Looking On The Bright Side…
The Korea Observer recently published this article, listing the ‘Top eight reasons why expats love Korea.’ The list was as follows:
- Price of Food
- Nightlife and Music
- Mountains and Hiking
- Safety/ Lack of Crime
- Internet Technologies
- Public Transport
- Festivals and Events
You might not agree with all of these, but the list proves that there are significant advantages to living in Korea, eating out with friends is affordable and delicious, the abundance of natural scenery is stunning, and it’s pretty cool being able to leave your bag/phone unattended and not have it stolen a moment later.
There are of course, as with any country, negative things which we could focus on. But for now, let’s focus on the good things- the top eight things which expats love most about living in Korea…
Going out for meals becomes part of your social life, and one which doesn’t break the bank. Filling, hearty meals for 10,000 won and under, plus unlimited sides and water.
And then there’s lunch, grab some 2,000 won Gimbap, or pop to your local restaurant and get a whole meal for the same amount you’d spend on a sandwich if you were back home.
If you enjoy Soju or Makgeolli you’re at an advantage because you can also drink on the cheap… which is a little dangerous!
Sure, you can choose to spend a lot of money if you splurge on daily coffees, pre-made sandwiches from Paris Baguette, or eating at overpriced Western restaurants, but if you want to eat cheaply, the option is most definitely there.
Nightlife doesn’t have to mean drinking or clubbing in Korea, you don’t have to go to a bar if you want to stay out late. You can visit a cafe, or stay inside a restaurant for hours- nearly everything is open late.
Korea’s late opening hours are great, and so much more convenient than elsewhere, where cafes close in the early evening. Plus, if you’re craving food (or coffee) at the end of a wild night out, there are endless options.
There are so many beautiful nature spots in Korea, for hiking, exploring, or just relaxing. The minute you’re outside a city (or sometimes even within cities) you’re surrounded by green scenery.
There are so many wonderful national parks in Korea, but in addition to these, there are also smaller trails and woodland areas easily accessible and dotted throughout the cities. It couldn’t be easier to go for a quick hike or picnic, and it’s one of the best things about Korea.
It’s nice to be able to walk around at night-time without being scared for your safety. Not holding onto your bag for fear of being pick-pocketed. At first, it seems weird that Koreans just leave their bags and phones on the table when they go to up to a buffet, to the toilet, or to order a drink. But then, you get used to it, even find yourself doing the same.
Better snap out of that habit once you leave Korea, or you’ll probably find yourself short of a phone…
Koreans are often pretty proud when telling you about the speed of the the country’s internet connection, ‘the fastest in the world.’ And there’s no denying that it’s good, especially when you’re out and about, looking desperately for Wi-Fi- you’re almost certain to find some, and at a good speed.
- Public Transport
Ok, local blue buses might not be the easiest for foreigners to get the hang of (they are still cheap though). But in general, public transport is pretty awesome- travelling 3 hours on a luxurious bus for around 15,000 won, or taking a 2 hour bus journey into the capital city for 10,000 won- you can’t really complain.
Then there’s the subway- clean, easy to use, and with so many shops so you can go shopping at the same time. Not to mention the screens full of information and games, vending/coffee machines, and toilets everywhere.
There’s no doubt that some Koreans are somewhat wary of foreigners. But in general, Koreans are friendly, and helpful. Quite often if you ask for assistance, they’ll go above and beyond to help you out. You’ll even get Koreans approaching you before you’ve even asked for help.
Every country has festivals, but it’s true that festivals in Korea are often original and exciting for foreigners.
Lighting festivals, ice-fishing festivals, snow festivals, mud festivals, mask festivals. These events are a great chance for foreigners to experience things they wouldn’t in their home country, and on the whole, they’re well worth a visit.
There are obviously many more cool things about Korea, alongside Korea Observer’s ‘Top List’, such as…
- Convenience Stores EVERYWHERE: They’re on pretty much every corner, and sell so much good stuff: food, drink, alcohol, first-aid, even emergency underwear. Plus they have an area to cook food and make hot drinks. If you need ramen or an instant burger at 3 am- you’re sorted.
- Umbrella Protectors: Best invention to stop you having to carry a dripping wet umbrella around the shops. And, you finally have a plastic bag to carry your umbrella round in easily. Win-win.
- Socks: Cheap, and an infinite variety of patterns and designs. Socks have never been as exciting as they are in Korea. The same goes for smart phone and iPad covers.
- Food Samples: What a way to make shopping more fun, filling up on endless food samples in the supermarkets. If you go round for long enough, you can pretty much get a free lunch this way.
- Free water/ coffee/ ice lollies in restaurants: No more having to sound cheap when you ask for ‘tap water’ with your meal. And fine, the free coffee might be instant and artificial, but it’s free. Even better are the free ice lollies you sometimes get. Best thing ever.
So yes, you can spend your time moaning about Korea, but if you’re feeling negative one day, maybe focus on the positives,go out and have a delicious cheap meal, be happy that you can afford to take taxis everywhere, go to a nice festival. It’ll make you feel so much happier to be living in Korea…