20 things that still amaze me in Korea

I’ve been in Korea for 5 months now, and every day I find something new to love. There are some things however, that never cease to amaze me, and I thought I’d share them with you!

  1. When meeting people for the first time ‘are you married?’ is invariably one of the first questions they will ask you. Even the kids asked me when I started teaching them.

  2. Korean children are so much cuter than English children. Even the ugly ones are still so adorably cute! 

  3. The way my kids will whinge incessently about being too hot in the classroom, but refuse point blank to take their North Face puffa jackets off.

  4. The driving. Oh my god the driving. I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands everytime I get in a car. Most drivers show blatant disregard for traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, and road lanes. The pavement is seen as a perfectly acceptable alternative to the road for scooters and bikes, weaving their way through the pedestrians, beeping impatiently as they go.

  5. Despite the obvious language barrier, people will go out of their way to help you if you look lost or confused (which for me is most of the time!).

  6. Spitting on the street. And the accompanying noises. Ew.

  7. I’m not sure I will ever get used to the staring. The unashamed, spectacularly unsubtle staring, often accompanied by the word ‘waygookin’ (foreigner) muttered to their friends. I think it’s usually done out of curiosity rather than anything more offensive, but I spent the first couple of months being completely paranoid that I had mascara all over my face or something in my teeth.

  8. Being told that I have yellow hair, a long nose, and big, funny coloured eyes. Certainly makes a girl feel good about herself!

  9. Fan death. The genuine belief that if you sleep in a room with an electric fan running, you will die. What is that all about?! 

  10. How polite Korean people are, until they step onto any form of public transport. As soon as the doors open the elbows come out and people surge into the carriages while others struggle to fight their way off.

  11. There is one travel card that you can use on the bus, the subway and in taxis. You can even use it to pay for groceries in some convenience stores. Why hasn’t this caught on at home?

  12. Efficient banking. You can do pretty much everything at an ATM, transfer money home, withdraw, deposit, and pay bills. Unfortunately I only figured this one out after trying to gesture ‘send money home’ to a bemused Korean bank cashier.

  13. Couples in head to toe matching outfits. Seriously, matching baseball caps, jackets, jumpers, jeans, and shoes. There are shops that specialise in his and hers clothes. Somehow can’t see this one catching on in England.

  14. Korean boyfriends carrying their girlfriend’s handbags for them.

  15. Fashion isn’t just for the two-legged. The dogs outfits are incredible here. I’ve even seen dogs wearing shoes! It is also fairly common to see a dog sharing it’s owner’s jacket, with it’s little head peeking out of the top.

  16. The yogi-yo (call) button on the table at almost every restaurant. No more waving, head bobbing or trying to make eye contact to get the waiter’s attention, just press the button. Simple.

  17. Pot noodle is considered a proper meal. 

  18. Kimchi, you either love it or you hate it, but in Korea there’s no escaping it! It is served with every single meal, from galbi to sushi. It’s a soft, pickled cabbage in a spicy red sauce and is a source of national pride.

  19. Almost all Korean cars are just black, silver or white.

  20. Ondol (underfloor heating) comes as standard in the apartments. Perfect for those cold winter mornings!

4 comments on “20 things that still amaze me in Korea

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