5 Reasons I Don’t Like Living in Korea

5 Reasons I Don’t Like Living in Korea

I don’t like living in Korea. There, I said it. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never really been able to feel comfortable here. I moved here without much expectation other than knowing that I would be able to save up a decent amount of money to put toward my dream of traveling – a goal I’ve been able to accomplish.

Some aspects of Korea will always hold a special place in my heart as this is somewhere I’ve called home for two years. In all honesty, living in Korea has changed my life for the better – it’s a place that has enabled me to grow and learn about myself more than I thought possible. This isn’t to say that I do not appreciate some aspects of Korean culture; this country is just somewhere that I couldn’t possibly imagine living long-term. If you’re reading this and getting mentally defensive, understand that this isn’t meant to be a dig at the country or its culture, but rather an account of my experience in Korea.

I don't like living in Korea

HALP.

Disclaimer: By no means do I hold America on any higher of a platform than Korea. There are things America does better than Korea and there are things Korea does better than America. I have met some wonderful people here. I value honesty in all facets of my life, which is why I’m writing this opinion piece.

Okay, so I’ve admitted I don’t like living in Korea. Why is that?

There are several cultural norms that I’ve had difficulty connecting with. Am I closed minded? I don’t think so, but that’s for you to decide. There are just some things that have grated on me over time and have tainted my opinions of Korea. In no particular order, here are some of the primary reasons I don’t like living in Korea:

1. Korea’s vain culture

This aspect has to be the number one thing that digs at me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the occasional selfie, but Koreans take it to the next level. It’s not uncommon to sit in a coffee shop next to a table of adult women staring into their front-facing cameras, moving the device around to various angles for long periods of time. The goofiest part is the fact that they aren’t always taking photographs – they’re sometimes just staring at themselves in silence for minutes on end. My mom put it best when she came to visit and said, “I don’t know who they’re staring at more: me or themselves.”

Everything you do in this country depends on how you look. If you meet your new students’ mothers, they’ll tell you how big your eyes are and how small your face is. If you’re like me and don’t like to wear makeup that often, your boss and Korean colleagues will constantly remind you that you’re looking sick or tired. This isn’t Korea’s fault, it’s just the way of life here. Most people in this society are under a lot of pressure and vanity conquers all.

I don't like living in Korea

This is the same person.

Covered in mirrors, just walking through the cities makes it easy for people of all backgrounds to not feel good enough. Seoul, Korea is internationally known as the plastic surgery capital of the world – and not in a good way. It is estimated that one in five Korean women have had some sort of plastic surgical procedure, which grosses me out and breaks my heart at the same time. A certain image is desired so strongly that it’s almost as though people here are trying to delete their Korean identities when they fail to recognize their natural beauty. While people are certainly image obsessed in America, it’s a bit more of a taboo subject compared to Korea. It doesn’t help that I’m in the heart of it all: My apartment is in Apgujeong, the country’s plastic surgery hub. No thanks.

2. Korea’s stress culture

Korea’s known for its…intensity. Starting at a young age, many children are forced into this hurried culture and there’s no turning back. A lot of kids are made to study at what I refer to as pressure-cooker academies, more commonly known as hagwons. They’re raised to study multiple hours a day at cram schools of all kinds: art, English, math, science – you name it.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Korea’s Constitutional Court mandated that hagwons within Seoul and Busan must close at 10 p.m. Prior to the ordinances, private academies stayed open until as early as 3 a.m. There are ways of getting around these laws, however. Have building, will study, if you will. After studying for nearly their entire day, high school students often find themselves in private, rented out study rooms which are allowed to be occupied all night. While the kindergarten I work for is certainly not a cram school, knowing that I’m in some way perpetuating this sort of culture for the sake of a larger paycheck is – to me – morally corrupt.

If you’re interested in watching the typical day in the life of a Korean teenager, check out this 20 minute documentary by Judy Suh, aptly titled ExamiNation.

 

Once they grow up and out of the hagwon life, adults are expected to work long, grueling hours, often unable to escape the stress that’s been placed upon them their entire lives. It all seems fruitless though, as Korea has the worst productivity rates in the world.

3. Korea’s lack of individuality

Korea is certainly what’s known as a collectivist culture. What this means is that Korean nationalists generally put families and what’s best for the community before their own needs – amazing, right? Sort of. In order to achieve this type of mentality, people often sacrifice their critical thinking stills or personal desires. Rather than questioning something, people here often mindlessly swim with the other fish because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do.

I recently asked my co-teacher why Korean people wear top of the line hiking gear or dress similarly on a day to day basis and she gave me a simple explanation:

“People like to wear the fancy clothes so other people don’t think they are from the countryside.”

After hearing this, I couldn’t help but be brought back to my elementary school days. I grew up attending Catholic school, which meant I had to wear a uniform. One of the popular kids in 8th grade purchased khaki pants at American Eagle, which trickled down the line. Before I knew it, my mom was taking me to the mall to purchase the pants so I could look “cool.” I eventually grew out of that ideology once I entered middle school when I began to find my own identity – something I’m forever grateful to my country for encouraging.

This isn’t to say young Koreans aren’t branching out and speaking for themselves, but it certainly isn’t the norm. This mentality applies to all facets of life. I can’t imagine it’s super easy for creatives to thrive here and it’s one of the primary reasons I don’t like living in Korea.

4. Korea can be highly discriminatory

Koreans tend to believe their race and nation is superior to others. With that said, a lot of people here take what they call their “tanil minjok” (단일 민족), or “pure-blooded racial community,” very seriously. Despite the fact that the country has seen a large amount of immigration since the Korean War, some people here still find difficulty with “foreigners.”

I don't like living in Korea

A Korean news program.

I get it. It happens in my own country, too. Some people mindlessly despise those from Mexico or cast a generalization upon every human being from the Middle Eastern region of the world. Why? Because racism exists literally everywhere. The only difference is that American children weren’t taught as recently as 15 years ago that they are the “master race.” Yes, that’s a thing in Korea and it’s very real. A woman in a jimjilbang once openly talked about how my friends and I were “ruining the purity of the water” whilst we were sitting in a sauna – something I wouldn’t have known had I not been with a fluent Korean speaker. Whatever, lady.

I don't like living in Korea

A Korean television show.

A common issue for non-Koreans is being denied cab service. I can’t begin to count how many times a cab driver has slowed down, saw my face, and continued to drive away. This is such an issue that the Korean government mandated a “three-strikes” law for Korean cab drivers who deny service to foreigners. The law came into effect on January 29 and will be a game changer for those living here.

If you’ve ever attended public events here, I’m sure you’ve noticed that many have closed off sections for non-Koreans and Koreans. This isn’t unique to events; it has been attempted in public spaces as well.

