreign prescriptions.  Korea seems pretty advanced medically, so I’ll hand my health over to them eventually.

My landlord’s daughter, Liz (her English name) came and introduced me to the neighborhood pharmacy (a block away). She helped me buy over-the-counter meds.  Having the help of someone Korean during this time, makes me feel a little better. Mostly it feels nice that someone cares. This makes a world of difference.

But I’ll keep you posted on that Crud thing




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18 Comments. Leave new

  • Taught English in South Korea between 2012 and 2014 and I can safely say that I never contracted the “Korean Crud”, nor even heard about it to be honest.

    I think squat toilets are probably safer than western ones for whatever it is, though, because at no point does your body touch any part of the toilet (you’re supposed to flush with your foot).

    I did get food poisoning (from my high school’s fish, I like to think… refused to eat fish there the rest of the year and didn’t get sick again) from which I had to miss school the next day. My co-teacher even came to my apartment hurriedly after I texted her, to verify that I wasn’t bluffing. Joke was on her: I’d been puking and shitting my brains out the entire night before and my apartment probably reeked of bile.

    Fun fact: I thought Korean bathrooms were weird until that early episode, where I learned to appreciate them fully for their multitasking possibilities. The night before, I simultaneously peed, diarrhea’d and puked all at once. What’s a girl to do when she can’t hold back the puke while shitting? Well, might as well puke down the bathroom drain. Once the stomach calmed down a bit, I just turned on the tap to clean up my mess a bit, and cold showered and continued puking and shitting for as long as I needed to. I freaking miss Korean bathrooms. They are, wait for it, the shit.

    Back to the crud. Like I said, didn’t get it (sounds like the flu) but my immunity system was definitely not ready for the Korean cold. And I mean, I’m a Canadian. We get winters. In fact I hadn’t been sick for 5 winters before going to Korea. But once I got there, whooo boy did I get the sniffles and toad voice every winter. Nothing bad, just… yeah, you work with kids, of course you’ll get the occasional cold. Not to mention that they don’t cover their mouths when they sneeze, there. Sigh. So yeah, of course I got sick, just never to flu (or “crud”) proportions.

  • […] an American, my body isn’t used to certain strains of viruses and bacterias of a foreign country ( like India, Korea or Thailand… so far, all the countries I’ve been sick in). My diet […]

  • So glad I stumbled across this post! I’ve been dealing with this for the past month and boy have I felt awful. I don’t mean to be mean, but I’m glad I’m not the only one that has had this 😛

    • @Kate: Glad I could console. LOL. Head straight to the doc & have him give you a shot in the butt and prescribe his packets of pills. Many of us have gotten sick a lot over the first few months of arrival. Guess it takes a while to get used to the Korean germs. Get well soon.

  • Wow, Thank you for your information. I’m also moved to Korea and I need to find information about it. My children are very excited. They said that finally they move to Korea. God, they are too obsessed to Korean Idol. I’m bit worry about the food there. They say that Korean food is very spicy.

    • @Lisa: Korea food IS very spicy. Chili paste is in a LOT of things. Your nose will run & it’s considered rude to blow. LOL. You can ask for less spice though, just to make it bearable. 😉 Korean idol i’ve not seen although one of Korea’s favorite pasttimes is Noraebang (karaoke). They love singing.

  • With the information that “Alex” mentioned, I have to say that I will be aware of this Korean Crud

  • Oh My God…fortunately I’ve never experienced that before.
    Korean Crud…it seems things that are worse than flu. I think what Robert doing is correct; he was always wearing two jackets out of the house to avoid contracting the Korean Crud.
    In what season does Korean Crud usually occur?

  • Good thing I hadn’t contracted that “Korean Crud” or something during my visit in South Korea. I had a hard time adjusting to the climate in Korea that when going out, I had to wear two jackets (fur coat and a jacket) to contain the cold weather. Fortunately, I have not contracted cold or whatsoever.

