Much to my mother’s disappointment, I went to Korea over Golden Week. Let me tell you, I was super excited, and the fact that it was sort of a secret made me all the more anxious to go. I left Tuesday night of GW for Seoul with the one and only Anya, and we stayed for about a week. Boy, was that too much time.
I’m not saying Korea wasn’t fun. Looking back, I really did enjoy it. But because we stayed in a hostel with some rather inconsiderate girls and because I don’t speak Korean, it was an interesting experience. On top of the lack of sleep and language barrier, Korea just simple is nothing like Japan. I’ve grown to love Japan, despite its quirks, and Korea just doesn’t live up (in my eyes). So with that, I would like to show you a few pictures from my trip and explain why the K and the J are so very different.
1. Japan is cleaner. I will not lie to you; I’ve seen people throw empty bottles and trash into the bushes in Japan. It happens. But to counteract that, I’ve seen many more people, including security guards, cleaning staff, and even just nice old men cleaning that trash up. In Korea, apparently, people just line the buildings with their half drunken beverages. Japan:1 Korea: 0.
2. Korea is really into its idols. Again, I’m not saying Japan doesn’t fall victim to idol syndrome as well (the number of times I’ve seen an Arashi member on an ad for something is uncountable). BUT I’m pretty sure Korea does it better. KPOP group members sell everything from pasta to skincare. They’d probably make idols sell condoms if the country wasn’t so censored. It’s honestly a little ridiculous, but who’s complaining. Not me.
3. Korea knows how to party. I’m pretty sure this kind of little “Night Festival” that was held in Myeongdong only makes the trash problem worse, but man was it fun! Dancing in what is technically a street in Seoul’s touristy shopping district was probably my favorite part of the trip. Everyone in attendance (small children and old ladies included) got down to the music spun by five DJs, and a few local dance groups used the night as practice. It was really cool see young people test out their moves in front of shop windows…and just generally check people out. Score 1 for Korea. Also, Japan sweetie, can you do more of this? Thanks.
4. Korea has palaces. Japan has the Imperial Palace where the Emperor lives, and I’m sure it’s lovely. Unfortunately, his family lives there, so it’s like the White House. Seoul, however, is home to (I think) 3 historic palaces that you can explore. This particular one is Gyeongbokgung. It’s a huge complex featuring a museum, zodiac statues, and a new fermented clay jar exhibit (YAY!). Okay, Japan has castles, so really this isn’t that cool. And Japan has freakin’ awesome World Heritage shrines and temples. I could spend a week in Kyoto alone looking at that stuff. So in this respect, I guess Korea is a little like Japan. It’s got that whole Chinese influence thing going on, ya know? Palaces are pretty beautiful though, so if this post seems overly negative, it’s not! Ten points to Gryff…Korea! Just joking, only one point.
5. OMG PDA! I didn’t realize how weird it was not seeing people sucking each other’s faces off until I thought it was weird to see people sucking each other’s faces off*. Korea, unlike Japan, is actually pretty okay with public affection. I saw couples feeding each other at Pizza Hut, walking with their arms around each other (as opposed to the popular Japanese pinkie hold), and even lovingly making out in the street. I wanted to puke. Only joking (sort of). I think I’ve gotten really used to people keeping their hands and tongues to themselves in public, so it was very bizarre to see that again. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It’s probably one of those things that I would appreciate more if I wasn’t single. *exaggerated for effect
6. Man, say “excuse me” I don’t speak Korean, so I wouldn’t know what “excuse me” was if I heard it, but when people run into you or step on your feet and say nothing, you know something’s wrong. Japanese people are some of the nicest in the world I’m sure, and Korea people are just…normal I guess. Pretty American…as in there are nice people there that will help you carry your heavy bags up stairs or direct you when you look lost, but for the most part, people just carry about their lives.
7. FOOD: It’s spicy. I prefer Mexican. Dukbokki is good with pizza. The end. Japan wins.
8. WHAT are you wearing?! Korean people, for the most part, dress nothing like KPOP stars. I saw a good hand full of people each day decked out in some pretty nice clothes, but the overwhelming majority paired their trendy tops and dresses with tennis shoes. Usually, these were New Balances. Just regular ole New Balance running shoes in bright colors. I saw this girl in what appeared to be a nice vintage dress….and tennis shoes. This is not the eighties. Those shoes aren’t even cute.
Okay, that about sums up my week in Korea. There really are some awesome things that I love, like the millions of coffee shops and good, affordable skincare products. I also didn’t mind eating at On the Border. I would like to go back to Korea some day, but I think I’ll study a bit more about it before I go next time.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and you learn from it. Korea is probably really awesome to visit from America, but I did experience a bit of weird culture shock. But then again, maybe I’m just being pessimistic lately because I’m still getting fat and it’s starting to bum me out.
Also, keep a look out for a post with photos from my trip! またね!