In May 2015, the Korean government announced that it had plans to segregate Busan’s famous Haeundae Beach into several sections: a “China Zone,” a “Kid Zone” and a section of beach 50 meters away from the “Korean Zone” labeled the “Foreigner Zone.” When the government experienced a lot of public backlash (imagine that), it refuted claims, alleging the original terms to have been “misunderstood.” Right.

I don't like living in Korea

 

If you’re keen to watch, below is a Korean woman’s opinion on why some people don’t approve of foreigners.

 

5. Korea cultivates childish behavior

Imagine you’re out for the evening with your significant other or friends. You’re walking down the street and you see a purse flying through the sky and watch as it lands on the ground. You look up to see an adult woman standing, fists clenched with a pout on her face while stomping her feet. You watch a man walk solemnly walk over to the woman. The woman stomps her feet a few more times, curtly turns around and walks away. You continue to watch as the poor guy – TOTALLY DEFEATED – picks up the purse and hurries toward her.

This isn’t a scene from a K-Drama. This is a real life situation that took place on the streets of Itaewon.

From a very young age, Koreans expect to be coddled. Dating here is often based on extremely superficial factors (reference the first bullet point of this post) and the relationships seem a bit reminiscent of my middle school days. With that said, it’s very acceptable and culturally welcomed for adults to throw temper tantrums in public spaces as well as in private.

The term for it is called “aegyo,” which was largely popularized by Kpop. Often described as something a woman “uses to get what she wants,” these whiney mini-tantrums are bizarre and when I encounter them in public I feel like I never left my kindergarten classroom. Like a child begging for a piece of candy, Korean women who play this game rely solely on those in power – a man or their parents – until they can be awarded the item they’re crying over. If they’re denied, the tantrum will most likely escalate and continue until the adult in the relationship gives in. Weirded out by this? Me too.

On the contrary, older women in Korea are absolutely incredible and resilient. They are hard working and climb mountains well into their elderly years. They’re tough, they’ve experienced immense changes and they’re fearless. I view this “aegyo” communication as a direct slap in the face to all the Korean women who worked so hard in the past and continue to do so to this day.

While there are a few more reasons that I never felt comfortable in the country, these are the primary examples. I guess it doesn’t help that I caught a man filming and/or taking photos of me while I was sleeping – a situation all too common in Korea. While I’ve highlighted some of the horrors of living in Korea above, it wasn’t always that bad. If you’re interested in a more positive posts, I’ve written about a few topics such as 3 reasons I like living in Korea, the quirks I’ve developed living in Korea as well as the kindness of Koreans. Thanks for reading!

I don't like living in Korea

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142 Comments

  1. January 29, 2016 / 11:36 am

    I am moving to Seoul next month and I’m already so nervous. I’m dreading people pointing out that I’m overweight all the time! 🙁

    • January 29, 2016 / 12:19 pm

      You’re lovely. They won’t stare at you for being overweight, but more because you have blond hair which they are very intrigued by as it’s not very common. There are great aspects of Korea, but I’ve just mentally overstayed my welcome for two years too long. The culture certainly isn’t for me that’s for sure!

      • January 29, 2016 / 4:15 pm

        Where are you based? If you’re in Seoul, we should go for a coffee or something!

        • January 29, 2016 / 4:36 pm

          I’m in Gangnam! When do you get here? I’ll be leaving March 2.

          • January 30, 2016 / 5:54 pm

            I’ll be in Mok-dong! I think I’m going to be arriving before the 25th so if you’re around, let me know 🙂

    • Kevin Chon
      July 18, 2017 / 11:44 pm

      To put it bluntly, Korea is heaven if you’re beautiful and can speak some Korean. If you’re beautiful, speak Korean, and white you will be treated like a celebrity. If you’re not you’ll have quite a different experience.. But either way, I think you need tough skin to be able to survive all the stares.

      • Max Jordan
        August 10, 2017 / 12:44 pm

        As a manhattan guy i can take any hit you throw at me. I have been to korean and even though i look korean, i don’t speak it at all. My americano accent throws them off. korea is not bad . You got to adapt and go with the flow!!

    • Mark Holmes
      September 2, 2017 / 3:48 am

      “Americans not welcome” ” No Foreigner allowed” fuck these ungrateful fish head sucking bastards! My father was killed fighting for your freedom! We have 70.000 USA troops away from home , ready to die and kill for Korea. Trump must let the country FALL to Kim young Ill.

      • Jonathan
        September 29, 2017 / 10:22 pm

        Mark Holmes….you’re a ignorant moron…but what do you expect from a trump supporter

      • God
        September 30, 2017 / 2:07 am

        Just so you know. Many US soldiers are know for raping the women in Korea amd that’s why they don’t like the soldiers.

      • None of your business
        December 5, 2017 / 7:24 pm

        You serious? I never read a more racist comment before. Hate to break it to you, but Americans thought the same way somewhere in history. And boohoo hoo USA troops died for South-Korea boo hoo hoo. It’s not just for south-korea, they defend more countries than that. My dad is also in the army but do you see me whine? NO you don’t. American soldiers also killed, raped, robbed, … korean people. Let’s not forget that South-Korea has been a closed of country untill a century or something ago. and btw, It’s Kim Jong Un not Ill. Ill is his father who died, Un is now in charge. (I get triggered when I see racists, sorry)

      • Paul Cutts
        December 15, 2017 / 3:17 am

        Clearly a typical Trump head their own ass supporter!
        Forget the truth and what has happened to make Koreans feel this way. Having seen it for myself what goes on, I cant say I am surprised why they feel this way. Americans are welcome but many are skeptical of them and their motives. Unfortunately far to many bad eggs feel its their god given right to treat people poorly out there. Just because you a fighting for freedom it does not give you a free pass to do as you like!

        • Kbop
          January 19, 2018 / 7:30 am

          I support Trump, but I am not that racist. The media mainly puts bad things of Trump. He’s really not that bad and he’s actually quite funny.

        • The Unvarnished Truth
          January 21, 2018 / 7:32 pm

          Every time in history that you have foreign troops stationed in a country there are sometimes rape incidents. It’s not just American soldiers. Who are the REAL “racists” here?

  2. January 29, 2016 / 12:44 pm

    I found this post very interesting, thank-you. I think the vanity would wind me up too. I hate the whole selfie thing here too! Acting like a baby and stress culture probably wouldn’t do it for me either, though I’m sure there are plenty of exception to that. I’m a bit too lazy I think!

    • January 29, 2016 / 12:54 pm

      Thanks! At first none of these things got to me. I found them endearing and sweet. Then I started seeing the way women behave toward men and it gave me the heebie jeebies. I can’t fathom acting like a baby to my boyfriend or stomping my feet and crying in public to get something. That’s just me, though! I’m looking forward to leaving in a month!