    And also, when is “The Crud” coming? It’s April 2011 now, and there’re no theatres showing it! 🙂

  • The Korean Crud… I probably wont be clinically diagnosed with the title but right now I have all the symptoms I was warned about. On and off for about two weeks I began to feel run down for no apparent reason. Body aches would also accompany the sluggishness. There has been some sinus congestion and a slight cough. I ran to the bathroom a few times yesterday with diareha but that seems to have passed today. I have found that I desire sleep much more, and vitiamin C. It is like my body slams on the breaks and makes me walk to the bed to sleep for 6 hours at a stretch, or jump up long enough to run out and get OJ. Sugar and coffee, water and OJ, have seemed to help me battle the rundown feeling but it just buffers it for a short time. No vomiting yet, and no fever so far as I can tell. You wont die from this but if you had to define a feeling of crud… this is what I would have defined it as. I was told that it effects everyone a bit differently. Some people get it very lightly and it passes quickly while for others it seems to stretch on for a long time and stay moderate. It often hits people twice or more too. You get it when you get here and then when you go back to the States and return here you can get it again. Sort of like a welcome back to Korea thing.

    • @Chad: Wow. You sound like you’re experience the brutal side of the Crud. That sounds a bit like what some others I know have experienced. Whatever I had was much more mild.

      An interesting thing is also that many expats I know (myself included) catch colds so often in Korea. It’s like your body takes a while to acclimate to the kind of bug they have here. Hope you get well soon and thanks for sharing your insider perspective!

  • I got it about 4 days into my first week of teaching, and was out of school for two days. I could barely even get out of bed. Virtually everyone I know got it at some point within their first month, even my boyfriend who came to visit me for 3 weeks!

    • @Kelsey: So the Korean Crud is like a really bad cold? Not a stomach virus thing? I think we newbies were kinda split down the middle- cold vs. stomach bug. Maybe it was the Korean Crud vs. Delhi Belly…

  • Aww hang in there!! Colds are no fun, and I’m glad you have friends to help you out at the pharmacy.

    After five years in Mexico, I’m still a frequent victim of Moctezuma’s revenge (Another reason why I thank God for western toilets)

    Also, I’m glad you finally found one at your school!! What are “Korean sandals” btw?

    • @ Gringationcancun: Thanks for the pep up, Laura. Wow- thought people just developed some immunity to that virus after a while! As for the friend- Liz was a total angel & very accidental. (I just rope the nearest passerby in! LOL)She put a note on my door to remind me to close my passkey lock! I went upstairs to clarify & she and her family were very thoughtful to help me out. Korean sandals I will mention soon!

  • That’s it. Katja should write movie slogans for a living. 🙂 Crud = scraping sticky, greenish substance from the bottom of your liver or something. Ick. I’d say this investigation is to be continued.

  • Ah, the “crud” sounds like the next Asian horror flick, think “ringu” , “audition” and “the suicide club” .
    Christine sits in a small almost empty room, void of light, staring at something just outside of the camera’s / viewer’s reach.
    She slowly touhes her nose.

    Close up to christine’s eyes, a look of horror , she open her eyes in terror.
    CamerA zooms out, Christine I holing her own nose between two fingers.

    Phase out to a speck of blood on the floor.

    The Crud, in theatres everywhere march 2011.

    • @Katja: ewwww…. that’s disgusting! LOL. You’ve watched too many Asian horror flicks! I have to thank you tho- it put a smile on my face when I initially read it, all foggy & stuffy-faced at 7A in the morning when I was getting read to go to work. You’re the best! Taught 5th graders up til lunchtime, went to the Health Room & was given some ginseng juice to take my medicine. Got to sleep in a little pink heated bed for 2 hrs. Very lucky- we didn’t have heated beds in Hawaii Elementary schools.

      @Nomadic Chick: Yeah, Katja is full of outrageously wickedly fun ideas!


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