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Because it’s Korea

July 1, 2011

Most situations in South Korea can be explained by a simple and concise answer.   It explains everything and nothing at once.

This bizarre land can drive anyone a bit mad if they don’t just answer cultural questions with “Because its Korea”.  Below I’ve comprised a list of strange and peculiar things that are completely normal and acceptable on this tiny peninsula.  Just rationalize them with this simple phrase.

  • An umbrella can and sometimes MUST be used at all times, even when it isn’t raining anymore.
  • High heels are acceptable attire in all weather conditions.  Strappy heels in rain especially.
  • For a country with the busiest people, they walk the slowest.
  • The best couples buy completely matching outfits (shoes included) and wear them out on the weekends.

Matching sweaters, pants AND roller blades!

  • Windows must be opened even when it is freezing outside.  Mold growth is always possible and extremely dangerous!
  • Staring isnt rude, it’s a way of life.
  • Strange smells.
  • There will always be one friend stuck at an unexpected teacher’s dinner instead of out with everyone else.
  • An old Korean woman can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants.   Push, sit on you….whatever.
  • Taking naps at work  is a productive task.
  • A table of middle-aged men has 10 bottles of soju split between them.
  • A middle-aged man is passed out drunk on the street.
  • A middle-aged man  is passed out drunk in a subway station.


  • Kimchi can and will be eaten during every meal of the day.
  • A little sick?  An IV should do the trick!
  • The body can be tan, but the face should never be.
  • At an amusement park, the water ride wont actually get you wet and the picture will be taken at the most calm part of the ride.  (gotta be lookin’ good of course!)
  • Second graders in elementary school have cell phones.
  • Blaring loud music and choreographed dances are a completely rational and acceptable form of  shop advertisement.

  • Having no idea what is going on, ever, is normal.
  • Eating out can be cheaper than cooking at home.
  • It’s 6am and we are still out dancing.
  • I’ve got an easy job..and get paid well!
  • And of course….nothing is possible…


*the picture above was taken at my friend Simon’s school. He noticed it on his first day there.   No matter where or when in Korea, the English language will forever be butchered *

No one should think I am saying these things in a mean or spiteful way towards Korea.  In fact, I think they are all pretty funny.  If I’ve learned anything from living in a few different countries it is that you can’t take things too seriously.  Nothing is bad or worth being judgmental  over, it is just different.  I’ll usually give a country the benefit of the doubt before harshly criticizing a culture.  For example, it really does suck to be treated badly and discriminated against just for being a foreigner in Korea.  (And a few times is has mad me feel pretty down).  But in the end I understand the reason for it.  If I had lived most of my life without ever interacting with a foreigner (and if so, it only being US military) I might not have as open as a mindset either.   Overall, if I could give anyone advice before spending time in another country, it is to not take things too seriously, and always find the humor in it.  If you do, life can be pretty funny.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 13, 2011 10:06 am

    Sitting here at my desk reading this and laughing so hard that my co-teachers keep staring at me. Great post!

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