Thinking of teaching in South Korea? You may want to prepare for the strange new sights, sounds and tastes you will encounter as you arrive in this amazing culture; from new foods to funky dressing and accessories, not to mention the cool gadgets in public toilets – read on….!
#1 Couple Sets
Korean couples think it’s cute to dress identically, right down to the accessories. Apparently it’s a throw back to an earlier time when public displays of affection were forbidden. Dressing identically was a young couples way of displaying their love and adoration for each other. Today I’m pretty sure they just do it for fun!
#2 Phone Accessories
I’ve yet to see a Korean person carrying a phone that doesn’t have some sort of accessory dangling from it, be it a phone charger, subway pass, a key chain, or a stuffed animal. From adolescent girls to middle aged businessmen. It is also worth saying that the appendage is usually larger than the phone itself.
#3 Bizarre Pizza Toppings
I think most foreigners take a skeptical look at their first Korean pizza. From sweet corn to pumpkin, potatoes, yams or minced beef, the Korean motto seems to be “if it’s edible, it’s a pizza topping”. It’s also worth noting that pickles are generally substituted for garlic dipping sauce. It’s my advice to stick to the local food whilst on your Korean sabbatical as their take on all Western food can get pretty out there.
Koreans have some of the strangest approaches to weather I have ever encountered. Umbrellas come out at the slightest bit of precipitation, with every person on the street whipping out a brolley from who knows where. When the sun arrives the brolleys are out again to block the sun. Whilst most of us westerners like to sun worship, going to great lengths to get some Vitamin D, pale skin is very much in vogue with Asians. Shops sell arm protectors to keep from getting t-shirt tans and older women wear VERY large visors!
#5 Bathroom Discretion Buttons
The best has been saved for last. A favourite talking point with us ex-pats is the range of buttons featured in most public toilets. These “Discretion Buttons” are there to, well disguise the sound of you spending a penny or dropping the kids off at the pool! These disguising noises include birds tweeting, coughing noises and even opera music!
Teachers For Asia has job openings in Busan, Daegu and Seoul – check our article on Daegu at: http://www.teachersforasia.com/spotlight-on-daegu/ and watch this space for our next article, Spotlight on Seoul, which is coming shortly!