5 Things America Can Learn From Korea

After my time in Korea ended, I began to miss certain aspects of daily life in the land of morning calm. While there’s no such thing as a perfect culture or country, I do believe that there are aspects of each country that come as close to perfect as a society could possibly get.

My favorite things about Korea were non-existent in my own country. These 5 are things I think America should pick up from Korea!

1. A “Group” Culture

2011 Korea-America Friendship Festival and 3rd Annual KoAm Bike FestLet me preface this by explaining I believe instituting a “group” culture would work well in moderation and not so much at the insanely high levels abound in South Korea. With that said, I do admire and miss the tight knit culture where the country acts like one giant family. All elderly people are addressed as grandmother or grandfather, and most adults treat all children as if they were their own.

I remember being astonished the first time I went on a school field trip in Korea. We had gone to the park for a picnic, and all the children had a simple lunch of rice and side dishes. The teachers, however, were spoiled with a spread of kimbap, chicken wings, fruits, and boiled eggs.

After finishing their bland lunch, some children walked over to the teachers complaining they were still hungry. What did the teachers do? They sat the children down and fed each one like a baby from their own chopsticks – even though there were plenty of extra utensils. The idea that Korea should take care of their own is so instilled that teachers treat students more like children. I loved every minute of that day in the park.

2. Calories

Calorie labels in Korea are the best! There’s no confusion or reading the back of a bottle of cola for hours trying to figure out how many calories the whole bottle has, unlike America where reading nutrition content (for me, anyway) is somewhat like playing Russian Roulette. As a kid, I didn’t know about the “serving size” on the back of American labels, so I’d always assumed an entire box of Oreo’s was like 600 calories – if only life were that kind!

In Korea, understanding an entire product’s calorie count is easy because they usually post it on the front of every bag and bottle. I always knew my banana milk was 160 kcals because it stated it in neat little black letters on the front of my bottle. Even my students understood the amount of calories they were consuming when they munched on a bag of dry ramen noodles. I think America should seriously take notes.

3. Beauty Products

A good friend recently sent me an article stating that Korean beauty products are finally making their way and catching on in the United States. All I have to say is, it’s about damn time America! Korean beauty products are the bees knees, and I will swear by them until the day I die, which by the way, when that day comes I’ll still have youthful, glowing skin because I’m going to use those Korean products even on my deathbed.

Truth be told, I’m a little sad that my secret is out because I thoroughly enjoyed the compliments of having smooth skin in America, but I’m happy that Americans will also now be sporting gorgeous porcelain skin.

4. Food

I’m talking street food and fast food here. While the food truck in America has a strong hold on young hipsters, I think if Korean food stalls were introduced in America, they would basically make the food truck obsolete for two reasons. First, Korean food stalls have so many options that are hot, quick, and delicious. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have on a cold winter night than odeng (fish cake on a stick) and a cup of fish broth.

Second reason Korean food stalls are way better is they are incredibly inexpensive. Seriously, you can get a full spread of delicious street food snacks in Korea for about 4 USD. In America, food trucks are starting to go the whole trendy and “gourmet” route, raising prices to exorbitant amounts. I’m sorry, but you want me to pay 13 dollars for a cheeseburger you cooked in the back of a truck?

Oh, it’s a special burger because you added a slice of Gouda and the tears of a phoenix so I should pay up, you say? No thanks.I’ll stick to my awesome Korean street food. K, bye.

(Love Korean street food? Take the QUIZ and find out which Korean street food best describes your personality here!)

5. Honesty

I’ve never lived in a country where I felt the people were more honest in my entire life. There were things I did in Korea that I would never dream of doing in America, like leaving my personal belongings unattended at cafes to run to the ladies’ room. Even walking down the street after a late night of soju sipping, I never once felt threatened or in danger. I loved the honest spirit about the country, and I truly wish every country could look to Korea for inspiration in this aspect, especially my own home country.

Like this article? Stay tuned for my next article, ‘5 Things Korea Can Learn From America’. 

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