Goodbye to the land of the morning calm.

26 Feb

Korean is known as the land of the morning calm, but to me there is nothing calm about Korea. The lack of calm is what I love about it. Korea is not a destination that comes to mine as a holiday destination as it lacks natural beauty and space. There are over 50 million people squeezed into a country you can drive across in 5 hours. But what it lacks in beauty and space it makes up for in its colourful, friendly, vibrant, wacky pulse that satisfys a cultural junkys addiction.

The reason I love Korea so much is because it is such a polar opposite to New Zealand where I grew up, it’s just such a contrast. When I lived here it made me appreciate what I had taken for granted growing up in New Zealand.

Those querky little things I will remember about Korea are

  • The street food stalls with the friendly little ladies serving you up all kinds of adventurous food, some great and some that not even fear factor would dish up. 


  • The highest denomination of money is $10! You can imagine the stack of money I received when paid 2 million won($2000) a month in cash when I worked here teaching English!
  • There is a shortage of rubbish bins, or maybe there are just none when you are looking for them.
  • Smells, I think Korea is the land of smells, some pleasent like the smell of korean ladies hair as they brush past you in the subway, and some not so pleasent like the smell of piled up rubbish.


  •  It’s rude to blow your nose, but it’s fine for the old men to cough up a greeny and spit it on the side walk. (when you think about it,  it is quite disgusting that we store our boggies in our pockets).
  • There is row after row of numbered apartment buildings where people live,  “human filing cabinets”.


  •  A crowed beach takes on a whole new meaning, (I will let the photo do the talking)
  • When swimming at the beach you are not allowd to go out past a rope that is placed in shoulder deep water. When there are waves -what we call ripples, about a foot high- everybody is called out of the water. The reason for this is because a large majority (around 70%) of the population can not swim. I put this down to there being no widely accessible swimming pools, rivers, lakes etc.

A quiet public holiday at the beach!

  • Dogs are treated like dolls, they even have dog clothing stores

Korean Barbie Doll Dog

  • If it’s not dressed up, it’s eaten(I realise this is now becoming more frowned upon by more Koreans). The photo below is me out the back of a dog restaurant in the hills (obviously photo is taken 5 years ago as I look as though I’m 10 years old). It was kind of a weird feeling chowing down on dog stew inside and hearing all the barking outside, probably because your eating mother dog. Some may think this is weird, but if you think it about it, it’s not that weird, as the Hindu don’t eat cow as it is a sacred animal, Muslims don’t eat pork etc.


  • The pollution and smog I will remember, it seems that there is never a clear sky day.


  •  The 3 litre jugs of beer and the complimentary bacteria snack bowls.


  •  The signs and advertising, it seems that every available space on a building is covered in advertising – who needs windows!


  • The neon lights, Korea beats Las Vegas hands down in this department. This photo is taken outside where I use to live in Bucheon, but it is common place all over Korea, even the churches have neon crosses.


  •  The people. Every country has there share of dickheads, and Korea is no exception. There are some people that resent you as being a foreigner, and the behaviour of some foreigners justifies this. But the vast majority are inquisitive, friendly people that want to show you a great time in their country.



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