South Korea is a beautiful country with a rich culture. The age-old wisdom of Taoism lives side by side with the most advanced technology. The people here love the Western lifestyle but have nevertheless retained many customs that are poorly understood by outsiders.
We at WeGoRo have discovered much that is surprising about this country and decided to share the most unusual facts we know with you.
According to sociological surveys, every fifth woman in South Korea has had plastic surgery. Operations of this kind are considered normal here. Parents often pay for an operation for a child as a graduation present. Among the most popular operations are whitening of the skin, removing birthmarks, and changing the shape of the eyes. Men also have this kind of surgery.
For this reason, all Koreans are very thorough when it comes to dental hygiene. They clean their teeth after every meal as well as after drinking coffee, and they often carry a toothbrush around with them in their bags. In some places, you can even find free toothbrushes in bathrooms.
Many Koreans are shortsighted from a young age and wear glasses or contact lenses. This often creates the impression that they’re born with poor eyesight. Their eyesight is made worse by the fact that they study a lot and often have their gaze fixed on the screens of their devices. However, this hasn’t stopped many of them from achieving a great deal. Two-time Olympic champion Im Dong-hyun sees just 10-20% of what people with perfect vision see, yet he’s won medals for archery!
Korean women take very good care of their skin and hair and use an incomprehensibly large number of cosmetic products to achieve this. They simply don’t go outside without their makeup on. Young Koreans as a whole take care of their appearance. It’s impossible to see a man with a hairstyle that’s less than perfect. Korean cosmetics have long since become popular around the world.
Miniskirts and minishorts are almost constantly in fashion here. This item of clothing is considered normal even for business women. But it wasn’t always like this. From 1963 until 1979, under President Park Chung Hee, it was illegal to wear skirts that ended 20 cm higher than the knee. Today, these skirts are completely normal. Yet in Korea, you’ll never see a woman with revealing cleavage.
Despite the widespread stereotype, only a small number of Koreans have tried dog meat. There’s now a growing movement who refuse to eat this traditional dish. It’s especially strong among the younger generation who’ve been raised to see dogs as their companions. The state also doesn’t encourage people to eat dog meat.
For Koreans, drinking is a natural method of bonding. Every Korean knows lots of loud drinking games which are aimed at making everyone get drunk as fast as possible. They get drunk quickly but never cause trouble, and they love karaoke. The most popular drink — soju — is a strong grain- or potato-based vodka traditionally served in a green bottle.
In every Korean city, all kinds of bars, cafes, and restaurants can be found on every street. Instead of asking, “How are you?“ Koreans might say, ”Have you eaten well?" Missing a meal is tantamount to a sin. Kimchi, their most traditional dish, is made up of heavily spiced and pickled vegetables and, above all, Chinese cabbage.
In most countries, two men holding hands is seen as an overt expression that they are in a relationship. But not in South Korea. Paradoxically, whilst same-sex relationships are often treated negatively here, a man sitting on his male friend’s knees or playing with his hair is considered acceptable.
It’s believed that if you write someone’s name in red ink, that person will experience serious problems in the near future. They might even die. Some people believe that red ink drives away demons and protects the dead, but for the living it works the other way around.
Things should only be physically accepted with both hands, in order to show respect. Koreans also pay special attention to handshakes. Several years ago, Bill Gates fell afoul of local customs in this respect. When meeting the country’s president, he shook her hand whilst keeping the other in his pocket. In Korea, this is seen as a sign of extreme disregard for an individual.
Everyone here owns various gadgets (from laptops to simple cell phones), including children and homeless people. Thanks to this, you can find free WiFi practically everywhere. Smartphones have two-year contracts, which helps significantly decrease the cost of maintaining a mobile Internet connection.
South Korea is the cradle of cyber sport. At the start of the 2000s, the appearance of real-time strategy game Starcraft transformed competitive video gaming into a feature of the cultural landscape. The game’s players became real stars whom thousands of people wanted to meet. Stadiums with huge screens are used for large-scale games. Here, playing video games is a real sport that produces its own scars, traumas, and sleepless nights of training.
Absolutely all Koreans use Internet Explorer. They either don’t know about other browsers or have no interest in using them. Korean sites are designed only for Explorer: if you use a different one, the site won’t work properly. They also have their own version of Google — www.naver.com — that provides news updates and a whole range of services.
Koreans study from early in the morning until late at night, irrespective of what day of the week it is. They use their holidays to take additional courses or to study independently. Teaching is considered one of the most prestigious professions. An ordinary teacher earns around $2,500 a month, and if they work in higher educational institutions or private schools, they can earn millions of dollars a year.
By law, every man is obliged to perform 21 months of military training at the age of 28. This law is observed by all classes of society. It can be avoided only by defending the country’s honor on the international stage. For example, several South Korean footballers have been freed from serving in the army for their sporting accomplishments.
White is the national color of South Korea. The flag’s emblem symbolizes the Taoist view of the universe as one united whole. The Ying and Yang interact with each other. The trigrams in each corner also have their own meaning. Clockwise from the top, they symbolize the sky/the south/summer/the air; the Moon/the west/autumn/water; the Earth/the north/winter/soil; the Sun/the east/spring/fire.