6 Things I Still Don’t Understand about Korea

Alright. Koreans and I get along for the most part. I’ve come to accept the awkwardness of blunt comments and intrusion of privacy for the most part. It just takes some getting used to. However, upon further reflection lately, I’ve compiled a list of things I cannot seem to get over, even considering the respecting-of-cultural-divides-being-important-to-my-survival-as-an-expat thing, plus the I-really-do-like-learning-about-other-cultures thing. Without further ado, some of my chief complaints and appropriate gifs to go with them.

1. Lack of public trash cans
So a few weeks ago I was enraged because I was walking down the street eating a banana and then realized that there was nowhere to throw the peel. Koreans have very, very, very few public trash cans available. I mean, “yay environment!” and all, seriously, but it has totally ruined my ability to eat on the move. And chew gum. Because there’s never anywhere to put it when it’s all out of flavor.

Trash can rage.

2. Overly ridiculous summer hiking outfits
The hiking outfits in the winter were a bit cheesy – matchy matchy, over the top with intense gloves and backpacks for a single lap around the reservoir. But summer brings out a different (or really, the same) breed of strangeness. They literally wear longsleeves and pants in 80 degree weather, along with visors and gloves to protect any square centimeter from exposure to sun. Ok, I can almost understand that being worth sweating for, but what I really still don’t understand is why it’s necessary not only to wear a long sleeve jacket in 80 degree heat, but then you throw a vest on top?


What are you wearing. What are you wearing?

3. Election nonsense
Thank the Lord almighty that today is Election Day! Now I remember how it feels to live in Ohio during a presidential election year… Except now you can’t turn off the television to avoid it. Koreans literally parade the streets in tiny box trucks advertising for their candidates’ numbers and colors, singing songs and shouting at the top of their lungs. The best thing is that come tomorrow, I no longer have to hear the shipyard’s constant booming PA system trying to say whatever it is they are saying about the elections. I need to nap, people. Priorities, please!


Is it over yet?

4. Stop standing so close to me!
This one has irked me for a while now and I am really trying but really struggling to get over it. Part of this involves people not moving out of your way (when walking in the middle of the road or just the middle of the grocery aisle) but the thing I just can’t STAND is that they invade your space at the grocery check out. I have yet to check out at a grocery store where the next customer in line isn’t already past the cashier, standing 2 inches away from me at end of the lane …waiting for her groceries to come off of the conveyor belt – BEFORE I AM EVEN DONE PAYING!!! PLEASE, there is SO much space over there, go back to your stuff! Leave me alone! #unclescrooge

Personal space rage.

5. Using flashers to “apologize” for bad driving
So if you cut someone off in traffic, it’s all okay as long you turn on your hazard lights for a few brief blinks. Driver in front of me: Oh, I’m sorry that I intentionally almost caused an accident. But, you know, just let it go. We’re still friends, right?
Me: Ummmmmm, no.
This brings me to…

hazardlights (2)

6. Using your flashers to tell everyone it’s OKAY that you have decided to park on the side of the busy street where there are clearly double yellow lines marking that this is illegal. The best part? When I went to the office last week and told the admin I had parked on the side of the road by a ton of other cars and she scolded me that it was “illegal”.

There you have it! Adjustment never ends.

More to come on Hong Kong soon. Oh, and special birthday shout out to my main squeeze J-Mar! If you’ve been following my Facebook posts, you know by now that he is on a massive week-long scavenger hunt leading up to a big milestone birthday this weekend. Exciting stories for you soon!

One response to “6 Things I Still Don’t Understand about Korea”

  1. dorette

    OH MY SHATTERED NERVES!!! All these are spot on!!! A hazard button is like their little safety “bubble”. And a red light is merely a “suggestion” to stop… you know, do it don’t do it *face palm* But great post, I can totally relate :)

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