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 discovered after spending several months in South Korea.
1) Fruit seems to be somewhat of a luxury item. Fruit in Korea seems absurdly expensive (at least in the eyes of a Canadian). I suppose they don’t have as much free space for growing certain fruits, but it just seems like it is not as cheap as it is here in Canada. (One of the most expensive fruits? WATERMELON!)
2) Koreans eat SPAM like it’s going out of style. Why is it so popular? Well, during the war, soldiers ate a lot of canned foods, so the population ended up picking up on this SPAM trend and starting adding it to soups and other recipies. It ended up becoming somewhat of a staple, and it’s an essential in most houses now. Expect to see a lot of SPAM gift sets during important holidays, too. I know…SPAM gift sets. SIGH.
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 weird.
4) Tipping is REALLY 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 ) Always remember to remove your shoes before entering any home in Korea. This is similar in most Asian cultures, and Korea is no exception. Before entering the home, you must remove your shoes at the designated area, and go sock foot or “slip” your feet into a pair of “house shoes” (slippers).
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.