South Korea in a Nutshell

  1. The use of cute animations and animated characters everywhere – really, everything is adorable
  2. Everyone looks so well put together! Clothes, hair and posture is all on point.
  3. The contrast between the dependency on technology (the rice cooker and smartphones, etc.) and this:
  4. What is up with the plumbing in this country? Aside from the fact that many places ask you to not throw toilet paper in the bins, the water from the sink often flows right onto the floor… I’ve experienced many a wet sock.
  5. Bodily sounds are apparently not considered gross – burp and chew as loudly as you want.
  6. One of the ways that Korean culture completely opposes western culture is the ways in which their doors lock – either you turn the lock in the opposite direction, or you look for the little screw-like button.
  7. Also many front doors opens with a code… So don’t forget the code, unless you want to freeze in the harsh Korean winter.
  8. Signs, signs, and more signs – bright and colourful… EVERYWHERE!
  9. Lotte! A Japanese chain which owns just about everything here, from the funny vending machines, to the chewing gum, to the large department stores and the dystopian buildings.
  10. Those dystopian buildings though! There must be over 1000 people living in one and they each have a number on the side of them and there is often up to ten on one block… It’s like something out of Orwell’s 1984.
  11. The language is missing ‘v’ and ‘f’ sounds, as well interchanging ‘r’ and ‘l’.
  12. Allowing the kids to stay up really late – by late, I mean a 6 year old staying up past midnight!
  13. No sense of time… well in comparison to Denmark at least, which may not be saying much…
  14. You pick up a tourist map or booklet, which has a cover page in English, and the entire thing turns out to be in Korean… Why, just why?
  15. While the country isn’t the most tourist friendly, the people are extremely welcoming towards foreigners and willing to help in any way possible – they also all want to hear our opinions on South Korea.
  16. Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene! Commercial places like restaurants and stores even have x-ray steriliser cupboards to clean the metal cups… I don’t know how this works. However, in the houses, hygiene doesn’t seem to be much of a concern.
  17. Electric heating? Many houses either have electric heaters or heating in the floors.
  18. The floor heating is necessary because their entire life is spent on the floor… Which, by the way, seems to give Korean’s the most amazing posture – strong stomach muscles.
  19. Bowing – not just one-on-one, also on the TV. You see news anchors and TV-hosts bowing to the cameras at the end of each episode… I think this has become so engrained in me after the 5 weeks, that I will continue bowing every time I meet or thank anyone.
  20. K-dramas and K-pop.
  21. Patriotism and all the many army bases. Heres a picture of a bunch of flags, just to prove this point:
  22. So many young soldiers everywhere! Especially on the metro… My uneducated estimate is that we see about 10 of these guys daily. It is obligatory to join, and the length of service is often 21 months.
  23. Masculinity is a completely different concept in Korea – definitely not as rigid a concept as in the west.
  24. Age is everything! Multiple times we found that people were confused by our friendship because of the year’s difference.
  25. Adding onto the age thing – there are so many little rituals that go along with social interactions. It is easy to come off as rude in Korea – for example, you must hold your cup with both hands when a drink is being poured into it, and if you are younger you must turn aways from the crowd as you drink.
  26. Korean age is not the same as ours – you turn one as soon as you are born, and you age one year every Lunar New Years. So basically Im 21, and Louise is 22.
  27. You can’t imagine how safe this place is! Not once have I felt in any way threatened.
  28. Everybody drinks Soju – a Korean rice wine. Get the flavoured stuff – so much better, unless you like nail polish remover!
  29. Finally, these cute little jingles:

//Niamh and Louise