      • Dikla
        July 30, 2017 / 10:52 am

        Do you think those things are different outside of seoul? Or is it the same ?

        • July 30, 2017 / 3:19 pm

          I think a few things such as vanity are certainly different. I always liked escaping to the countryside on the weekends.

  3. January 29, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    These observations are spot on. I lived in S. Korea for a year and half. It was one of the best experiences of my life but wow was I ready to move on. The culture is so different from our own culture so it is difficult to live there long term, at least I couldn’t do it! I did find that I really liked older Koreans a lot and I made a few really good younger friends from work that I am still in contact with today. It takes a while to make Korean friends there, but when you do, they are loyal friends for life. I do miss Korea and want to visit again someday, but I could not live there again.

    One thing I’d add to the list of dislikes is the drinking culture in Korea. I could not believe how ridiculously drunk people would get! Some of the men would get violent. They would try and pick fights in bars with male foreigners and I saw several men aggressive with their girlfriends.. I once saw a man kick a Korean woman in a bar in her chest. -Many study martial arts at least as children. Then I saw another guy drunk on the street punch his girlfriend in the face. I saw so many people carrying their drunk passed out girlfriends on their backs from bar to bar. I grew tired of having to step over passed out business men on the sidewalks as well as human vomit. Ewwwwww! Now I am not a prude at all, but I have never in my life been to a country where this behavior was acceptable and so regular. 🙂 It was a little shocking.

    But the good outweighed the bad and overall my experiences in Korea were positive. I learned a lot about myself and their country and people. I made really great friends. I wouldn’t change anything. But I also wouldn’t live there again. 🙂

    • January 29, 2016 / 3:50 pm

      Wow I feel for you and your friend! I hate domestic violence and that fact that police are so unwilling to do anything about it. It does not surprise me at all that the police told the couple about the foreigner that reported them. Privacy does not exist in many places. Ugh. I like you, think living in Korea made me a stronger person. For that alone I would not change a thing, and also because of some of the amazing people I met and wonderful friends I made. Would I ever live there again? No way! But I would visit and avoid the bar scene now that I’m older and it doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did. 🙂

      FYI I know the 7-11 you are talking about. I think I went to a dance club across the street and the drinks were so pricey we walked to the 7-11 to get a few cheap beers before going back in to dance more. That was a fun night. Sorry yours was awful!

      It’s so refreshing to see bloggers posting the good as well as the bad about places they visit. It is opinion after all but I like to see all sides of a story, not just the rainbows and unicorns! Thanks for sharing this story!

  4. January 29, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It was really insightful to hear these (American-non-exceptionalist) points of view about life in Korea. I initially wanted to teach in Korea, then figured I’d rather improve my Chinese than learn a new language from scratch, so I’m gearing up to go to Taiwan. But I’ve been trying to keep an open mind lately about Korea, since you can make twice as much money there.

    Anyway, while pondering these thoughts, it was really helpful to read this entry. Thanks!

    • January 29, 2016 / 4:58 pm

      Glad to help! Certainly keep an open mind. Many people love it here, many people hate it here. It’s a very niche culture and it’s just a place that I never meshed well with. I think it’s a great country regardless and encourage anyone to take the leap. It’s a great place to save money if that’s your goal and there would certainly be people here to practice your Chinese with. As I said, I’ve had positive experiences here so it’s not always all bad! I just don’t like it. Let me know if you have any questions!

  5. January 29, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this! These are some of the reasons I decided to move to Taiwan over South Korea… After a lot of research, it seemed to mesh a lot more with my values. Though South Korean culture is fascinating and I’d love to explore it more while visiting, I do think it would be draining to live in a place that doesn’t coincide with your personal beliefs. Congratulations on toughing two years and making the most of it!

    • January 29, 2016 / 10:41 pm

      I think you’ve made the right decision if you’ve done your research. I’ve often found that people who left Korea after 1-2 years and went to Taiwan were instantly happier. I haven’t been to Taiwan yet but I am looking forward to the day I go! Yes it’s certainly been draining and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to leave somewhere in my entire life. Thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

      • February 3, 2016 / 6:14 am

        I just visited Taiwan for a four day stint and was immediately so much more in love with it than I ever have been with Korea.

        • February 3, 2016 / 7:45 am

          Funny as I’ve actually met a number of people here who’ve traveled to Taiwan and were immediately obsessed with it. In the same vein, I’ve met people who moved there from Korea to work and had similar experiences there.

  6. January 29, 2016 / 11:46 pm

    A very well researched post. I enjoyed reading it. Like you, I never felt at home in Japan. Japanese women do something similar to the aegyo but they use high pitched nasal voices when flirting and that absolutely drives me insane. It makes my skin crawl. I also hated that they weren’t very affectionate, something that I find Koreans are.

    Also, the woman with the plastic surgery looks a lot better in the second photo because it looks like she had a pretty bad underbite and plastic surgery helped her. I have an acquaintance back home who did something similar because it was affecting her daily life. While I do agree that a lot of people are vain here, sometimes plastic surgery isn’t such a bad thing, especially if they’re doing it for themselves to feel and look better. To please others is a different story.

    And let me tell you, if anyone thinks they’re racially superior, it’s the Japanese (in the past) who went about conquering shit and thought they should be the head of all Asian nations. (Yes, this was actually published in a journal and translated.)

    Personally, I’m a little troll. I once witnessed a girl bawling her eyes out because of something a guy did. Like full on wailing, and I found it entertaining. I stared until he shut her up which was hilarious to me.

    Also, I’m not a fan of the 빨리 빨리 culture. I think it’s the worst and causes them a lot of stress. I also think it’s part of the reason for the low birth rate.

    I’m curious how you became fluent in Korean. Any tips?

    • January 30, 2016 / 12:03 am

      Thanks! Koreans are known for not being very affectionate as well, though. I think the similarities between Japan and Korea are quite large in that regard. I think it’s changing for younger Koreans, but they’re usually in high school or very young in college.

      As far as that woman in the photo, if she was doing it just to feel better about the underbite, unfortunately I don’t think she would have gotten face contouring, a smaller forehead, a smaller nose and bigger eyes. I think people don’t realize that fixing themselves on the outside doesn’t act as a bandaid for the turmoil they feel inside. It’s a cultural norm and I find it appalling and depressing that parents pay for their children to receive new faces. Again, this isn’t something that is necessarily Koreans’ fault. Their parents are very critical of them from a young age and this culture perpetuates this “perfectionism in all aspects” mentality. Most people are interested in what’s on the outside rather than on the inside, and this affects every aspect of the wheel of life here.

