Why I love South Korea
I've been living in South Korea for just over two years now. I've met many people here and some think that other countries like Japan or China are better. I mean, I can't really say much about working in those countries but I do think that those people who slam Korea, but still work here are crazy. Honestly, if you don't like where you are working (if it's not your home country), leave and move on. Don't spread malicious information, just because you don't enjoy it! Before I moved to Korea, many people had their opinions on the country without ever visiting. I've had things like "Korea is so dirty, why are you going?", "Be careful in Korea, it's not safe", "There are bad people there, you have to watch yourself", I'm worried about you going, are you sure you want to go?". Well, it's time to DEBUNK these comments. I've lived here for just over two years now, I still love it and I can honestly say that these comments have no truth to them. I left the United Kingdom when the MERS outbreak occurred in Korea. I received a comment which said that I shouldn't go and "didn't you know MERS is irreversible?". I'm not stupid, I did my research! I even did my research on the whole North Korea - South Korea malarkey. You get nowhere in life if you worry and not take the leap.
So, two years later, here are my honest views of South Korea.
1. It's clean!
So the comments I received before moving suggested that Korea was dirty. Oh! were these people wrong! Korea is the cleanest country I have ever been to. I've visited many cities here and they are all clean! Due to people's unnecessary comments before I left, I arrived thinking the place was going to be dirty. There are a lot of misconceptions about Korea and this is one of them. Korea is not dirty!! I live on the East Coast, in a city called Gangneung. Even in the capital, Seoul, the place is clean.
This photo was taken on my first night, in the centre of Seoul, amongst many restaurants. There's no litter to be seen! The air in Korea is pretty good, I have no complaints about that. However, some disagree, especially during "yellow dust" season when Korea gets air from China.
The beaches in Korea could be a bit cleaner, people tend to buy fireworks and lanterns, then leave their trash for the cleaners to pick up. Although the country is clean, there does seem to be a lack of public trash cans! I find myself carrying my trash home, or disposing it in restaurants and coffee shops.
2. It's safe!
By golly, it's the safest country I have ever been to. It's safer than the United Kingdom. I have numerous stories about safety here. The first is, I left my bag with over 50,000w (~£40) in it, in Burger King. I left it on a chair on the ground floor close to the door. I didn't notice until an hour later that I didn't have my bag. Of course by then, I worried that my money would have been stolen. Nope. I got to Burger King, my bag was still sitting on the same chair, with a couple of boys sitting next to it. Nothing was stolen!
In Korea, if you leave your phone, laptop..etc on the table whilst you go to the bathroom, it's still there when you get back. I left my bike unlocked for months outside my apartment and it never was stolen. I've even left my car unlocked by mistake in public car parks!
Korea has a lot of CCTV. If you're caught stealing, or even using a stolen phone, you'll receive severe punishments.
3. Not a lot of bad people!
Of course, there are bad people in every country, but there aren't so much in Korea. Most Koreans are nice people and they help you when you need it. The only bad people I've come across are not even Korean! I can walk the streets at 4am, drunk and I'll be okay. Nobody heckles at you either. I can't say the same for Itaewon though, the foreigner central of Seoul. Again, not Korean people!
Everything in Korea is fast. People have nicknamed it "Balli Balli Land". Balli means fast in Korean. I sent a parcel to my mother in the UK and it only took 4 days! It was just before the Korean national holiday too. I can order something on a Korean online store and it gets here the next day. The same goes for restaurants, the waiting time is low and workers like to help you in shops, to help you find things faster.
Of course, there are downsides to the fast paced life style. Driving is insane, people like to rush and cause problems when driving. I've had numerous people pull out right in front of me and not use indicators. Most people use their horns too, so as soon as the light turns green, their horn goes.
5. The Food!
The food is amazing. I love Korean food, it's a good thing I live in Korea right? Not all Korean food is spicy by the way. I mean 80% of it is, but there are some delicious non spicy food here too.
My favourite Korean food is something called Yuk Hoe (육회). It's raw beef served with a raw egg and Korean pear. I also like bossam (보쌈) and Bulgogi (불고기). All of which are not spicy!
There are some bad things about the food, most food tend to not have a lot of salt. I'm used to salty food back home. They like to make everything sweet! Honey is very popular here, so you will often find things like honey bread, honey butter flavoured foods and they put honey on their garlic bread.
When I visited Japan, the first thing I thought was "Oh my it's so salty"! When in fact it was the normal saltiness, I just wasn't used to it!
6. North Korea!
This was one of the biggest concerns amongst people when I said I was moving to Korea. Of course, the first thing people said was "North Korea or South Korea?"...I mean is that even a question? Why would I be moving to North Korea? Of course I'd be moving to the South.
Anyways, Koreans aren't worried about the North. People say that they always start things but never go through with it. However, the recent shenanigans with Trump might change things. At the moment, things are calm over here.
They even have the DMZ and designated it as a tourist spot! You can visit the DMZ and see into North Korea. You can also visit one of their infiltration tunnels.
Life is so relaxed here. I feel less stressed than I did back home, I'm more relaxed. My life here is a breeze compared to the UK. I never want to go back! Of course, for family and job reasons, I may need to go back in the future. I don't have to worry about money, or even paying rent on time as I get my apartment for free. Yes..free! It's a perk for working in Korea, apartments are provided. Usually, you would get a studio style apartment, but David and I were lucky to get a two roomed one.
Work is easy and relaxed. I teach 5 classes a day, a maximum of 30 hours a week.
Back home I would have to work just under 55 hours a week at minimum wage to be able to make the same amount of money here in Korea. Of course, in the UK, a huge amount tax would be taken out of that. So essentially, I'd be working more to get the same pay.
Hopefully, I've debunked some of the misconceptions about Korea and have shown you why I love it here. I don't plan on leaving, I love the country as I do my own. I'm hoping to stay here for a long time, if circumstances allow it.