The Korean T-Shirts You’ve Heard So Much About

ME: I should blog more about Korea. I mean, come on, that stuff is gold.

B: Yeah. There are hardly any blogs about expats teaching English in Korea. No one does that. You would really have the corner market on it.

ME: Hey, now.

B: Just don’t be all like, “ZOMG you guys!!!! Look at how badly they speak English!!! It’s like totes hilar!!!!”

ME: …..

Yum yum.

Yum yum.

Good thing B rarely reads my blog because today, my friends, I am here to bring to you a fine assortment of t-shirts I bought in Korea. They have kept my top half clothed very well from my time of ownership. Are they totes hilar as well? You be the judge.

Here we have a screen-printed shirt with two ducks outfitted in hunting garb. Leave it to an American to find the one t-shirt in Korea with a gun on it:


I got this one during the World Cup in 2010. Sharia don’t like it. Rock the South Africa. Rock the South Africa.


This next one blows the PG rating for my blog. Avert thine eyes, o children: DSC08825



B’s little voice is in my head chastising me for showing off all my shirts. Here is a palate-cleansing gray shirt from American Apparel in Seohyeon Plaza in Seoul to clear your mind of the idea that everyone is walking around in Korea looking like a lunatic. Shout out to Wee Cee for getting oil stains all over my one normal shirt.


Don’t be too jealous that I have the coolest Nirvana t-shirt in the history of the world:

nirvana shirt

Another cool band shirt I have is of The Rolling Stones. Here I am wearing it recently:


Now here’s the detail:


Yup. Maybe Mick Jagger’s mom was born in 1923?

Actually, no. I Wikipedia’d it and she was born in 1913. Don’t know where they got 1923.

I simply love this next shirt. B is a fan of Harmony Korine (of Kids and Gummo fame) and he finally figured out that my beloved shirt was referencing a documentary called Beautiful Losers: 

beautiful loser

What did I wear in the winters, you ask? We-he-he-ell. I’ve also got some sweatshirts for when it got cool outside. I liked this one because at the time I was wearing red glasses so it kind of looked like me:


And when that one was in the wash, I wore this one for obvious reasons:


This is my mantra.

I will leave you with this yarn breast hat that my friends found at HomePlus (for you Brits, this is the Korean leg of Tesco.) That was the first and last time that previous sentence will ever occur naturally.


yarn breast

I’ve caught myself a case of the human syndrome!


  1. I’ve got to say. These are amazing. I am speechless.

    1. I have excellent fashion sense.

      1. Sally · · Reply

        Your shirts are magical.

  2. Don’t listen to B. Mocking foreign English never gets old. Mocking domestic English also, for that matter.

    1. English just sets itself up for getting dumped all over. I have very little pity for it.

  3. The duck one would make a great conversation piece in my salon! (As in living room–I’m being fancy.)

    1. I’m wearing that one today!

  4. Emily, thank you. That was totally worth the wait. Now I feel satiated from my Korean tee viewing. And I agree with Ross – mocking foreign English never gets old. :D

    1. We are all of one mind on that! Have you ever seen It’s pretty much the best ever.

      1. I’ll check it out immediately.

  5. There is nothing about that hat that goes together, Emily! It’s great!

    1. I know! I seriously don’t understand what it’s trying to convey at all!

  6. I want that “Design won’t save the world” shirt. Because DAMN. Sh*t’s on point, man.

    1. I think it was meant to parody those Gap Red shirts whose proceeds went to AIDS charities. And yeah, it pretty much pwns it. You can throw money at problems all you want but serious change comes down to pulling your sleeves up and actually helping.

    1. They burn! THEY BURN!

  7. Lovely, funny and interesting blog darling!!! I’m a new follower from Italy!!! Kisses…

    1. Hi Simona! Thank you for checking me out! ;D

    1. I’m a fashion plate.

  8. I love how the brand of that first shirt is ‘Broccoli’.

    1. Quite a few of those shirts are Broccoli brand, actually! The purple one and the brown sweatshirt are made by that company too. Good stuff, methinks.

  9. sidney · · Reply

    I can’t help it…I AM jealous of the Nirvana shirt….FANTASTIC !

    1. Can you believe my brother doesn’t like it? ;)

  10. I need to go shopping in Korea apparently :)

    1. I would highly recommend it. And the best part is that I didn’t pay more than $5 for any of those shirts.

  11. And you still own all of these? I do have a few shirts that are faded and dying that I’ll probably hold onto because they have sentimental value. Then again, how long ago were you in Korea? 2010? Some of my best shirts are from 2009. I need to go shopping.

    1. It wasn’t too long ago. We left at the beginning of 2011 so they are all in pretty good condition still (mostly because I couldn’t fit into them for a decent portion of my pregnancy.) I need to go shopping too, though. I feel weird wearing a shirt that says “fuck” around C. I think that makes me a good parent.

  12. Not surprisingly, my favorite one is the soup kitchen shirt.

    1. That appears to be the crowd favorite.

  13. You have quite a collection, Em! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to I think I would go with the Nirvana one. Lots of my T-shirts have holes and oil stains (I hate that!). I guess I should get some new ones!

    1. I LOVE that one too! I have never seen anything else like it.

  14. Wow! I like the soup kitchen one.

    1. It’s pretty on point, right?

  15. Why are weird shirts so precious? I have so many shirts that I refuse to throw out simply because they are unique and no one has anything like them. Ugh. Awesome stuff for reals.

    Now I’m craving seasoned leather jacket. THANKS A LOT.