      Koreans have the “han” which is mainly directed at the Japanese. Regardless, they’re determined to be the best of the best which they usually fall short of. This is where the “pure blood” comes in, as it’s something they’re proud of (understandably so) after the Japanese invasions. It’s a sense of their pride, so I can’t compare to Japan as I’m not Japanese or Korean (thus not having the han that all Koreans claim they have.) I’m not sure if Japan has segregated sections for foreigners or continues to do black face for comedic purposes, but I would be interested in knowing that.

      Yes, Korean women are often crying on sidewalks and in public until the boyfriend coddles them. It’s strange and I also unabashedly stare because I’m an adult and I don’t think that sort of behavior by anyone over the age of 4 – err, Korean age 6 – should be merited.

      I’m not fluent, my friend is as I stated I wouldn’t have had any clue had I not been with her =) I agree as far as the low birth rate, but I also think that has a lot to do with the fact that people here get married later in life as they’re expected to provide so much before marriage and a lot of people get married as a last resort type thing rather than for love. Hope you enjoy the time in Korea. I think you’ll find over time (you’ve been here a relatively short time) just how similar Japanese and Korean cultures are!

      • January 12, 2018 / 2:49 pm

        Can you cut it out, Koreans and East Asians in general have their own standards and ways of doing things. You judge us and call our practices “horrible” and “morally corrupt”… get off your high horse and leave us to ourselves, free to live life in whichever way we wish. You have your values, we have ours. You don’t see us Asians complaining that Westerners should be more “collectivist” or less liberal. It goes both ways – stop imposing your values onto us.

        • January 13, 2018 / 5:10 am

          Oh gosh, calm down! I didn’t say “all Asians” are morally corrupt. I said I felt morally corrupt. Read the disclaimer – might help ya 😀

      • Amy
        January 21, 2018 / 1:58 am

        “As far as that woman in the photo, if she was doing it just to feel better about the underbite, unfortunately I don’t think she would have gotten face contouring, a smaller forehead, a smaller nose and bigger eyes. I think people don’t realize that fixing themselves on the outside doesn’t act as a bandaid for the turmoil they feel inside.”
        Laura, some women such as myself were not lucky enough to be born beautiful like yourself.
        What is wrong with someone that wants to improve their looks? It’s their body and their money? Is some of the procedures superficial? Of course it is, but so is butt implants, break augmentation that is huge in the US and Brazil. What is the difference between that and getting braces or veneers to fix your teeth? I find it so odd how people like to point at other people for trying to improve their quality of life while they themselves have been privileged to not have to deal with the insecurities, teasing, and repulsion other people give off.

        I was teased every single day in school growing up. I didn’t have a boyfriend til 31. When you posted that picture of that woman who needed definitely needed maxillofacial surgery for her health, as well as her mental health. I had to post here. Many people wouldn’t begin to understand the life of someone so undesirable that not even many people can even stand to look at you straight in the eye, either out of fear, disgust or you know how you kind of tippy toe around the “hunchback of nortre dame”. Kids laugh and make fun of you. If wasn’t until I saved enough money to get the surgery to finally feel like a normal human being. I cried for days finally being able to feel normal. Being treated as a equal human being worthy of just some sort of human contact where someone isn’t disgusted by the sight of you was worth the money.
        I hope these women that have had these life changing surgeries feel free to live their life how they see fit.

        And to all you people out there that have deformities, or things that have been affecting them their whole lives, you might have been teased at school because you were born with cleft palate, microgenia, or any other things you may have been unlucky enough to be born with.
        Don’t let someone on the internet dictate your life and say it is wrong, or you shouldn’t do this or that. They are NOT the ones who have suffered as you have, they don’t know what it is to life your life. Most of these women who call other women out for trying to improve their looks do so because they cannot empathize with us because they have never faced the brutal torment of feeling unwanted, ugly, disgusting, teased and alone every single day growing up, all because we have medical conditions that make us hideous. They’ve grown up beautiful and they “can’t understand why we don’t love us for ourselves”, It’s like James Dean telling a guy, “It’s easy, Just walk up to her and say Hello, it works every time”

        I encourage all of you who do have medical conditions whom would like to seek a better life through surgery, because it does get better. I finally feel like a normal human being again. What is wrong with people seeking out surgery to fix what is wrong with them, improve their looks or alter their body they want without being shamed? You call yourselves feminists but it is the women who tear us down. Some of us have never had one man turn an eye to them, flirt with them, or even glance in their direction without disgust. Do I have to suffer my whole life because I am not physically beautiful or higher than 4/10 scale? And after all this, if there was a way to improve my life, a total 360 degree turn around and it could be done in a week?

        Some of us we not genetically gifted in the physical department, many of us are not beautiful, smart, funny, or even cute. But we want to be loved too.

  7. January 30, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    Thank you for putting things which are amazingly different. I am an Asian and I truly respect your views on this. People, mostly from Eastern Asia have the mentality which you have perfectly pictured it out. Even, my parents and my school wanted me to learn every 16 hours a day. Though they never realized that I like coding in computers rather they wanted me to complete things which I didn’t like. I am truly happy to realize that it is more like a DNA defect in Asian people. Thank you for your post. I hope you have a better time.

    • Ann
      February 11, 2016 / 1:18 am

      Daniel, I hope you will find (or have found) a way to pursue your own interests and talents. Gaining new perspectives from learning how other cultures and people approach life is so expanding, and valuable. All the best to you!

  8. January 31, 2016 / 9:30 am

    This post was extremely well written and supported with external information. I’ve gotten used to all 5 of these reasons of why you don’t like living in Korea, but they still do bum me out from time to time. I find myself being able to cope with these things better by recognizing I’m only here temporarily, I don’t think I could ever live here long term even though there are alot of things I find myself loving about Korea. What’s funny is that I find public toilets, street puke, and street trash to be the three things I find most unacceptable about living here.

    I get really sad when I hear my students talk about how they can’t wait to get plastic surgery because their mom tells them they’re ugly or how stupid they are because they got two answers wrong on their vocabulary test …it’s really heartbreaking.It makes me feel grateful for the childhood I had.

    I find humor seeing grown ass adults using the “egyo” technique – if that’s what they like, to each their own… It makes me realize how dry my dating life would have been had I lived here as a single. haha

    Anyways, thanks for the honest post.

    • January 31, 2016 / 11:58 am

      Thanks! It’s funny how different things bother others that some find revolting. Humans are interesting. I don’t really mind the public toilets here aside from the weirdo dildo-esque soap because it’s so dirty. The vomit is gross but I don’t see that as much. The spitting bothers me but that’s cultural and something they don’t find rude, so I’ve just sort of accepted it.

      I was once borderline obsessed with Korea and none of these five things bothered me at all. I had a similar mindset as you, which I think is great. However, over time the superficiality and stress has been chipping away at my soul and I just need to move on. I’ve mentally overstayed my welcome as I was ready to go 1.5 years ago but stayed for the sake of love – a decision I’ll never regret.

