January is over here still January-ing (yes, it’s a thing), and I’m over here wondering what day it is and when to post. For those curious, yes, we’re still on ROM. Ryan’s unit is ROM until January 24th, at least, and we should hear some new guidance from USFK by the end of this week regarding restricted areas, etc. Spencer was contact traced for school last week but, because he’s vaccinated and tested negative, he’s back in school. So, while we sit here and do nothing, we’re reflecting about life in South Korea and what makes it so incredibly unique – and what makes us so blessed to experience this together!
10 Fun Facts About Life in South Korea
1 // There are restrooms everywhere
Forget waiting for rest stops. Korea has bathrooms everywhere. Sometimes you’ll find random pull-offs on the roads with toilets. Other times, buildings just randomly have public toilets between them; just ask for the code, and you’re good to go. Literally.
2 // Speaking of rest stops…South Korea takes rest stops to the next level
Rest stops have a little bit of everything here! From food to trinkets, produce markets, multiple cafes, and more, rest stops really have it all. We’ve eaten everything from ice cream to dalgona lattes, fried chicken, and tteokbokki.
3 // Kids and devices aren’t nearly as frowned upon
You know when you go out to a restaurant (not that we can because, you know, ROM forever) and your child isn’t having it? You pass them your phone in the US, and plenty of people judge you? Here, it’s a thing. Heck, restauranteurs have even handed us little mounts for the kids to watch a show on our phones while we enjoy!
4 // Public transit is the best
Trains, taxis, buses – you name it, South Korea has it, and they do it well. Every train we’ve taken has been clean and orderly, citizens obey requests not to prop feet everywhere, and everything is just beyond efficient. We’ve literally only ever been late when the driving is left to us.
5 // People will touch your blonde children’s hair…and give them money
We knew this might be a thing when we moved here since South Korea is a homogenous society, but it’s really a thing. Thankfully, the kids are pretty good with it, and most people actually don’t touch because of Covid, but it’s pretty common for people to take pictures of them, touch their hair, and/or give them money.
6 // Animals aren’t treated quite the same here
This has honestly been one of the hardest things for me here. Yes, it’s a bit of a blanket statement but, as a whole, not all animals are blindly cared for. Lots of pups are chained outside to guard the home 24/7, regardless of temperature, and the petite, showy dogs are much more popular here. This has been hard for my animal loving heart.
7 // Speaking of animals – wild animal cafes are a thing…but not for long
South Korea has long been known for its animal-themed cafes. You can find everything from meerkat cafes to raccoon cafes and everything in between. Recently, however, South Korea announced a ban on wild animal cafes, so current ones will be closed and no new ones will be opened. This is a massive animal rights victory for the country!
8 // Personal space isn’t really a thing here
South Korea has a population of over 51 million – all in a country the size of Indiana. A lot of people in a small space means a lot less elbow room. We’ve noticed that personal space just isn’t as much of a big deal here, and bumping into people is pretty common (without an apology). It’s just expected!
9 // You don’t say “thank you” every time a waiter brings you something
Before ROM started again, we had the opportunity to have a meal with some of our Korean friends from Sosabeol. In America, we taught the children to thank a waiter/waitress every time something is given. Here, it’s strange! You thank them, and you get on with your life. Basically, we’re the only people who keep saying “감사합니다” again and again.
10 // South Korea is beyond friendly and welcoming
Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but we’ve been treated with nothing but kindness and compassion nearly everywhere we went. If we give an inch and attempt to speak some Korean, they go a mile, and they are more than willing to help us out. While Camp Humphreys may be its own bag of cray, South Korea (and her people) are wonderful!
Did any of these facts about life in South Korea surprise you? Did any confirm your suspicions? South Korea is such a unique country, and despite the Covid-induced challenges, we are so lucky to have this experience.
Tell me – have you ever visited South Korea, or would you want to?