20Mar

Of course, I can’t write an article about 10 things I hate about South Korea without balancing it out with a list of 10 things I love about South Korea! There are so many things that I adore about life in this country and that I will miss when I head back to the United States.

I’ve been in Korea for a grand total of 5 months and while some aspects have been challenging (as would any move abroad, I think), Korea is such an amazing place to live and I will always sing it’s praises and encourage anyone to move here if they’re on the fence or considering it. It has been such a life changing experience, and I’m not even halfway through!

Whether you’re coming to visit or coming to live for a period of time, I hope you love Korea just as much as I do.

1. The Cafes

I know I complained about how the cafes here don’t sell savory food in the list i wrote about things I hate about south Korea, but in reality – Korean Cafe Culture is absolutely insane and I LOVE it (I just have to remember to eat a real meal before I go to one). The cafes here are as if they were made with Instagram in mind. They’re always so aesthetically pleasing and the desserts are absolutely gorgeous. Even if coffee isn’t your thing, all the cafe’s I’ve been too have refreshing tea options as well. 

It’s a running joke that now, when I Facetime my friends, they ask me how many cafes I’m visiting that weekend instead of what my plans for the weekend are. There are so many to see and too little time! I like to justify it by calling it blog research LOL gotta find the best of the best for you all!

aesthetic looking korean cafe
korean baked goods

2. The Food

If you read my post about the time I spent wasting away in quarantine, you’ll know how apprehensive i was about Korean food. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with it prior to coming, but what I did eat in quarantine had me worried for my survival here in Korea, especially with me having to eat all the school lunches. 

In a fabulous turn of events, however, Korean food has turned into one of my favorite parts of living here. I LOVE Korean cuisine. From the infamous Korean BBQ (which really is as incredible as they all say), to Shabu Shabu (my personal favorite), to rice cakes and hotteok, Korean food just does. not. miss! I’m completely obsessed with it and am terrified for the day when I can’t find a barbecue place on every single street when I move back home.

korean bbq
korean food

3. The Honor System

Another thing about Korea that I had heard rumors about before coming but convinced myself that I would need to see it to believe would be the honor system thing they have going on here. Crime here is SO LOW; people just don’t really do bad things. They don’t take what isn’t theirs. 

One time I left my Lululemon water bottle at a bus stop for four hours, and I came back to find it sitting exactly where I left it. I can leave my laptop out in a cafe and run somewhere for food or snacks from the convenience store and come back without a single doubt that it will be right where i left it. Sometimes people leave their wallets outside the grocery store (idk why but i’ve seen them lol), their umbrellas outside the restaurant, and their shoes in the cubbies at the front of the establishments that require you to wear socks, and people just leave your stuff alone! 

Although there are always kind people wherever you go, I’ve gotten my fair share of property stolen back in the United States or in Europe, as have all of my friends! It’s just not the same anywhere else I’ve been to.

4. Movie Theaters

Okay this might be a little bit of a cheat because of course I can’t speak to all movie theaters across Korea, but the only ones I’ve ever been in have full on beds instead of chairs, or even reclining chairs, and it’s just so fabulous. 

I’m not even a movie person, but I will never say no to a movie here – the seats can be adjusted three different ways, everyone is so spread out, your butt doesn’t get sore from sitting 2.5 hours in the same spot (movies these days are so long amiright?) and I will never be able to go back.

5. Public Transportation

Okay so hear me out. I don’t know if I’ve just never lived in a big enough city, or I’ve always just been blessed enough to have a car available to me, but public transportation in South Korea is NEXT LEVEL. Between the subway, the city busses, the inter-city busses, the KTX high speed trains, and the insanely cheap domestic flights, but you can always get wherever you’re trying to go for CHEAP. A swipe on the subway costs about a dollar, as does a bus ride. 

Taxis are also something I will miss so much when I go home to America. I’ve heard stories of my friends paying 40 dollars for an uber to take them 10 minutes away- and I just revel in the fact that 40 dollars in a taxi could literally take me 3 hours away from my starting destination. 

While I miss driving back in America, I do not miss paying car insurance or the increasing prices of gas – I’ll stick with my dollar metro swipes that can take me all the way across town in about an hour. I really don’t know how I’m going to go back to the way it was before — Definitely ranks very high in the top 10 things I love about South Korea.

woman wearing mask and gracefully sitting in front of korean temple.

6. Safety

The majority of the response when I announced that I was moving to South Korea was: “Is that safe? How close will you be to North Korea? What if the two countries break out in nuclear warfare. Do they get tsunamis there? What are you going to do – Dye your hair?” 

