Observations about Korea

26 02 2010

“Show me a curious kid and I will show you a successful man” ~author unknown

I am a person whose mind is curious like a child’s mind. I’d like to observe and absorb as much as I can from my surroundings and localize myself to the Korean Culture. This article is not about Korean Culture per se.. but it is more about my acute observations as to how different I find things here in Seoul as compared to my native city Mumbai.

Well here goes my list…

  1. Books – Koreans are well read people. It is a nation of readers I can say. Every time I am travelling in a subway or a bus I always see people around me with their faces buried deep inside a book or a news paper, but in Korean.
  2. Pets – Korean like heavy petting. You will find many a shop which sells puppies and food for pets. There are shops which specalize in pet care – they provide everything from clothes, accessories, toys to small pet houses. Koreans like to dress up their puppies to the T. And the puppies look very cute. Another common thing I find in many a subways is that the ajummas selling cute bunny rabbits. Mostly these ajummas are crowded by the younger college going girls who like to play with these pets.
  3. Restaurants – Korea is full of restaurants every where. Sometimes I feel that every family in Korea owns atleast one restaurant. Mostly Koreans avoid cooking at home and they tend to have their meals in a restaurant.
  4. Drinking rounds – Normally when you go out for drinking with your Korean friends, you just don’t go to one restaurant, have food, drink and go home. Here you have your meal in one restaurant, get high in some other restaurant and finally have fun by singing out loud in a norea bang (karaoke rooms). You have more than 3 rounds of drinking and normally you set out for home the next morning.
  5. Saunas – visit any sauna (in my case the Mens section) and you will find that the guys out there roam about completely naked. I was not surprised coz I had read about it earlier on various other websites. But experiencing it personally made me a bit uncomfortable in the beginning.
  6. Punctuality – be it office, college or school. You have to be on time (or rather before time) if you want to avoid being looked down by your subordinates. Being late is like a crime in Korea and it really helps for lazy people like me. No wonder Korea has been such a progressive country.
  7. Breakfast and Dinner – is normally the same in Korea. You have rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and rice for dinner too. If you don’t eat rice then it is considered as good as skipping a meal in Korea.
  8. Ajummas – are normally the middle aged women typically of our aunts / moms age. They are the most friendly and the most helpful species in Korea. You can approach them without hesitation and they will help you by going out of their way. And yes don’t be surprised if you are in crowded place like a bus, subway or a lift and an ajumma standing besides you tries to wipe off the dirt  or mend the folds of your coat. It is just how they are. Caring like our mother.
  9. Photography – surprisingly I have seen more females using (or rather flaunting) DSLR cameras as compared to guys. And Korea is one place where you should be carrying your camera with you everywhere you go. Even to work 🙂
  10. Art and Beauty – as with the youth of any other nation, Korean youth is also obsessed with beauty and looks. And frankly speaking they are the best at maintaining their looks and being fit. You will be surprised to meet so many younger looking Koreans who are actually in their thirties.  Another thing which I have commonly observed in Korea is Art. They are the best in everything from paintings, to handicrafts, to live performances, to movies, to architecture. Koreans in general are very artsy and they are highly knowledgeable about art as compared to their Indian counterpart.
  11. Guys wearing Golden Boots – and bags. It is very common to see guys who like to accessorize themselves in shiny materials and wear jackets, bags n shoes in golden fabric. And trust me it looks really cool on them.
  12. Gifts – Koreans love gifting. This is one way of showing that they really care. Be it any festival like Christmas, Valentines day, Lunar New Year etc and you will find the entire city marching around with nicely wrapped gifts in their hand. Its a part of the festivity and a delight to watch.
  13. Love Birds – I find it really amusing and cute to find many a young – college going – korean couples wearing matching jackets or T-shirt. They look very cute and I personally believe it is a very cute way of expressing your love.
  14. Lollypop – it is pretty common in Korea to see people of all ages enjoying (n savouring) a lollypop candy in their mouth.
  15. Music and Bands – mostly at public places like subway stations, parks, malls etc I see  musicians performing live and promoting their music or album. If you like their music you can buy their CD album from them over there. I have seen these musicians performing live at the Hongdae park, Euljiro il ga station and the Jonggak shopping area.
  16. Hiking – with Seoul surrounded by so many mountains, most of the koreans on weekends go out hiking. And they are so many hiking clubs which promote the same.
  17. Murses – or Male Purses / Bags. It is sometimes difficult to tell between a male purse and a female purse in Korea. Guys with murses is a common thing in Korea.
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