    1. You know what you could do if you feel crafty? Make a blanket out of your old shirts that you don’t want to throw out. My mom made me a blanket years back of all my beloved tees from when I was growing up and it’s the best thing evar.

      Also, yes to the craves. Oms.

  16. I want the glasses sweatshirt. Pronto!

    1. Quite a few of the moms at our school had that same shirt!

  17. I was in Korea for the world cup, and I have an awesome world cup shirt that says “Now Again Dream!” It makes me laugh every time I wear it. I also used to have one that said, “When I was a man young before” that had robots on it. I think I threw it away, though. Darn.

    1. Forgot to mention: I love that sweatshirt with the red glasses!!

    2. How could you throw that away!? How I miss Konglish. FIGHTING!

  18. I should add my favorite ones that you sent me! They are seriously my favorite shirts!

    1. I love how you had that shirt that I gave you on when we Skyped recently and I didn’t even recognize it. That is pretty emblematic of me nowadays. xoxo

  19. I agree about the soup kitchen t-shirt being awesome, yet share your reservations about wearing it around little ones. Maybe cover the center “UC” in the offending word with tiny pictures of Campbell’s soup cans?
    ps. Whenever I see your smiling avatar around the blogoverse it makes ME smile. You look a lot like my youngest daughter in that picture.

    1. That’s a really good idea! We have some Andy Warhol posters (that, incidentally, we got in Korea, along with everything we wear) that would certainly do the trick. Thank you for dropping by, Peg! I feel as though I’ve been blessed by a blogging deity ;D

  20. DeeDee · · Reply

    Whoa. Where to begin? The red glasses sweatshirt with acupuncture needles in the eyes is freaktastic, but I love the orange randomness one. One could replace the word “random” with “ADHD” and it would be even more true.

    1. I love that one the most too! It is so under-appreciated in my weirdo shirt collection.

  21. I loved this post, Emily. I think your Korean tee shirt collection should be on display in the Met’s Costume Institute. Unfortunately, the Met does not think like me. Jerks.

    1. The Met. Pfffft. They wouldn’t know genius if it hit them in the bottom. I think I could get an opening in SoHo anyway.

  22. Novelty t-shirts are the best. I think the soup kitchen shirt is my favorite, but random words is at least a close second.

    1. It’s a shame I can’t really wear the soup kitchen one anymore. I feel a certain ambivalence about wearing the f word around my child.

  23. I’m totes jealz of your Nirvana tshirt.

    1. It is one of a kind! I bought it in the Seoul subway from a little old lady.

  24. Stunning array. You need a walk-in closet to permanently showcase them. Love the random words tee!

    1. I actually have a walk-in closet, but now it is the holding facility for all of baby crap C has outgrown. :P

      1. Ah, the sacrifices you make for that cutie!

  25. Actually, I am in fact “too jealous,” about your Nirvana shirt… way cool! This is in fact a very impressive collection Emily! thanks for finally sharing it with us… I’ve been thinking about it since you teased us last week. ;-)

    1. Sorry it’s taken me so long to answer your comment! I have actually worn that shirt like twice since I wrote this post! I will tell it you like it, since I am evidently talking to my clothes now.

      1. I talk to my clothes too. Is there something wrong with that? I figured it was early onset (not that early) dementia, but I’ll run with normal, if you give the go. ;-)

        1. I got a new bathing suit the other day that actually fits and looks halfway decent on me, so I told it that it could be my best friend if it wants. Surprisingly, it didn’t say anything back.

          1. One of the women in my recent writing retreat wrote THE coolest short love story from the view point of a jacket. I wish I’d gotten a copy; it was sumptuous and so real. My best friend, this week, has been my light weight pjs. They’ve been with me all day, every day. Today, I had to put them in the wash, and put on real clothes again… damned reality.

            1. Noooo! Why can’t we all just wear PJs all the time?

              1. Except at the mall, or the grocery store, or anywhere outside my house… I have some guidelines. So, I just stay in.

  26. Brilliant. Just brilliant. Tshirt gold. My favourite, from Viet Nam was a leather jacket with the word ‘vintage’ spelt wrong so it was proclaiming TINVAGE! in massive letters cross it’s front. Classic.

    1. That is amazing! Please take a picture of it and send it to me. Engrish is my most favorite thing in the entire world.

      1. Alas, I did not get the Tinvage jacket! I wish I had now. My latest post though, is about being told I was extra rarge in China…. Thanks, China. Just, thanks.

  27. Epic collection!
    Totally jealous

  28. I lived in Seongnam from September 2009 to 2010. One day, I saw that Nirvana shirt in the Joongang underground mall at Sujin station and for some insane reason, didn’t buy it. I spent hours the next day dragging my friends into each shop trying to find it. I still, obviously, will google image search it every once in a while. I’m sorry for being the world’s biggest creepy stranger with this story, but I can not believe that after 3 1/2 years, the shirt actually exists!! The holy grail of shirts. And not just like, one of them, but possibly the exact shirt that I picked up, tried on, and unbelievably, PUT BACK ON THE RACK. This Nirvana shirt. My white whale. I don’t even care that I’m way overreacting cause seeing this shirt in a happy home makes me feel like I ran into an old friend who is doing really, really well and I just have to share my joy. Thank you thank you thank you!

  29. […] beach in high heels. Everybody is suddenly one year older with you. You love wearing shirts that say random things in English (condensation), French (Je suis canon) or German (Weltraum). You watch actual TV in the […]

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