Observations About Korea

I’ve almost been in Korea for a week and I have a number of observations that set it apart from the US that I thought I would share.  These by no means span the entire country, but are more of just general observations I’ve noticed.

Do you remember how in public restrooms you have to push on a button to have water come out, and it says on for probably 10-15 seconds before you have to hit it again?  That’s the way Korean showers are.  After pressing the button the water lasts for about 30 seconds before shutting it off, unless you press it every 20 seconds or so and it stays on.  I guess it’s to save water, but it’s extremely annoying because I like to stand in the shower with the water running and sing along to the latest Disney movie.

Korean hotels hold your key for you.  They are usually really bulky keys, kind of like what you have to use when you try to use the restroom in elementary school.  You know, the bulky clipboard or the toilet seat that your 3rd grade teacher used as a bathroom pass.  Korean hotels are the same way.  You take your key downstairs and drop it off at the desk with a very friendly desk clerk.

Koreans can’t drive for ****.

One way streets aren’t exactly one way streets.  Maybe there’s a sign, but all streets are two way streets no matter how narrow.  It makes for some sticky situations sometimes.

Bus drivers are allowed to run red lights.

Korea is one of those countries that doesn’t flush their toilet paper.  Instead you place it in a basket next to the toilet.  The reasoning supposedly is because the sewers can’t handle it.  I don’t believe that, because I’ve been flushing toilet paper since I got here and the earth is still turning so I’m not worried.  This is the 21st century in a 1st world country after all.

Korean people have to be the nicest group of people I have ever met.  I would trust them with just about anything.  They are also extremely helpful!  If I ask someone something and they don’t speak english, they will go out of their way to help me find someone who does.

If you need to make a U turn, you make the U turn BEFORE the light and can be done at any time, even if the light is red.

The food is amazing.

You cannot buy a phone plan unless you have your Alien Registration Card.  Otherwise you will have to get a temporary phone at the airport.  I still don’t have a phone because I’m a rebel.  *edit* I now have a phone….

Phone plans are reasonable but there are no subsidies on the phones like in the US.  Bummer.

Dunkin Donuts sells amazing breakfast burritos in Korea.  I have no idea why, but I’ve found it’s best not to question things when the world turns in your favor.

All internet is extremely fast here.  Like, extremely fast.  The US is very behind in this regard.

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On the same topic of internet, your phone plan even has unlimited internet.  Try THAT in the states.  Plus, all internet at your home is guaranteed gigabit fiber internet with no cap, and is always $30 per month.  Suck it Time Warner.

This may come across as sexist, but at this point I’m only speaking the truth.  If there’s anything worse than a Korean driver, it’s a female Korean driver.  Yes, there are the usual Asian stereotypes but this one is for real, 100% fact.  My realtor is a very nice lady, but I felt I was going to die and I was praying my last rites as we drove around town.  She could simultaneously talk on the phone, text, adjust the navigation system, talk to me, honk, yell at passing motorists, and drink from a bottle.  The one thing she couldn’t do was use the brake pedal, it’s a foreign concept that must not have translated well.  I lost count of the red lights we blew through, or how many people she *almost* hit.  My coworker was with us and he’s been here awhile so it didn’t really phase him much but it definitely scared me.

Folks like eating out in Korea.  This is something I can get behind.

Gyms are extremely expensive here.

It is customary to eat family style when dining out.  It’s a sharing thing.  It’s an awesome thing because you get to try what everyone else orders.  It does get awkward when Yim Kim reaches across the table and eats the last gyozo from your plate that you had your eye on.  Yim Kim, you tricky guy.

Korea puts undo pressure upon the younger folks to get married.  If you are a 26 year old female and you do not have a boyfriend or husband, people start talking.  By age 30, you’ll be single for life.  Also, when people ask if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and you say no, they are surprised and sad because they think that nobody likes you and you must be depressed all the time.  In my case, whenever I’m asked I say I have a girlfriend and they are happy.  Maybe not happy, but I should say proud.  Maybe proud is the wrong word.  Maybe I passed the “relationship test.”  I have no idea.

I’ve heard that plastic surgery is a thing here.  I have yet to see any signs promoting this.  It must be an underground black market type of deal.

Kids are into fashion so I regularly see young teenage boys wearing skinny jeans that couldn’t get any tighter even if a boa constrictor had a try at squeezing them.  A little overboard in my opinion.

I touched on this in my previous post, but negotiation is the norm here in Korea.  I’m not used to negotiating, but I talked my landlord down from 800,000W a month in rent with nothing included to 750,000W a month plus internet and water.  Things like food may be harder to negotiate, but electronics and various goods are easy to talk down.  Everything in Korea is negotiable for a minimum of 10%.

Respect your elders.  If you take a bus or train, old people get the closest seat to the door.  If you sit there you will get publicly shamed even if there is no old person present.

There are few copyright laws here, so people will take something that is popular and use that as their store name regardless of what the store sells.  I gave an example of the pillow store Hooters next to my hotel, but the examples are endless.  Gucci restaurant, OMG Motors, Chili’s Convenience store.  I need to take pictures the next time I run across some of them.  Not to mention the stores that are a straight copy of the original, such as Prada, Gucci, etc.

You don’t get to see the sun much.  Part of it is pollution from China called Yellow Dust, part of it is from mist stirred up from the Indian Ocean.  Either way, it’s always hazy and grey around here.

Never go to a money exchange on base- the best bang for your buck is outside the gate.  The sketchier the better I’ve found.

Most apartments have double windows and sliding doors.  What I mean by that is there are literally two sets of windows and doors.  I am not 100% sure of the reason.


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