Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ten Things I Like About Korea

Roboseyo has been talking about Jon Huer and his wonderful list of the top ten things that foreigners like about Korea. Putting a positive spin on it instead of damning Dr. Huer, Roboseyo is looking for our own lists. The things that we hold dear to our hearts when we think about this country we live in. Here's mine in no particular order....

1. Beer and barbeque.
Grilled belly pork, a bowl of dwenjang chigae and a cold beer is one of the best things about Korea. Chatting with friends, cooking your own food and leaving the restaurant smelling like charcoal and pig. An experience I could never get back home.

2. Lost and found.
So many times, friends have mine have lost or forgotten wallets, purses, umbrellas, bags, ipods and numerous other items in cafes, bars and restaurants. Yet these items do not disappear (most of the time), they remain in their location, looked after by kindly staff or strangers who return the missing objects intact. Of course my experience is subjective, but I know that compared to the UK your chances of getting back missing items here is far greater than in London.... Except for Gwangjang Market.... 

3. Everything is open all the time.
Convenience, convenience, convenience. Shops open here longer and later. Sunday may be the holy day of rest in some countries, but in Seoul I can get what I need late on Sunday night without even having to worry about early closing. Plus the joys of 24 hour convenience stores still amaze me. 

4. More festivals and special events than you can shake a stick at.
Dear god, there are too many of them. Every weekend there seems to be something going on (usually for free) and if you are so inclined then you can spend all your free time attending the most interesting and esoteric events.

5. Korean Genre Cinema.
Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho. Need I say more?

6. Food Carts, Orange Tents and Vegetable Sellers.
On my way home I can walk past fresh fruit and veg for sale at remarkably low prices. The quality is always good and the sellers are friendly. I'd much rather buy my mushrooms by the side of the road than from E-mart. Damn sight cheaper and a lot tastier. The food carts and orange tents allow us a myriad of tasty experiences as long as we don't think too hard about the lack of running water or health and safety standards.

7. Fast Internet.
It's fast, it's very fast...

8. Immediate repairs/installation.
No "wait three weeks" or "we will arrive between the hours of 6.00am and 9.00pm". If you need something fixed, delivered or installed then it can usually be done in a flash. If I have a problem, I call someone and they fix it almost immediately. No waiting, no snarky customer service and no long slide into depression.

9. 닭갈비!
Chicken, red pepper paste, rice cakes, cabbage, sweet potato. All mixed together and cooked in front of you on an iron plate. Heavenly!

10. Kangwon Province.
I've been there three or four times and the north-east coast of South Korea is my favourite place to visit. Delicious seafood, beautiful coastline, incredible mountains and amazing cultural/historical sites. 강원도의 힘!


nb said...

Is Kwangjang market the one at Chongno 5 ga? What happened there, Mr. Ajosshi?

Paul Ajosshi said...

Yes, nb, that's the one. My wife lost her purse, with a heap of money and her identity card. She thinks that she misplaced it, but who knows... There could have been wandering hands around... In any case it never emerged again. Almost every other time friends have lost something they have had it returned to them. Gwangjang market is the Bermuda Triangle of lost property reclamation.

Penny said...

Stumbled upon your site because after almost 30 years of being away from Korea, I still periodically check around for "links" to that part of my past. I LOVED LIVING IN KOREA. My list is much longer than 10 items, but one of my favorites was riding the bus and if I had to stand, someone took my heavy bags out of my hands or off my shoulder, until I reached my stop--every single time. A Korean courtesy I could get punched for here in the States for trying to offer.

nb said...

It is a pretty sketchy place, that's for certain.

Paul Ajosshi said...


You'll be glad to know that some people in Korea will still hold your heavy bags for you (not all, but still some). There are many things I like about Korea and this top ten list was a spur of the moment thing. I hope you get the chance to come back here and see how Korea has changed, it's still an incredibly interesting place.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with you on number 10. I've lived in Taebaek area, Kangwon Province for 10 of the last 13 years. I love the Donghae Harbor area for the king crab. Some of the best I've ever had and during non tourist season very reasonably priced.