10 Fun Facts – South Korea

Interested to learn some fun facts about South Korea?

Well, look no further, you’ve come to the right place!

These are just a few of the strange, fascinating things I have discovered since first arriving in Korea.


1. Fruit is a luxury item. Fruit in Korea is already absurdly expensive, but especially due to the high levels of rain as of late, it’s costing Koreans even more than normal.

(CORRECTION: A lot of comments on this post confirmed that fruit isn’t all that expensive in Korea. All of those people would be right, because Korea has a variety of different climates that are perfect for growing fruits of all kinds. I think I should correct myself and note that the expensive fruit I probably saw, was likely in HUGE gift boxes. Koreans love to buy luxury fruit boxes (persimmons, pears, etc) to give as gifts when visiting close friends or family.)

2. Koreans eat SPAM like it’s going out of style. Why is it so popular? Well, during the war, soldiers were supplied with a lot of canned foods, so they ended up creating something we know now as 부대찌개 (Military Stew), which has water and spices as broth, with all of the various canned foods and vegetables boiled together to make a hearty feast. The population ended up picking up on the SPAM after this creation and starting adding it to other soups and recipes. It ended up becoming somewhat of a staple, and is now essential in most homes. Expect to see a lot of SPAM gift sets during important holidays, too. It’s a strange sight, but a common one in Korea.

3. Koreans LOVE 고구마 (sweet potato) and sweet potato-flavoured things. Just to give you an idea, here are a few varities of sweet potato snacks, desserts and main courses. Deep fried sweet potato, sweet potato cake, sweet potato crackers, sweet potato chips, sweet potato bread, sweet potato latte, sweet potato salad, sweet potato pizza. You get the idea? Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not knocking it. I actually happen to love all of the Korean sweet potato creations… except the latte – that’s just gross.

4. Tipping is not required in Korea. If you tip a server or the owner of a restaurant, they are more likely to chase you down the street with your change, than to think that you left it behind for them as a token of your appreciation.

5. Stores, shops and services are open considerably later than in North America. Most stores are open until at least 10:30 or 11:00 pm. Restaurants, Bars, Cafes and Street Food vendors stay open even later. Koreans LOVE drinking until all hours of the night, so there is ALWAYS a place to grab a bite to eat if you’re craving something delicious at 3 or 4 am.

6. Drinking in Public is one-hundred percent legal. You’re allowed to sit in the park, by the river, on a University campus and have a few drinks and some snacks with friends. Don’t think you’re being a rebel, though, a lot of other people indulge in this, as well.

7. Public Transit is clean, fast and extremely affordable. In Korea, you have the option to take the subway, a bus or even the KTX train to help you arrive to your destination in a quick, timely manner. At about 1000 won per ride ($1.00 Canadian), it’s common to see most people taking advantage of the cost-efficient, organized public transit system in South Korea.

8. Most homes in Korea are equipped with heated floors. An ondol, in Korean traditional architecture, is underfloor heatingwhich uses direct heat transfer from wood smoke to the underside of a thick masonry floor. The more modern versions of ondol floors are heated by circulating hot water from water heaters, or an electrical heating system of dielectric heating or induction heating.

9. The number “4” is extremely unlucky. For this reason, if you’re giving someone a gift, be sure it is not in a multiple of 4. Also, most buildings in Korea do not have a 4th floor.

10. Avoid using red ink. Writing someone’s name in red ink basically means they’re going to die, or that they’re already dead. You should also avoid writing a note or letter in red ink, as it does not send a friendly message to the recipient of said note.


50 thoughts on “10 Fun Facts – South Korea

  1. HaHa there are so interesting. I liked it. you figured out so manythings, even though you didn’t live there for a long time. haha. Ah andrew, if you wanna buy fruits at good price, you should go big market, and expecially water mellons are cheap in summer. haha you can buy nice one for 12000 won. ah! I wanna add one thing. Korean like Rock Paper sissor so much! aren’t they? haha

    • Hi guys Im a 12 year old Korean boy and I appreciate every one of you for leaving such a nice comment. Also, Neil, you’re correct. Koreans do love rock, paper, scissor. I like you guys!

      • Thank you! >.< Your blog really helped! I am doing a report on Korea in school and there was a lot of helpful things in here!! 🙂

    • I’m a Korean, and some of those facts are incorrect. Just to point out one, fruit isn’t much of a luxury in South Korea. Maybe in North Korea, it is. If you visited South Korea, you must have visited during the heavy summer rain period called ‘jangma’. Usually, fruits aren’t that expensive in South Korea.

  2. Ur blog is so intresting. Its help me 2 know more about korea but i was little shoked that watermelon is favourite fruit of their^_^

  3. kkkkk. I learned a lot of things today. I cannot imagine myself buying fruits in South Korea. In my country fruits are quite cheap and sometimes for free. Just ask some from the neighborhoods. A lot of fruit plantations here in the Philippines. Watermelon costs only a dollar and it’s like an ordinary fruit, not that popular to all.

  4. Haha, I totally agree with you. You even have here some things I have never thought of as strange because in my mind, those were obviously normal to a native like me. I really enjoyed your post. Koreans do love sweet potatoes!