      The aegyo is certainly pathetically funny but I still don’t find it enjoyable listening to an adult woman beg for things in the same way my kindergarten students do when they really want something! As I said, it’s my opinion so while some people agree with me, it’s understandable that others may not!

      • February 1, 2016 / 2:41 am

        Haha, those soap bars- I can’t use them! I think you live in a bit nicer area of Seoul than we do, the puke piles are everywhere. Gotta watch your step! I completely agree with how you feel though, After our first year teaching I was so ready to leave and never come back – I really needed a break from all of these things. Then after taking 8 months away, we decided we could do it one more year.(but that’s it!) I feel like since we came back we have a different perspective. We had the much needed break that we needed to recalibrate. The one week vacations are not enough here, especially in a place where the culture is completely different than your own.

  9. January 31, 2016 / 12:34 pm

    Wow, you hit the nail on the head here. I’m also coming up to the 2 year mark and this is exactly how I feel. There are so many things I love about this country and so much that I’ve learned while I’ve been here but I know that me and Korea have never exactly fit. I think I’m open minded about the culture and am always respectful but there are things that I will never accept, like the aegyo culture, the close mindedness and shallowness. I know there are definitely things about my culture that Koreans find strange and can’t accept too, neither culture is right or wrong but sometimes a place is just a wrong fit for you! Hope your next adventure is amazing Laura 🙂 x

  10. February 3, 2016 / 6:19 am

    I LOVE this post! I’ve read so much about how great Korea is and how much expats love it here and I was starting to think there was something wrong with me (and my husband) for hating it. I agree with everything on this list and would add my personal frustration of produce in Seoul costing the same amount it does in New York but mostly being of terrible quality with very little variety AND treatment of dogs in Korea. We rescued two huskies here, which I know means we brought more stares and dirty looks upon ourselves, but how could we not with all the shelters here so underfunded, under-regulated and overflowing?

    • February 3, 2016 / 7:44 am

      There’s certainly nothing wrong with you guys. It’s hard living here. It’s easy to make money but…no. Yes the cost of fruit here is out of control, but I don’t think that’s as terrible as some of the other things that bother me as I knew that ahead of time. The treatment of animals is horrific but that’s just Asia in general not necessarily unique to Korea. It doesn’t mean it makes it any easier to see some dogs chained up here the way they are. It’s pretty terrible but I hope that’s something that is changing among younger Koreans. At any rate, thanks so much for reaching out. I’m glad I made you two feel a bit more at ease – you aren’t alone! How much longer do you have left here? I hope it’s not too long!

  11. February 9, 2016 / 7:17 am

    I could not imagine dealing with the discrimination as a foreigner, the segregation thing is crazy. People will make comments here about foreigners but thankfully it is not too often. And the childlike behavior of the girls, that would drive me insane. Super interesting to read this!

  12. February 9, 2016 / 12:01 pm

    Oh wow, amazing reading this. I have never visited Korea but now I can totally get an idea of their culture and society. The movie about the egyo is hilarious, I never imagined something like that has a word for it and is actually common to ‘use’ as a tool and they admit it as well. Wow, culture differences:)! Thanks for this amazing post Laura!

  13. February 9, 2016 / 2:59 pm

    I had known about Korea’s peculiar obsession with plastic surgery, but I hadn’t realized how glaringly different Korean culture can be. To be honest, I had a huge KPOP and kdrama phase and that really glorified the country in my eyes. I eventually grew out of it, but I still had many friends who were so tuned into that world that I couldn’t have a decent conversation with them unless it was about the latest SHINee single or whatever. I realized how the entertainment industry perpetuates a certain ideal image for girls and guys. It’s not exclusive to Korea–for example, Hollywood perpetuates its own image of the ideal American man and woman–but the homogeneity of Korea, the lack of individualism, and the dominance of Korean pop culture all cultivate in the unhealthy obsession with being ideal.

    The “aegyo” thing would drive me up a wall! I like how you put it–“as a direct slap in the face to all the Korean women who worked so hard in the past and continue to do so to this day.” Would you say it’s thoughtful manipulation from the woman’s part, or do they honestly think that’s an appropriate way to get what you want? Either way, jeepers creepers!

  14. February 9, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    What an interesting post. I would still like to visit Korea but it isn’t somewhere that appeals to me for living. I’m ‘living’ in Nicaragua for 6 weeks, a temporary stop to work and save some money but I know I could not live here full time. The heat, the cat calling, did I mention the heat?! Going to save that short film for later. Thanks for sharing, I hope you get some respite!

  15. February 10, 2016 / 1:49 am

    NIce post! I’ve certainly experienced this when I went on a vacation in Korea with my friends. A guy, probably in college pushed me in the subway. He did not even say sorry to me. He acted pretty normal when passing long fellow Koreans though.. Haven’t seen the no-foreigners allowed restaurants. Thank goodness because that would make my positive thoughts about Korea crumble,.

  16. February 17, 2016 / 3:17 am

    Wow, there’s an incredible response to this post from people who feel the same way.

    I’m also one of them. I’ve been here for almost 2 years and just don’t like living here. I’m done and I’m glad to be moving.

    The obsession with looks thing bothered me so much when I first came here but it wasn’t until I went on vacation last month and started wondering where all the mirrors were and checking my own compact to see if my make-up/hair were okay that I realised how ingrained the looks thing has become. It’s horrible. I came here on top of the world and full of confidence. My self-esteem was at an all-time high. Now, 2 years later? It’s taken a battering. I’m so self-conscious and have some major body image issues. Will definitely be needing to work on that when I leave.

    I’m always glad that I got to work in a vocation school where there’s no pressure on my students to go to university. None of them will and that’s why they come here. They just have to learn the practical skills they’re taught and the school will help them get a job when they graduate. There’s no pressure on them to pass the English exams so they can relax in my class. I don’t know how I would have coped working at a hagwon or an academic high school.

    I also put a dead stop on the childish behaviour in my class. During my first semester, so many teenage girls (age 16-17) would whine and throw full on tantrums. I told them straight that in my class you acted like young ladies or get out. I didn’t sign on to teach babies in a high school.

    These cultural differences are a pain in the bum but, yeah, there are still things I do enjoy here. I’m not sure if I’ll miss living here though.

    • February 17, 2016 / 4:42 am

      Thanks for your comment! I definitely used to think that I was an odd one out for not liking living in Korea. It’s not like I dislike the country itself, but I just cannot imagine ever having to be here for longer than I have. After awhile, I realized I was not abnormal and I’m no longer afraid to admit that I really hate living here. I leave in a little under two weeks and really look forward to moving forward. I’ve gained a strong sense of self here but it came from being so absolutely stressed all the time. For example, this morning I had to push past at least five people on my way out of the train without apologizing simply because they just don’t move out of the way. It’s like moving a rock. I thought to myself, “no wonder people here are so stressed out all the time!”

