Likes & Dislikes

Opinions


“Before I visited, I would never have imagined thinking of South Koreans as in any sense kindred spirits. What I found, however, was that like me, South Koreans find toilet humor funny, and in souvenir shops you’ll often find little poop-shaped toys – there’s even a whole museum dedicated to the subject. South Korean toilets conscientiously play a little tune when you flush, and conceal whatever noise you make doing your business, whether it’s a number one or a number two. The flush water is even dyed a soothing color.
The Mr. Toilet Museum in Suwon, not far from Seoul, gives a funny and gives a surprisingly tasteful – given the subject matter – overview of all things toilet related (both front and back), with sculptures, photographs and installations. You can count on the pictures you take here being a big hit on Facebook!’ (K. J., 2017)


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Korea has weird standards: a celebrity can go about with her butt and breasts out, but if you take the metro in a normal, loose summer dress, they stare at you as though you were clutching a bloody knife. Anyhow, Korean celebrities stare at you on every street, from every billboard, and although I barely know a quarter of them, I still recognize someone on every corner.

Hardly anyone speaks English, and even when they do they’re reluctant to use it: even at the airport the staff spoke to me in Korean (wtf), but those brave enough to speak to us were very friendly and helpful.

When it came to food and drink, I think I tried more or less all the most important things – soju (a rice-based spirit), sikhye (a sort of rice punch) makgeolli (rice wine), tteokbokki (rice noodles in spicy tomato sauce), mochi (rice sweets), jjajangmyeon (black bean paste) , japchae (vegetable noodles) and kimbab or onigiri, which is Korean barbecue. I could even have lived for a while on the offerings of the corner shop – all sorts of rice cakes, which I love, as well as ramen and tofu which I also liked, so all the essentials. Of course, they sell sweet pastries here too, but I love the way they always give you chopsticks and a spoon for everything, and never a knife and fork.

Their palaces and temples are very beautiful, and surrounded by nature.” (2018)


South Korea - Pusan - many domestic tourists like to wear traditional dresses

South Korea - Pusan - traditional dress - Krista photo

Practicals

Transport

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South Korea - Seoul - metro - Krista photo

Food

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South Korea - kimchi

South Korea - Pusan - our lunch in the seafood market - Krista photo

South Korea - Jeonju - Tteokkalbi - k.p. photo

Public safety

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South Korea - someone played around with the police

Background

South Korea - national flag

Destination in brief

South Korea in brief

South Korea (Republic of Korea) is in the Far East region of Asia.

Its only overland neighbor is North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea). South Korea has coastlines on the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west. It is separated to the southeast from the Japanese island of Tsushima by the Korea Strait.

Size: 98,500 km² (36,691 mi²)

Population: 51,2 million (2019), so the country has a very high population density (527 persons per km2 or 1,365 persons per mi2)

South Korea is the most ethnically homogenous country in the world after North Korea.

44% of South Koreans are religious: most of them Protestant, Buddhist or Catholic.

South Koreans have perhaps the longest working hours in the world. No wonder they developed an incredible ability to fall asleep anywhere outside their working places

Capital city: Seoul

South Korea is a highly developed country. About 85% of South Koreans are middle class.

Average net monthly salary: 2,200 USD (2019)

Official currency: won (KRW)

Most frequent surnames: Kim, Lee (Yi), Park and Choi. Strangely, it is not considered proper to get married to someone with the same surname (even when there are no family relations).

Kimchi is a national obsession in South Korea. Do not imagine some sophisticated food: kimchi is in fact nothing more than fermented cabbage. Eating kimchi goes back to ancient times and there are a thousand ways to prepare (ferment) it. It often tastes disgusting to foreigners at first.

Hygiene conditions in South Korea are basically flawless. No vaccination needed. Public safety is excellent. Male foreign tourists should not insist on visiting bars where non-Koreans are openly unwelcome. Some expatriates think that the bars’ clientele unnecessarily pressure the owners, but Koreans justify this (otherwise illegal) discrimination by saying that too many foreigners behave inappropriately in bars.

70% of South Korea is mountainous. The bulk of the population lives in the metropolitan area around Seoul.

DMZ, the demilitarized zone between South Korea and hardline Communist North Korea is only 50 kilometers away from Seoul. 

Most visited tourist attractions: the famous temples, palaces, shrines of Seoul, DMZ, Gyeongju (Jeonju) with Bulguksa Temple, Busan, Seoraksan National Park (“Yosemite of Korea”), Hallyeo Maritime National Park, Jeju volcanic island with popular beaches)

Optimal timing for a tourist visit: from the middle of April to May and from September to the end of October. The winter is really cold.

South Korea is the largest market for plastic surgery per capita in the world. Reportedly around 20-30% of Korean women undergo a cosmetic procedure at least once in their lifetime. Parents often gift their daughters “double eyelid surgery” (a popular procedure on the eyelids to appear more western) for their sweet sixteen.

History

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South Korea - Pusan - sculpture about the old times - Krista photo

People

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South Korea - Pusan - pensioners - Krista photo

South Korea - dog owner - Elter photo

Seoul - metro scene - Krista photo

Attractions

The DMZ

DMZ - Joint Security Area - the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone - k.p. photo

Jeonju

Jeonju - Tom's photo

Jeonju - k.p. photo

Jeju Island

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan National Park - The Great Unification Buddha Tongil Daebul statue - k.p. photo

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