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Hands off - a Korean & American intercultural roleplay for ESL or EFL students


American guy: You meet a friend in Korea and he is all over you. You were a straight guy in America and you didn't come to Korea to find a boyfriend or explore your sexuality. Find out why he can't keep his hands off you.

Cultural note: Korean guys seem 'touchy-feely' to American guys. Other than a hi-five, handshake, a punch to the arm or a pat on the butt (and only if you're in the major leagues and just hit a homerun) straight guys don't want to touch each other. If an American puts his arm around another guy, the other guy will think he's making a gay joke. Straight American guys can be pretty homophobic and might be pretty concerned about anything that makes them look gay.


Korean guy: You just met your friend from America, your best friend who you haven't seen in forever. But he looks like he's trying to decide if he should run away or punch you in the face. Why is he so tense? He should be as happy to see you as you are to see him.

Cultural note: It's not unusual for Korean guys to put their arms on each other's shoulders or rest their hands on each other's backs. This is especially true when they drink. A more extreme, but not unheard of case: sometimes a Korean student who is very tired will rest his head on another guy's lap. Or sometimes guys will walk down the street with their arms around each other.

Teacher's notes

1. You can use this Youtube video to set the scene:

2. Ask students to identify how each person (both the American and the Korean) might be feeling. Ask students if they have ever felt like that.

3. Ask students what each person should say in order to tell the other how they feel.

If you have any concerns or tips, please share on the message board.