Why I Love Korea

Panorama View of Gwangju, circa 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Korea in any medium so today, I thought I’d break down some reasons why I love Korea.

(1) I appreciate the generally more polite/respectful nature of the culture even as it applies to strangers. Even just walking into a convenience store or cafe I am greeted and treated nicely as though I am actually appreciated for coming in. It seems people actually care about the service they provide to you. Public transportation is so much cleaner, quieter, and nicer overall because of this as well.

(2) Along the same lines, I really appreciate the public transportation there. It is everywhere within a vast network with city buses, Korail, subway, and inter-city buses, and it is clean, well-run, and inexpensive. Taxis aren’t bad either, though obviously not public.

(3)  I like some Goshiwons and Goshitels. I actually stayed in a nicer Goshitel with cable tv, a shower in my room, storage, and other amenities (including some free foods) and it was only about $500 a month. It was clean, maintained, and (going back to respectfulness in the culture) quiet. I miss a simple life like that sometimes, because I got to meet new people and catch up on some personal work all while having a nice little pad to come back to.

(4) The food is incredible. I can’t name how many foods I miss from Korea. This is one of the biggest things I miss about Korea. Not only is it delicious, but also it is generally not expensive even at mid-level restaurants, and oh, by the way, no tipping so the price you see is the price you get.

(5) The history and culture. Korea has such a rich history and culture and you can see and experience it everywhere. This makes it hard to get bored of being in Korea.

(6) However, if you DO get bored or want a change of pace, you can get relatively inexpensive tickets to Japan (which you can also visit via ferry), China, Taiwan and many other interesting places without going on a long, weary, tiring flight across many time zones.

(7) The language. If you are going to learn a Asian language, you might as well start with Korean as the hangeul alphabet is relatively simple, intuitive, and logical as opposed to the insane complexity of other Asian alphabets.

(8) Safety. Like any country, Korea has crime, but it is a far safer country overall than many other countries, including the US. You can walk around dimly lit side streets of Seoul at night and feel relatively comfortable about your safety—I wouldn’t say the same for almost any large, US cities.

(9) However, if you were to be injured for any reason or at any time, you can rely on a very professional, modern, and very inexpensive healthcare system in Korea, and that applies even if you don’t have any insurance. Frankly, the prices you pay for healthcare in Korea without insurance are comparable to what you’d pay in the US WITH decent, employer provided insurance with no discernable difference in quality.

(10) I would also note that I did also appreciate the appearance of people in Korea. They clearly put effort into looking their best, staying physically healthy, and making sure they are presented in the best possible way. Korea in general is very fashionable and that can be/was slightly intimidating for a casual Westerner like myself, but I did appreciate it nonetheless.

(11) Delivery/online orders. Everyone delivers over there, without expecting tips (or even any interaction), with high quality service and blazing speed. If you order something on a Korean online service (like clothes), chances are you will receive it the very next day by default! Also, even businesses like Mcdonalds etc deliver over there, and they also mainstreamed home delivery of groceries way before it started getting popular in the US.

(12) Along those lines—and this is something I really miss considering where I live now—internet speeds are blazing fast and very inexpensive. You get some of the fastest internet speeds in your apt for only about $30/month (free if you’re at a Goshitel though).

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