    • I’m so glad you agree!
      Now these things seem pretty normal to me after living in South Korea for a while, but before, they were quite new and strange! Koreans really do love Sweet Potato – and it makes sense! It’s so healthy and delicious. I love it, too. 🙂

      • Hi, I’ve visited your post again.
        I’m making a powerpoint about South Korea to present in an international club.
        Because your post was so good, I remembered and wanted to include several things you had here. Do you mind if I did?

      • Of course! Please feel free to use whatever information you would like! 🙂 I’m glad you found my information helpful! What are you going to talk about in your presentation? I’m so curious to hear! 🙂

        Good luck and I hope everyone loves it! 🙂

  5. Why nothing about starcraft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • As soon as I saw that comment, I was reminded of dear, dear, (evil) Kyuhyun. Heh heh… Are you SuJu fan? I’m a total ELF. And a ShaWol. 😀

  6. Pingback: Thinking of teaching English in South Korea? « Korea Korea

  7. Ummm.. I’m Kinda confussed if 4 is a unlucky number what if a baby if 4 years old does that count as well ??

  8. hi i am an indian living in south korea.congrates u have wrote a lot abt korea.i want to add something i.e. the honesty and helpfullness of koreans.they love their duty and country.nodoubt fruits r costly here .kimchi is life of koreans. thanks

    • As an English teacher (who works at a British international school in Moscow) this will help me in organising an activity for International Day in October. Many of my students are from South Korea, and even though the school’s ethos is to promote and foster internationalism, Korean students can often be overlooked (by their peers) and made to feel isolated in a school that predominately consists of Western/Eastern European children.

      • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Whittaker.
        I am both flattered and excited to hear that you will use my post as inspiration to design and organize an activity to help the Korean students feel more included. I haven’t been updating this blog as often as I should, but after noticing that my writing is interesting enough for others to share or use, I feel like now is the right time to get back into the swing of things! 🙂

    • Not always, but you will notice that a lot of buildings don’t have a fourth floor. It’s mostly based on superstition, just like a lot of buildings here in Canada don’t have a 13th floor, and if they do, a lot of people would never want to live on that floor. 😛

  9. I am korean and I think first one is quite weird to me. I’ve been to many europe countries and UK and price of fruit was quite similar.
    And 30, 000Won for watermelon?
    Well, wow I can find watermelon less than 20000won from many supermarket and mall.
    U might think it is still expensive though.

    • Haha, yeah! I’m from Canada, and our fruit is a lot cheaper here than it was in Korea when I was living there.
      Maybe the price of watermelon has gone down in price since I lived in Seoul in 2010! I think fruit prices are also pretty high in UK and in most European countries. 🙂 I miss Korean 배, 감 and 포도 sooooo much, though. Now those fruits are a lot more expensive in Canada! Haha. 🙂

  10. Whoa… There are really interesting. I want to translate it in my language (Vietnamese) and share it to my friend (they really love Korea), can you agree?

    Thank you ^^~

  11. Pingback: Interesting/funny facts about South Korea | ancamaria26

  12. Hello. Im korean

    So i wanna give you more exact imformations.

    At first, fruits are not luxury items. A Watermellon is about 10 dollors. And watermellons are really big so cheap considering their sizes. At reference watermellon is about 5kg.

    The reason spams are famous for gifts is just because company give spams to workers.

    Spam is made in CJ company and CJ is a really really big company and have really many workers. At reference CJ is a unit of SAMSUNG. So most korean workers work in company like that, and receive gifts that exist like spam from their company in certain days like christmas and received workers are about more than hundreds of thousands. So foreginer may thinked those situations are certain cultures they cant understand.

    The reason 4 is seen unlucky number is korean speak 4 to “사(sa)” and chinise word 死 is same speak too.

    死 means “death” so in like hospital, people dont use 4 but instead use “F” and except that like hospital, 4 is the number you can use easily

    Finally using red ink have no problems. I haven ever heard about rumors of using red inks.

    I think its maybe old culture or not exist. Nowdays you can red ink to your friends in korea ㅋㅋㅋ

    Because i cant speak english well, you may dont know what i said. Sorry

    If you wanna know more about korea
    i ll practice to give you more informations.

  13. I love Korea and would love to learn the language. Would you consider it a hard language to learn? All of these facts were so cool! i can’t believe 4 is unlucky, its my favorite number.

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  15. I’m a Korean that was born in the US, and the spam thing is totally true. All the korean supermarkets in the US sell it like it’s from their country, and I have them at home all the time. One thing, though, I guess I’m a rebel cuz I don’t care if I write my name in red. 🙂 My mom hates it tho…. And fruits aren’t usually that expensive in Korea. Also, I think you should also add the fact that Korea owns so many successful companies that most Americans wouldn’t know, like Hyundai, Samsung, LG, Kia, etc. BTW, I LOVED THIS!

    • I’m glad you liked it! It’s been so long since I last blogged, and I’m currently in the process of deciding what step I want to take next. Blogging about my experiences as an exchange student in Korea was what I really loved talking about, but my life has changed a lot since then. I guess I just need to start writing again and just see what happens! Thanks for the awesome feedback, I’ll keep the idea about the ever-growing success of Korean companies in mind when I’m prepping for my future posts!

      Also funny when people confirm the fact about SPAM. Korean’s are crazy about it, and that’s something that hasn’t (and probably will never) change! Haha. It’s one of the best gifts you can bring to someone’s house for holidays, as you likely already know. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of eating SPAM when I first got to Korea, but it tastes really good when you eat it in 라면 and 부대찌개!

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