Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some brief observations.

I've been inspired by one of my fellow EPIKers recent facebook posts to make a list of things I've noticed about Korea so far that while they aren't weighty enough for an entire post, merit mentioning.

1. Koreans are terrible drivers. I've ridden with several and without exception they all veer into oncoming traffic lanes, speed, cluster up at intersections and are terrible parkers. It's terrifying.

2. Korean squat toilets are everywhere. My main school only has one western toilet stall in every bathroom and my secondary school is all squat toilets. I'm not a fan.

3. Irony doesn't exist in Korea. There is no such thing as kitsch. If something is cliche it is never ironically cliche. People are terribly and embarrassingly sincere. If you want a demonstration of this I recommend watching any Korean movie.

4. Chinese food in Korea is completely vile. Maybe it's that it's only been served to me by the school cafeteria, but invariably it's been black gunky paste over rice or noodles. It looks like something you would dare someone to eat.

5. I have a lower spice tolerance then most Korean kindergartners.

6. The chopsticks are metal.

7. Korean beer is awful, and it's the only beer available. Soju, the national liquor, is like rubbing alcohol. Rice wine and bamboo wine are pretty yummy though.

8. Cars only seem to come in two colors: black and white.

9. Highschool uniforms are adorable. I would steal both the girls' AND the boys' uniforms if given the chance.

10. Boys are shy until you get them drunk. Then they are way too friendly.

11. On a related note, Koreans use the English phrase "I love you" pretty indiscriminately.

12. Everything is accessorized. Your phone, your car, your computer, your accessories... there is nothing so big or serious that you can't hang a little bobbly from it.

13. Korean pastries and bread are pretty sub-par, as one might expect from a rice-based culture. Native deserts are much less sweet then Western deserts. On the other hand, mixed drinks are 90% sugar.

14. Everyone throws up a peace sign when you take a picture. Even my 60+ year-old principal.

15. The most lowly dive bar in Korea is ten times better then a dive bar in the US. And the nice bars are outstanding.

16. Everyone is extremely generous and nice. My fellow teachers will go out of their way to help me and my co-teacher gave me the morning off this past Monday because I was in a funk. She told me to go take a nap in the nurse's office.

17. Drinking is very central to the office life and culture.

I'm running out of steam here. There are other things I can mention but I think I'll save them for a brief observations, part deux. Have a good week, everyone.


  1. I wanna see a picture of you throwing up a peace sign with your 60 year old principal.

  2. Hey, the beer isn't so bad! You just need to get used to the high formaldehyde content...