      It’s really taken a toll on my sanity. My school does not push children at all, but my first job was a doozie. The children were expected to write five paragraph essays each week by age 9. It was really unfortunate. I will look back on my time here fondly, but like you, I certainly will not miss living here for the most part.

      • February 18, 2016 / 11:43 pm

        Girl, I can’t even begin to explain how much I resonate with you. You leave in just under 2 weeks; I leave in just under 5 weeks. If you have time, we should have a coffee/lunch meetup.

        • February 19, 2016 / 1:16 am

          Are you in Seoul? I would love to meet up!

  17. February 21, 2016 / 6:53 pm

    I lived in Korea 10 years ago and, while I personally really loved it and have been vack to visit a few times since, there were certainly aspects that I didn’t like. I think discrimination was actually worse then as well. But I imagine the beauty/vain aspects are even worse now than when I was there. I swear Korea was actually the first time I started seeing girls take selfies of themselves. I live in California now and it’s rampant here and everywhere else now, I guess- but yeah, all that plastic surgery in Korea is crazy. It really is hard to live in a culture so different to your own. Like you say, there are things in your own country you don’t like but, somehow, when you live in another country the undesirable aspects seem to stand out more. I’m British and, while I love California, there are things in the US that make me so annoyed! It almost seems worse here- I’ve lived overseas a few times but it was always temporary. I’ve moved to the US permanently and I think knowing I’m here forever makes all the annoying things worse haha! I hope the things you don’t like about Korea don’t sour it for you though. I’m sure you had a lot of great times too. One thing I have found useful is to think of the things I wouldn’t have/be experiencing if I wasnt living in the US (or one of the other countries I’ve lived in). For example- I might get annoyed at how I have to drive everywhere here when in the UK I can walk or take public transport (this is definitely not the worst thing but it does annoy me). But then I remind myself that if I was back in the UK it would be cold and rainy anyway and I wouldn’t live next to a beautiful beach. Hope that helps and good luck with your next adventure.

    • February 21, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      Thanks! I think an important thing to remember is not to generalize the US. For instance, driving everywhere in a city is very unique to California (er, Los Angeles) rather than the entirety of the MASSIVE country. I lived in Chicago for 7 years and walked everywhere and took public transportation. I used my car for out of town purposes. Same goes with New York City. My experience here is certainly not spoiled, but yeah it’s just not a culture for me. I went out with friends the other night and the table of women next to us didn’t speak to one another all night but rather just took photos of themselves. It was really sad that it’s the norm here and it’s almost to be expected! I’m grateful for the memories I’ve made here – good and bad – but it’s time to go. Thanks for your comment!

  18. March 22, 2016 / 8:15 am

    I thought about teaching in Korea, then found out there is serious age discrimination there and I was wayyy too old to even be considered for a teaching job. I ended up in Taiwan and it’s great! Glad you figured out Korea wasn’t a good fit for you and are moving on!

  19. sabi
    July 30, 2016 / 4:18 am

    Gosh i completely agree with you. I DO NOT LIKE this country for the reason you stated as well as you are supposed to be conscious of everyones elses opinion . Ur parents in law dictate the way you get married etc. Im 27 and i get treated like a kid. Hate it. Not to mention somehow old ajummas think they can somehow touch my body wtf. I have a hard time deciding whether to stay or go simply cuz I meant a very western thinking Korean guy. But this country is making me into such a pessimistic person…

    If u still in Seoul id love to meet up.
    sabicoat25 is my kakaoid

    • July 30, 2016 / 4:40 am

      Hey, Sabina! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Korea really does suck, eh? I wrote this from a very dark place, one of which I’ve totally escaped since leaving that country. I can’t imagine ever feeling like I did before I left. I am so sorry you’re going through this and please know it will get better. I’ve dropped you a line on your email in case you don’t read this. Keep you head up.

  20. Althea
    August 8, 2016 / 1:28 pm

    Thank you for your post. This is very informative and different from the You-Tube videos I have watched 😊

  21. Patricija
    October 1, 2016 / 3:12 pm

    Hey Laura! I am a student from Lithuania studying in the UK. Thank you so much for sharing your prospect and your view of Korea and korean people. I was always facinated by korean culture and their way of living for quite a bit of time. Therefore, I always wanted to visit South Korea and see how much my expectations meet the reality. I am planning to move there after I finish University or at least go there for a holiday and see how things are there. Your post did make me concerned on how will I deal with all the flaws you pointed out, because they seem pretty severe 😀 But I find their culture and heritage so interesting, and aboslutely love their language and I wish to be fluent in it, as I love learning new languages. Even after reading your post and how hard can it be there, I still have hope to find something so beautiful in there that will make me stay. Do you think its worth to try?

    • October 4, 2016 / 4:23 am

      YES! It’s definitely worth it to try!

  22. Jusitn Song
    October 19, 2016 / 2:14 am

    Thank you for your detail pointing out on Korean life and I have to admit that it’s true.
    I was born in Korea and immigrated to Canada when I was 30. I may have the same reasons and they brought me to out of country. However, after living in US(NJ, OR) now I am back to Korea for working in company.
    Here is the tip. If you want to be away from the reasons, find the right people who live out of Seoul and well educated in oversea country, but do not get along with stupid and no-manner Koreans. It’s hard to find because they are not exposed to public, but it’s worth. They have their own community, respectful, well mannered and open to foreigners.

    I am sorry for your unpleasant experience living in Korea, but many good people normally hide…
    At New York city, many people could claim several unacceptable reasons like aboves.
    I was born in Seoul and stayed for 30 years, but I don’t like to live in Seoul either. And these days, the stupid government drives stressed Koreans crazy too. Away..

    • October 20, 2016 / 7:00 pm

      Hey, Justin! Thanks for reading and commenting. I definitely agree that these types of issues could be had in any major city across the globe. I sometimes wonder how different my experience would be if I’d lived somewhere smaller in Korea. In my neighborhood in Seoul (Sinsa/Apgujeong) there wasn’t any grocery store, but there were hundreds of plastic surgery centers. It was a bit overwhelming. Within six months of living in Korea, my boyfriend and I caught a man watching us sleep and filming/taking pictures from my bedroom window. It took my school/employer EIGHT MONTHS to fix the window and not one of them ever asked if I was okay. After that, it was hard for me to ever feel comfortable in Korea. I no longer live there and am much happier and feel more like myself again. It was not the best experience, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who love it there.

      Thanks so much for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your future!

