Quirky Korea

Every time I visit a new place, I’m bound to notice the quirks, you know those funky things that make here different from there.  And boy, oh boy, did Korea have plenty fodder for the funnies.

Before you have a look, let me just make it known that I am in no way trying to put down or insult Korean culture.  We’re not stereotyping here; we’re just making observations.  Every people group is weird in their own way, and some of those ways are just hilarious.

SPAM! Koreans love it. Not only do they eat it, they give it as gifts. I found this multi-pack in Home Plus, the Korean version of Tesco. Up close, it looks like free toilet paper with massive Spam purchase, but the photo looks more like paper towels. Well, whatever, free gift with SPAM purchase!

Remember the ramen+convenience store love I mentioned yesterday? It's not just for school girls. Forget the lunch specials at the steak house. Just grab a bowl o' noodles at 7-11. Heat, eat, and go. Oh, and there are TVs everywhere (cars, taxis, buses, subways, elevators, mobile phones). For some reason, this one is not on. Must have TV with ramen!

If you've never seen a Korean drama (aka k-drama), you're missing out. Of course if you have seen them without subtitles, then you're REALLY missing out. We found multiple restaurants with photos such as this, noting the restaurant's involvement in a particular k-drama. This is serious advertising because Koreans LOVE their k-dramas.

Vitamin Water in Seoul? Yes! But, be careful. Korea is known for their knock-offs and you might get stuck with not-exactly Vitamin Water. Some imitation brands I saw were The Red Face (The North Face), LeadSports (LeSportSac), Orion (Oreo), as well as a plethora of very good designer fakes (Gucci, Coach, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, etc).

Korean women do not like freckles, wrinkles, and sun spots. Actually, loathe, detest, and fear might be better words. We rarely saw a woman outside without a ginormous visor and gloves (unless she was going to the office). Many had face masks underneath the visor, just in case the sun decided on a sneak attack.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what these white leg cover thingies are. I mostly saw them on girls in Myeongdong who were trying to get customers in their stores. But, I also saw them on girls in Home Plus who were stocking shelves. Protection or statement?

There's a lot to be said about Korean couple culture. But, the most hilarious thing to see are the matching outfits. His and hers for just about anything imaginable.

This dude is Haechi, or Seoul's mascot. He's supposed to welcome visitors, but I think he's rather disturbing. Though you can't quite tell from this picture, he's got fangs. These haechi figures are actually quite fierce since they're supposed to be protectors. In typical Korean fashion, the haechi has been "cute-ified" and turned into a cartoon character.

Bowing is the typical, respectful gesture in Korea. But this might be taking it a bit far. The poor woman in the picture had to bow to each car that came into the hotel parking lot at Lotte World.

No, it's not a mime in bronze paint. Yes, this woman was there long enough for Doc Sci to take several pictures of her, reading a statue's book. Too bad I don't read Korean; the text must have been mesmerizing.

I don't speak Korean, but I do speak English! Maybe I should give Fun Talk a call. One of my dream jobs is to be a professional does-this-translate-well-into-English proofreader. But, then sites like this would cease to exist.

You had me at ...

Nothing like encouraging violence in the streets.

No soap dispensers, only communal soap on a stick.

And, yet, if you need to know if a bathroom stall is occupied or not, you just check the digital display...?

Girls, break out your Buns of Steel tapes and get ready for squatty potties! Almost every public bathroom had half Western toilets and half squatty potties. But hey, at least I never had to pay for the bathroom workout experience. Score!

And, on that note, we’ll conclude our two-week re-cap of my recent trip to South Korea.  Check back next week for an exciting update to Where in the World!

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