Things I noticed in South Korea
In attempts to become more aware of my surroundings, I started paying very close attention to everything I see on my travels.
On my two trips to Seoul, I noticed that South Korea has a very different culture to England! These are some observations as a British tourist.
South Korea has a big food-sharing culture, so it was no surprise to me that there were couple menus at restaurants.
What did shock me was the couple clothing, couple rings (to signify dating not engagement or marriage), and couple holidays (falling on the 14th of every month) to celebrate being in a relationship. You can profess your undying love by writing on a love lock at Namsan Tower or on a love card on the roof of Ssamziegil in Insadong. Since many Korean adults still live with their parents, there are also DVD rooms and love motels so that you can get it on before dinner.
If you’re fresh out of a relationship or are pitying yourself for not being in one, it can almost feel like the whole country is constantly reminding you that you could have more fun if you were in one…
In-and-out of clubs
This was very shocking for me!
In many countries where I’ve been clubbing, even if you receive a wristband or a stamp, once you're in you’re in, and if you leave you’re out. However, in Hongdae, people were floating in and out of clubs, collecting wristbands, buying alcohol and food and cigarettes at the convenience store next door, and popping back into the club to pee!
I was incredibly confused by the sheer number of men in army uniforms roaming the streets. For me, they were more intimidating than police!
I understand that all Korean men must complete two years of army service, but if you know why so many wear their uniform on their days off when they return home then please let me know!
People checking themselves out
Not to say that Koreans are vain, but South Korea is well-known for its top-tier skin-care, trendy fashion and abundance of plastic surgery clinics. Generally speaking, both men and women take care of themselves; people look good, and I just noticed that many were making sure of it.
On the topic of appearance, I noticed that young Korean men are surprisingly tall!
Or at least taller than my expectations.
I’ve heard that this may be because of the increase in milk consumption in Asia, ooooor thanks to shoe inserts.
I had seen wooden and plastic chopsticks in England and Japan, but metal chopsticks were a first! They are thinner and, surprisingly, took a little time getting used to, but they are quite aesthetically pleasing and make for quirky souvenirs.
The elbow touch
I realised that bowing was an Asian thing the first time I went to China and Japan. However, on top of bowing, Koreans tend to lightly touch their elbow or put their hand on their chest when giving and receiving anything with one hand.
I heard that in the past, this gesture held back the long sleeves of the hanbok (traditional attire).
Masks in general aren’t a thing in England.
Well, unless you’re a dentist.
Though I grew fond of white masks when I caught colds in Japan, Korean masks are often black, which appear more cool and fashionable.
Read about this one in my blog post about the ONE thing I CAN’T STAND about South Korea.
If you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Seoul, keep an eye out and see how many of these things you notice!