  23. Evelyn
    October 19, 2016 / 9:43 am

    Hello Laura! I enjoyed reading your post; you tell it like it is but in such a respectful and honest manner 🙂 I’ve never lived in Korea and have only travelled there thrice. I’ve experienced the 5 things that you’ve listed and have always wondered how do people from outside the culture actually manage to live there in the long run. Those things would really get to me and affect me overtime.

    I’ve also always found it strange that out of the three times i’ve been there on holiday, on two of those trips i felt this immense sense of gloom for no apparent reason. I just felt very down and kind of “hopeless” just walking around, visiting the various places. I still can’t figure out why I felt that way there (and the minute i was at Incheon airport on the way out of Korea my mood lifted) but there’s something about the atmosphere i feel; just the surrounding vibes, people and environment.

    The vanity culture really got to me and it’s the only place on earth where i felt the constant need to check if my makeup was ok and to re-apply it (on the train no less!). It just came so naturally to me and felt so normal cause everyone was doing it. Also – the open blatant comments on one’s appearance – most of them were positive but I just found it so in-your-face and kinda shallow after awhile.. It’s like ppl compliment you either to get you to buy something or for some other sort of motivation that I couldn’t quite tell.

    I also really dislike the drinking/smoking culture here too (seems like there are a bunch of men smoking on every street corner) and this is a random point but i feel like Koreans love to eat ALOT which results in a lot of food wastage all the time. The communal eating thing also bothers me (though I’m half-Chinese and communal eating is very common in the Chinese culture too) as I always only travel to Korea with another friend/my mum and we would be unable to try out the food in various restaurants cause the portions were just too huge. Also, I started to get really bored of the food after awhile. I love fresh things – fresh vegetables and fruits in particular but found it very lacking in the cuisine. I felt so constrained by the food that i didn’t really look forward to meals there lol.

    And omg the stress of riding the subways and the shoving/pushing, throngs of people everywhere you go, walking miles somewhere only to realise it’s been shut down, the lack of dustbins, the unsanitary situations in most public bathrooms. I’ve been in places where I was absolutely horrified at the absence of soap or like you get those communal bar soap thingies which is sooo gross.

    Also, is it just me but i find romantic relationships here to be really….fast-paced and quite shallow with alot of co-dependency and neediness? Like, I find that couples behave in a very childish manner – couple t-shirts, aegyo-ing with each other etc. And like things seem to progress so fast in romantic relationships here that sometimes I wonder what are they going for? It’s like there’s no stage of dating and getting to know whether you are a good fit for one another and then deciding to get together. It’s just like boom – meet a member of the opposite sex, get together and start acting like a couple who’s been together for 5 years. I dont know if i make sense but i find it extremely bizzare. I always wonder how much do couples really know about each other and what is it that made them want to get together. Do they share the same values and goals and all those deeper things or is it simply getting together cause both parties are single and available? Hmm.

    • October 20, 2016 / 6:53 pm

      Korea made me feel extremely depressed, which is where my mind was when I initially wrote this. As far as the smoking culture, I don’t mind that as much because I find many places in Asia (and my own country in some cities) are quite similar. I’d say Koreans are more respectful regarding smoking habits than other places I’ve traveled in Asia, actually. With eating, I think it’s a nice way for them to gather together and enjoy conversation and have fun, so I never paid any attention to whether or not they were finishing their meals.

      I certainly don’t miss having to ride the subway there; so much pushing made me feel really uneasy. As far as the dating culture goes, yes I definitely noticed that. It’s so foreign in comparison to my own culture where we like to get to know one another first before committing. I think it all depends on the individuals, but I did notice things moved very quickly there (even in my own experiences, which turned me off a bit.)

      Overall, my negative feelings toward Korea have shifted into oblivion as I no longer live there and won’t be returning any time soon – if ever. Some people love it, some people hate it. I happened to dislike the environment quite a bit but did meet many foreigners and locals who were great. It does get hard every day to live somewhere where people say, “what’s wrong?” or “are you sick?” every day upon walking into work. It really takes a toll on one’s psyche. Thanks for reading and I hope you don’t let the vanity bring you down, lovely!

  24. Taehee Kim
    October 23, 2016 / 3:02 am

    I want tell you something about number 4.
    I am korean.
    I can’t speak English well but I hope you read.

    About taxi
    Some taxi drivers alot~~~~~of time ignore to Korean also too so oneday i was waiting 4hours for taxi.

    And section divided foreigners and Korean reason why korean section workers can not speak English.

    And last one why some event area korea and foreigner. Actually foreigner areas facilities better korean areas facilities. Because you know they like good looking forappearance and they want get for more money.
    Korean doesn’t help exchange that’s reason why.

    Other things I agree specially 1 and 5 🙂
    Thanks for reading

  25. Solan Hellmann
    October 26, 2016 / 8:24 am

    Dear Laure,

    I find me in your writing. Ich felt the same way like you.
    Don’ t make you sick because of all you think.
    Just live and enjoy and thank what you have.
    Believe me, your korea living time is one of the best expierience in your life which you bild up and need.

    Your Solan

  26. Sara
    October 27, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    Hi Laura
    I am a korean having lived in the states many years. When I lived only in korea, I think I acted same way as you described above and probably would have been defensive even offended by thinking you are generalizing the culture. But now I guess I am assimilated to american culture (be roman in rome. LOL), I can totally understand and agree with you. But the plastic surgeries, looking at the mirror all the time, taking stupid selfies everywhere and aekyo are ridiculous to me and i do get annoyed time to time, But they are passable.
    The things I really have problem with are lack of individuality, no personal space, shoving and bumping, people touching my body part (someone mentioned about it) and the stupid comments such as “you look ill” when you dont wear make up. These things really drive me up the wall. Ah another big thing, the temper tantrum…it is not only happening between couples, Korean people tend to throw tantrums whenever things dont go their way regardless age and gender. You can see people scream, cry, throw things, kick things when they get mad and complain about somethings or when they are drunk. These kinds of behavior are widely accepted and there are not much consequences even when cops are called. And if you dont have guts or whatever to act like them, it is best to walk away unless they break you bone. There are still a lot of stuff I enjoy in korea, but sometimes I just want to scream and that is what i am doing now. So please bear with me. LOL

  27. David Graves
    October 29, 2016 / 3:39 am

    I came upon this post because I’ll be moving to Seoul, soon.
    From your perspective, Korea sounds almost exactly like China- except that in China, people tend to be far less “romantic”- women will gather in groups to take pictures of their faces for 30 minutes and of their expensive food that they never touch, but relationships are purely about money for women in China, whereas in Korea there seems to be an aspect of naive, “prince charming” type shit. Also, it seems that Koreans generally follow the law, rather than completely disregarding it as they do in China. And there there’s the whole thing where China blocks nearly all western websites. And there’s the whole thing where you can’t trust anyone in China because nobody trusts anybody in China. But otherwise, the people in both countries seem to behave in very much the same way.

