Quora: What culture shocks have you experienced while visiting or living in South Korea?
Just came back from my visit, and here are some bloopers and non-bloopers that I personally have experienced:
- Jjimjilbang: Nothing prepared me for what I had experienced. I did not know anything about it, nor was I familiar what was in store until someone told me you can spend a night there for cheap. As a foreigner, it was really intimidating and awkward. Every single time I make a mistake (like forgetting to remove shoes) was like a open grenade that I had just swallowed.
- What is it with Koreans (older women especially) and their tendency to shy away whenever a foreigner such as me passes by. I have experienced this every single day. Like, say, a flyer or a coupon handler in a street labours on with their work, and then all of a sudden act like I'm invisible whenever I pass by and decide outright that I have no need for their services. It goes on without saying that this also happens with other foreigners as well.
- Staring. Head to toe creepy fucking eyes making me turn my sixth sense on. This happens mostly on the subway. One time me and a friend caught one taking photos of us with his mobile phone sneakily as if we were being followed or something.
- Spending social time with Koreans can be funny. We meet somewhere, eat at a restaurant, finish our meals, go somewhere, eat again, maybe drink -- wait, of course we drink! -- finish, go somewhere again, eat again, drink again, finish, go somewhere again and again, eat maybe, but drink definitely. At the end of the night we probably visited four or five or six different places doing exactly the same things that we did at the previous one. The reason they gave was: different place, different vibe, hopefully better.
- Food culture is absolutely top-notch. Food wastage not so much. Finding people sleeping everywhere at night wherever they could; McDonald's, Angel-in-us, Lotteria, random bench if it's not cold. Even inside a PC bang. I brought with me a folding bicycle, and cycling is the equivalent of suicide bungee jumping without a rope. It is common to see fat motorcycles crossing along with you on a pedestrian lane. Neon lights everywhere. I had met and acquaintanced some foreigners who had lived there for years on end without knowing a single word of Korean, what the?
- Bigass mobile phones and the Korean love for television. They even have antennas in their mobiles. You probably have the same Samsung model, but it wouldn't be Korean without television.
- Going to the beach and nobody swimming. Everyone is busy taking photos of the beach while I frown in dismay as I was born in a tropical country.
- The subway can be as crowded as the third level of hell.
- They have gorgeous men (surprisingly tall ones too) that look good and dress good, and I'm not even gay. Fashion is absolutely big. This was the only country I've been where I met an intimidatingly buff, non-gay dude who wanted to be a fashion designer, who can wear all white on a normal Tuesday without looking like an absolute douchebag.
- So many women. So many cute women. So many cute women I want to cuddle with. So many cute women I want to cuddle with and bring home with me. So many.
- Unfortunately it's hard to tell if they're plastic [surgery] or not. I lived right in the heart of the medical street where they do this.
- But still cute as hell.