10 Random Things I Love About Korea

Galbi (grilled rib), a Korean bbq

Image via Wikipedia

I just paid off another credit card!!  WOOHOO!!!!!!

As many of you know, I originally came to teach in Korea for financial reasons because my American wages were not paying for my American education.  However, once I got here, I found life here for me to be pretty sweet.  BONUS!!  So in celebration of one more chunk of my debt gone, I decided to regale you with my random list of things I love about living here.  I’m sure there are similar lists such as this out there, but this is my personal take on life in the ROK (in no particular order).

1.  The salsa scene (you knew that was coming).  For any serious salsa dancers out there (especially on2 fiends) who haven’t been to Seoul yet, make an effort to stop in for a weekend when you can.  The dancing here is amazing and I’ve been told by many people from other Asian countries that it’s the best in Asia.

2.  Water machines everywhere!  I don’t mean bottled water that you pay for, I mean an electric machine that instantly disperses hot and cold water.  The ‘water cooler’ isn’t just in the office here folks.  It’s in restaurants, offices, schools and even salsa clubs.  Unlimited great tasting water.  Pure and simple.

3.  Public transportation.  It’s clean, it’s efficient, it’s safe and it saves me hundreds of dollars a month in car ownership expenses.  Bravo.  Between the hours of 5:30AM and 2AM I can get around without having to pay for a taxi.

4.  Korean BBQ.  Haven’t found anyone (excluding vegetarians) who does not like it.  Bite-sized pedacitos of juicy savory meat, cooked table-side, dipped in a variance of toppings like sesame oil and salt or the red stuff (whose name I do not remember).  Then, partake of the unlimited amount of #5.

5.  Side dishes.  It is customary when eating in Korean restaurants that your entrees come with an array of refillable side dishes.  Most of which I honestly don’t know what they are specifically.  There is always kimchi (it is the national pride and joy), plus usually some greens in red sauce, perhaps something mixed with mayo, onions, garlic and even tofu.

6.  Coffee shops.  They are completely franchised here with new ones popping up all over the place.  We often joke that every 3rd store is a coffee shop.  Despite being franchise-y, I like them because they are aesthetically pleasing and due to competition, they sometimes get creative on how to get the customers inside.  There are jungle themes, forest themes, urban looks, and even a cat and dog cafe where you can play with the shop’s cats and dogs, respectively, while you sip away (I have yet to go to one of those because the US health code is so ingrained in my brain, but the idea is cool for people who can’t have pets at home).

7.  Sticking out like a sore thumb.  <—Where does that saying come from anyway?  I know some people probably hate this part, but I love it.  It makes me easy to spot in a crowd when my friends try to find me, especially since I am blonde, and the store owners always remember you.  Plus although some people may stare because you are different, that only gives you free range to act ridiculous (not in a drunken college American way, but in a goofy, dance around the subway platform way).  If they are going to stare, why not give them something to watch?

8.  Well-dressed men.  Ladies, hands up if you hear me on this one.  The younger men here can look like they just walked out of a magazine.  Some are tall and thin which means those runway type clothes are made for them.  They can pull off suits, geek chic, capris and popped collars without even trying.  It’s nice to see the men put in a little effort, like male birds showing off their colorful feathers for the ladies.

9.   Cocohodo.  This lovely little pastry-esque thing is a favorite of mine.  They have entire stores dedicated to making this and the smell wafting from those stores is intoxicating.  Cocohodo is about the shape and size of a golf ball.  The outside is made of a pancake-like dough and inside is bean paste and a walnut.  Usually wrapped individually and packaged warm in a protective box.  I can’t get enough of them.  Not sure what to get me for my next birthday?  How about a box of them all for me that I don’t have to share.  😉

10.  T-Money.  This little doohicky (sometimes in the form of a credit card or a cell phone charm) is used as a prepaid system for the subways and buses.  It is so well integrated that I can transfer from a bus to a subway during one trip and it doesn’t charge me for the second leg.  On top of that, you can also use T-Money for other things like taxis and vending machines.  With automatic recharging machines and a discount in subway/bus fares, you can’t beat it.

I’m sure there are lots more, but my brain is not working well tonight.  When I think of more reasons for liking or disliking Korea, I shall pass them on.  In the meantime, TTFN and sweet dreams of debt-free days…


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1cruzdelsur
    Aug 17, 2011 @ 23:17:19

    Hola, con tus letras se puede observar bien de cerca como es la vida en Korea, es bueno leerte a la distancia, suerte amiga¡
    Un saludo grande


  2. Happily Lost
    Aug 18, 2011 @ 12:28:46

    Don’t forget the people watching!
    I totally agree with your list but being way outside of Seoul, salsa is a no go!



  3. smkelly8
    Aug 19, 2011 @ 02:16:46

    I had great students, who for the most part really wanted to learn (just 1 – 2 malingerers in a class of 30).

    I also liked the cafes there. Even the Starbucks in Korea are better than the Starbucks in the US. Go figure. There’s more space and a better vibe. Not so in and out. It’s a place to gather and linger.


    • ficklefolly
      Aug 20, 2011 @ 17:35:37

      I agree. It’s amazing how much nicer the American chains are here than they are in the US. McDonalds, Baskin Robbins, Haagan Daas, Dunkin Donuts. They have like super luxury desserts and stuff. Crazy! I only wish I could find a couple coffee shops that were a wee bit quieter for days I want to read and relax or take my laptop and write.


  4. Rajasekhar Gade
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 20:16:36

    Hi, I am searching crazy for this Cocohodo on the internet, but can’t find where their store is. Can you please direct me there ? Im in Suwon BTW.


    • Tiffani
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 01:45:07

      🙂 the place I always found it was in Bundang. Let me ask my friend who used to live in Suwon, maybe she knows a place there. Maybe I can get another name for them too, maybe coconodo was a brand name or something. I’ll keep you posted…


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