South Korea is many things to many people. For the fans of k-pop and k-drama, this is the country where the Hallyu wave was born. For the techies, South Korea is where the latest styles in smartphones and other gadgets are available from Samsung and LG. The country is also broadband connected at 100mb. For the car enthusiasts, there’s Kia, Hyundai and Daewoo. For those interested in sea and air transport, South Korea has got Hanjin Shipping, one of the biggest in the world and Korean Air.
For people looking for peace and serenity, South Korea has numerous Buddhist temples. The history enthusiasts will have a grand time touring and exploring South Korea’s well-preserved historical sites, with grand palaces and tumuli from the Joseon era sitting majestically amid Seoul’s skyscrapers and mountain parks.
Health buffs would know that South Korea’s ginseng is one of the finest and that kimchi is one of the five healthiest foods in the world. South Korea is recognized for its fashion as well, with Seoul having several shopping districts, segregated into luxury and fashionable, vintage and indie and wholesale, to describe the shopping areas of Myeongdong, Cheongdamdong, Hongdae, and Namdaemun and Dongdaemun, respectively. The seafood products of Busan and Jeju (as well as its tangy unshiu oranges) are widely known.
There’s a lot to see and do in South Korea and numerous articles are available describing and listing all the places of interest and the fun things to do in the country. The mountainous plateau has numerous natural landscapes, lush forests and mountains famous for its changing foliage and colour according to the season.
So what else is there in South Korea? I’d say a lot more and some of these are little known. Let’s take a look.
- South Korea practices crime reenactments where suspects are brought to the scene of the crime and are asked to reenact the crime allegedly committed, with the media invited. It’s humiliating but true. Public opinion ranks highly in South Korea.
- South Koreans are also very conscious about beauty and men are not strangers to cosmetics. In fact they could be called obsessed, with industry figures showing that South Korean men spend about $900 million each year on makeup alone. Popular items include eye creams, anti-ageing moisturisers, facial cleansers and BB cream foundation. The job market in South Korea is highly competitive and young men use make up to make a good impression.
- South Koreans has a different take on celebrating Valentine’s Day. In the country, it is the women that give gifts and chocolates to the men on February 14, which must be reciprocated by the males, come White Day, March 14. This is an expensive exercise as the males are expected to spend thrice the amount the females spent and of course, most of the gifts should be in the colour white. April 14 is called Black Day, as this is the day when singles mourn their not having a love life, often times eating a symbolic meal, jjajangmyeon or black bean noodles.
- Although it is not always polite to ask someone about his or her age, this matters to South Koreans and in all probability you will be asked how old you are if you meet some of them. In South Korea a child is already a year old at birth and even if you have not yet celebrated your birthday, you automatically gain another year after the New Year. Best approach is to just tell them what year you were born when asked and let them figure out your age the Korean way.
- While those in the East and the West normally look at your personality by your Eastern (Chinese) or Western astrology signs, South Koreans determine your personality by your blood type. So if you’re Type A, you are punctual, loyal and conservative but also introverted, uptight and obsessive. Type B people are creative and passionate but are also impatient, lazy, and willing to cheat on their partners. On the other hand, Type AB is always under control and cool but is also judgmental, harsh and an elitist. A person with Type O blood group is athletic and ambitious as well as egotistical and pompous although deemed loyal when he finally decides to commit to a serious relationship.
One other thing that stands out among South Koreans is the fact that they write and speak just one language, Hangul. This is the thing that binds them together, and not to forget, their love of SPAM, not the bad kind but the canned good!