10 Things Korea Does Better (Part 1)

During the time I’ve spent in Korea, it’s been easy to point out all the differences from my own culture back home. Whilst some differences I wouldn’t mind living another day without experiencing – like jumping out of the way of a crazy ajumma riding her motor scooter on the sidewalk – there are some things Korea does that I think are fantastic.

Judith Villareal KaraokeThis fun 2 part article is going to focus on the things Korea does better! Of course, topics like this are always a matter of opinion, so feel free to pick and choose which you agree or disagree with that I’ve decided are the best – I promise my feelings won’t get hurt. In my eyes, however, these 10 items on my list are incredible, and I’m really going to miss them all when the time comes for me to leave Korea!

1. Restaurants

You know what I hate about eating at restaurants in America? At every meal, it doesn’t matter which restaurant, the moment I fork a huge bite of my entree into my mouth my waiter will come by to ask me how everything is. It never fails. Then we go through the awkward moment of me trying to mumble through my mouth of half masticated food that yes, everything is alright. Please go away while I choke down this steak and remind myself to take smaller bites from now on in case you show up again. I don’t blame the waiters, though. I was a waitress all throughout college, and I know how demanding the restaurant business is when you’re working for tips.

That’s why I love Korean restaurants. Well, there are two main reasons actually. The first is that tipping is not customary, and sometimes even offensive. Restaurant staff get paid by their employer, and not by how well their customers were feeling the day they decided to enjoy a meal. The second is that Korean restaurants have call buttons. These awesome little bells are placed on every table for patrons to ring when they actually need a waiter. Not once in South Korea have I had to choke down a bite of BBQ because my waiter came by just to check on me. It’s awesome.

2. Cafes

If you follow my RTT articles, you’ll know how much I love cafes in Korea. In fact, I write about how wonderful Korean cafes are so often that my mom actually called me to tell me to stop drinking so much coffee at cafes in Korea because it’ll stunt my growth. She’s my number one fan, after all, so it didn’t surprise me that even she picked up on how many of my articles included cafes. (Sorry, mom. Just one more.)

Korean cafes have spoiled me and I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever be able to recover. Sure, their lack of drip coffee saddens me, but I’d trade a cup of drip coffee any day to drink an overpriced cappuccino at a Puppy Cafe!

3. Cuteness

I have a love/hate relationship with number 3. If you read my article at Chasing Glitter about How To Take The Perfect Selfie, you know just how cute Koreans can be. Often I find this cute culture adorably endearing, but (and this is a huge but) I really, truly, and utterly hate when older people don’t realize they’ve crossed that invisible age line and should no longer be acting like a cute teen.

Sometimes in Korea I see women whose children are probably around my age talking like a baby or swinging their arms like a naive school girl. While I’m all for being true to yourself and doing what you want without worrying about the judgement of others, for the love of kimchi please just do it far away from me.

4. Fan Girling

If you happen to be a child of the 90’s like myself, you probably remember the insanity that struck teen girls when boy bands like Nsync and Backstreet Boys were popular. Imagine that terrifying energy times about a billion and you’ve got a vague idea of what it’s like to live in K-Pop infested Korea. K-Pop idols reign supreme here, and Koreans from elementary school age all the way to adulthood love their pop groups. Socks, beauty products, calendars, and anything other consumer product you can think of comes with the faces of famous pop groups splashed across them. Small word of advice to those about to teach teens in Korea: nothing will anger your students or make them hate you faster than admitting you don’t know, or worse like, K-Pop.

5. School Lunch

Most expats I’ve talked to seem to be split half and half on this subject. I am a huge advocate for Korean school lunches. Maybe the expats who disagree with me haven’t worked in public schools before or maybe they don’t like Korean food, either way they’re crazy and shouldn’t be listened to. Instead, listen to me. Korean school lunches are delicious and if I ever go back to teaching public school in America, these fresh lunches will be sorely missed.

Everything from the pork cutlets to the tangy pineapple sauce in comes drenched in is homemade at my school. I’ve never once witnessed a Korean student skip lunch here because they didn’t like the food, which is more than I can say for the school meals I’d watch kids gag over in America.

If you’ve lived in Korea before, do you agree with these 5 things Korea does better? Tell us in a comment below! Don’t forget to check back here for part 2! 

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