Like any country, Korea has its ironies and oxymoron’s. Here are a few I find particularly amusing:
- They walk around with face masks to protect them from whatever cotangent is apparently floating in the air, but are happy to drive through red lights and with their children completely unrestrained in the car.
- Women and men seem to worship at the altar of the blue-eyed blonde. Women aspire to a ‘Western’ aesthetic and advertising seems to support this. A friend here (very attractive brunette) told a story of her recent weekend in Busan where a Korean man asked to take a photo of her and a friend. When it came time to take the photo however, he pushed my friend aside and said ‘no, only with her’. You guessed it, an attractive blue eyed blonde.
- Apartment complexes are extremely strict on recycling and garbage management. Don’t even think about putting your general waste in anything other than a red bag and all recyclables have their own separate bins. BUT…..try finding a bin on the street or a beach!
- In order for your hot water system to stay, well….hot, you have to run your floor heating. Apparently the two are connected. Very confusing though when you have the air conditioning on but your feet touch a warm floor.
- They are extremely hygienic (and we were told we could eat from any street vendor with complete comfort) but try finding a tissue or hanky in anyone’s pocket. Oh no – much better to just to snort, sniff and spit.
- The ‘share of blame’ in an accident; even if you are hit by a drunk driver as you cross at a pedestrian crossing on a green signal, you’ll take at least 10% of the blame in the accident finding. I mean, after all, you should not have been on the street following the rules!
- At the petrol station, they will fill your car with a smile, allowing you to remain in the vehicle in comfort, but they won’t pack your groceries into bags. Oh no, you have to do this as fast as possible because….
- They will bow and greet you with complete grace everywhere except at the grocery checkout. Before you know it, you’ll have an irate Korean breathing down your neck and ramming your trolley because you’re not packing your groceries fast enough. And smiling doesn’t help. I’ve tried it. Many times.
- And the greatest irony of all; there is not a diet or low fat food product anywhere within sight and yet a size 10 would be considered large. The shelves are full of processed foods. We’ve all complained how so many products – like bread – taste of sugar. Is this a country whose next generation will experience the same obesity issues as other Western countries? I’ve included a few photos below to demonstrate. The first is a breakfast order for one. It fed us both with a third left on the plate. The second is one serve of pasta. Fortunately, we just happened to see a number of dishes come out whilst we contemplated our order. Just one serve for us – to share! And the third photo is of onion rings – a simple bar snack.