For this month’s post I am revisiting the topic of house slippers and the culture of taking shoes off when indoors. This was a topic I had written about back in October 2012.
Taking shoes off while indoors is the norm in many countries, such as Japan, Korea and in countries across South East Asia. I grew up in Malaysia where it’s hot, and everyone goes barefooted at home. In countries where the climate is colder, such as in Japan or South Korea, people may wear socks or house slippers in the house, instead of having bare feet. In South Korea, houses have a special area just inside the front door where people take off their shoes. This area is called a ‘hyeon gwan’ (현관).
Every time when I cross the threshold from outdoors to indoors, I will feel funny if I don’t take my shoes off. I will feel like I need to ask the host if it’s okay to keep my shoes on. And I always feel like cringing when someone wearing outdoor shoes puts their feet up on the furniture.
I felt like revisiting the topic of house slippers as I have been given a pair of Korean house slippers. They are called ‘sil nae hwa’ (실내화) in Korean, and literally translates as ‘room indoor shoes’.
Korean house slippers are a bit like ankle socks. They are soft and can be rolled up just like a pair of socks. They don’t look big enough to fit me, but they have elastic all around the sides, so I was surprised when they stretched to fit me. On the soles of the Korean house slippers, there are little dots that give them better grip on a smooth floor. Korean house slippers are comfortable and help keep the floors clean.