But for real: I feel safer living here than I do back at home. I don’t know what it is about America that is so conducive to crazies but I live on an unlit street in a really old apartment building, and never once have I felt uneasy walking home in the dark. I’ve never had a strange encounter on the subway (Looking at you New York), and while people stare (I am the only natural blond in probably a 3 mile radius), everyone keeps to themselves. 

Like I said before, crime is very low, CCTV is everywhere, and I feel so safe living here.

7. Nature to City ratio

I’ve always loved nature, but I’ve always labeled myself as a city girl. The best thing about living in South Korea, and Busan in particular, is that it is the ~perfect~ ratio of city to Nature. 

I get all the perks of living in a city – the public transportation, accessible shopping, hip and trendy restaurants and cafes, the connection to all other major cities and activities, but I have countless beaches in front of me and towering mountains behind me. I could go hiking and surfing in the same day. It is IDEAL. 

Sometimes all you need is a little nature to rejuvenate you when the city becomes a little too suffocating – but on the flip side, you always need the liveliness of the city to balance out the calm and relaxation of nature. When I can get both in a day, I am a happy girl – and I can’t wait for summer to roll around to I can actually start living my best beachy life.

blonde woman with brades looking over geological formation
some mountains next to the sea

8. Convenience Stores

Although America has convenience stores on every block, one of the things I love about South Korea is how NEXT LEVEL their convenience stores are. You can buy handles of liquor, soju, a whole meal, fully cooked sweet potatoes, fried chicken, you can cook your ramen, make your iced coffee, and even eat there at the tables and chairs they usually provide. 

They have anything and everything you could ever want, and if you’re on a budget and visiting Korea, just know that you can always do one convenience store meal a day to keep the budget in check!

The guy at the convenience store I go to for coffee every day is basically my bff and gives me all the one-day-expired treats for free — and that may sound gross but who cares LOL.

9. The Fashion

I thought that I had decently good style before coming here, but it’s just like I talked about HERE, if you’re moving to Korea to teach English, to study abroad, or even just to visit for a while, don’t pack as much as you think you need. The shopping here is out of this world, and Koreans are so perpetually put together that even in your pre-planned outfits you’ll feel frazzled when you stand next to them. 

There is a plethora of areas to shop in any given city in South Korea, between boutiques, western stores, and the underground/subway shopping malls (it’s a strange concept but those 5 dollars sweaters don’t miss), you’re completely covered in the fashion department. 

One thing I love about Korean fashion is how baggy everything is. They’re not overly obsessed with showing skin or having a perfect fitted shape and it makes the fashion look so effortlessly cool and is so so comfortable. 

Also, I simply will not wake up in the morning and wear color; that’s pretty much the vibe here too and it makes shopping an absolute breeze. On the other hand – if you’re a fan of color, you might be out of luck!

Ft. me trying my very hardest to stay on par with the fashion – I promise it’s better than this but im trying my VERY HARDEST to save my money okay you can do better than me I know it.

blonde woman, wearing ICONIC clothes. Very fashionable.
woman wearing revealing, yet dignified outfit. She looks like a fashion model.

10. Health Care

And last but not least: I swore to myself that I wouldn’t make this a point on my list, as literally everyone who’s ever written a post like this does, but I recently had a run in with a horribly infected cartilage piercing that had to be surgically removed and it was so seamless and cheap that I have NO CHOICE but to add it into my list as well: the health care. 

I was initially terrified when I saw how swollen my ear was and how difficult to get out my piercing was proving to be, and I was SO SCARED to go to a doctor that didn’t really speak English. Also I had no idea how far back this was going to set me.

So you can imagine my surprise when the doctor completely cleaned out my ears, calmly removed my piercing, bandaged me up (an ear bandage?? who would’ve thought) and sent me on my way after taking no more than 25 dollars from me. 

AND THEN I went to the pharmacy to pick up the literal 48 pills this mans prescribed me, once again terrified at how much it would cost. After all, one time the pharmacy back home tried to get me to pay 800 dollars for a cream for rash, because insurance wouldn’t cover it. 

The pills cost $2.38 – and the pharmacist APOLOGIZED that they weren’t completely free. OMG. 

It’s amazing. I’ve definitely been fortunate to not realize what a struggle it can be for people in the United States, but I 100% understand now. It’s insane, and something I will have to RELUCTANTLY give up when I move back.

And that’s a wrap!

I know this mini-series started off on a little bit of a bad note – although complaining about all of the things I struggle with was all in good fun, it has definitely concluded on a good one. 

Although there are a lot of challenges that come with living here, or even visiting for the first time – and that come whenever you move or travel anywhere new and out of your comfort zone, I have found so many things to love about this place. I know I still have a solid 7 months left here but I already know I will miss all these things when I go.

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