    So… thanks for your honest review of the place. Korea should be much easier for me to deal with than China.

  28. Evan
    November 5, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    very interesting… I’m totally agree with you even though I was born in Korea

  29. JC
    November 5, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    Laura,

    I have to admit that most of the points you made are completely right. I am a Korean, born and raised there, but now I have been living in the US for about 10 years. How many times I felt the way you felt whenever I visit Korea. Like, Koreans care too much about how you look.

    My parents and friends always greet me with 왜 이렇게 말랐냐 (you look so thin) 왜 이렇게 피곤해 보이냐 (you look so tired). I always tell them not to comment on others’ look, but they just don’t change. It is just Korean culture and I doubt it will ever chance in this generation.

    I also agree with your other points regarding “cultivating childish behaviors.” That is at least partly due to the Confucius culture (men should accept whatever women do since men are responsible for their women at home). It became even worse with movie “My Sassy Girl” (엽기적인 여자) in which an extremely spoiled (but good-looking) girl treats her boy friend unfairly in the name of love. Korean women must have been influenced by the movie. I also had girl friends like that.

    There is one more point I would like to add: KOREA IS AN INSECURE SOCIETY, which I think is the main underlying driver of most other things you pointed out. Koreans get angry when they feel they are treated disrespectfully. In Korean, 쟤가 나 무시하네 and they start fighting.

    Of course, there are many things I miss about Korea– the food, nightlife, and my family and friends. But the culture there is just too much. Korea is now an advanced economy—it took only 50 years to catch up with developed ones. However, it will take generations for the mindset of people to change..

  30. Chris
    December 5, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    I found this blog after trying to process similar thoughts on my first ever visit to Korea this weekend, and it’s helped me understand why I really disliked being in Korea. In fact, I think for the first time ever, and after travelling to many places in the Far East, I experienced deep culture shock.

    I am an ALT on the West Coast of Japan, so naturally I thought a short trip to Korea would make sense when I had time off. Seriously after two days I was ready to return, I was previously interested in Korean culture and history, but the experience was just so off-putting, that I cannot see myself ever wanting to go back. People are so cold, they constantly bump into you in the street and never even acknowledge your existence, even in convenience stores.

    I also noticed the selfie thing in Korea, it is at least 10 times worse there than in Japan, where it is already really common. I just found it so bizarre that girls would just look at themselves, as if entranced like Narcissus, I haven’t noticed that so much in Japan usually selfies are short or especially a bit of fun with friends using weird and wonderful Line filters. In Incheon Airport a group of Japanese girls and a group of Korean girls were sitting next to each other. The Korean girls stared at themselves on their phones taking selfies, meanwhile the Japanese girls commented on how cute their donuts looked (they were pink rabbit faces). It just seemed to me that the Koreans were so joyless, while the Japanese girls were enjoying each others company and the small novelties of life.

    It reminds me of Mary Wollstonecraft’s words on the lives of upper class women in the late 18th Century: “Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and, roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adore its prison.”

  31. Locke
    February 14, 2017 / 8:55 am

    This article is very genuine and much appreciated!

    Your cultural observations take us (or me at least) beyond the scope of a traveler’s lens – yes, I’d love to hear recommendations for entertainment, food and touristy hot-spots (is touristy a word?)…but we all have different interests, and I probably wouldn’t like what you like.

    You told us what to expect when we’re in a coffee shop, diner or just on the steet watching a temper-tantrum with flying purses- you illustrated the attitudes we need to prepare for with some of the locals.

    Well I’m rambling, but I came here to say thanks! I have spent a long while building up to a concrete plan and if those plans pan out I’ll be walking in prepared (plus I took Korean martial arts here in the States – but that is something I will vehemently deny if anyone were to bring it up). Thanks again!

    I’ll try to hold off on any plastic surgery during my first week…

    • February 14, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      I hope you have a good time! Living somewhere is very different from traveling somewhere for a shorter period of time, so I’m sure you’ll have a positive experience!

  32. February 21, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I totally agree with this article. I’ve been in South Korea for about 8 months now and this place drives me nuts. Korea takes all the worst parts of America-capitalistic drive, vanity, racism, etc. and takes it to a whole other level of crazy. Well written, and very accurate. Go U.S.A!

    • Y
      April 7, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Yeah almost all of americans who have lived here have said the exactly the same thing, which is wholeheartedly true. The country is actually a huge (capitalistic) trash of the 21C civilization, I sometimes think.

  33. JisooYeeun
    March 17, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    Interesting post.but to be honest, I didn’t like so much. I think it’s a bit nonsense no like to live in korea because of this things. I’m a Hard kpop fan so my interest in the country is growing up

  34. Su Yang
    March 19, 2017 / 9:13 am

    I never thought of this from foreigners who live in South Korea, I felt very embarrassed while i was reading this because I am korean and never expected this racism or something like that from foreigners who live in South Korea. I think you have mentioned only bad stuffs but there are so many good stuffs in South Korea that you didn’t even mentioned. People who are reading this and have hatred toward South Korea, please don’t. I am not trying to defend people who doesn’t like South Korea but I would like to get to the point that there’s no perfect country where they have racism or stresses. Even in United States or United Kingdoms, they also cares about look and how the face looks like and there are so many other countries where there are some group of people or nationality are not able to go in the restaurant or clubs. But i am really sorry for you that you experienced this type of problems in South Korea and I feel very embarrassed but I hope that you are still loving your life or experience in South Korea.

    • March 27, 2017 / 6:38 pm

      Thanks for reading! As I am American, I can most certainly tell you that after living in South Korea for two years, most of these issues are isolated to the country. Yes, people care about looks in America, but every single surface is not made up of mirrors. We definitely don’t have signs for plastic surgery everywhere, nor is it common. I no longer live in Korea – I left one year ago!

  35. Seana
    March 28, 2017 / 4:12 am

    I start living in seoul since november 2016, usually stayed home because no friends yet well i only want to make foreign friends because i dont like koreans . Well i do agree of your post. Staying home or go outside alone for me is better rather than begging koreans just to make a friend. Eugh

    Actually i had bad experienced in myeong dong. I went around looking on the street food, i saw seafood its a big scallop grill with cheese so i came closer and wait for my order but unfortunately the woman(seller) came out on the cart and suddenly push those foreigner around the cart without saying an excuse. So rude i cannot understand and i was like (crazy face). It is same on the street mall even employees did that.

  36. pat
    March 29, 2017 / 12:51 am

    oh wow, i totally agree. i’m ethnically korean but grew up in new zealand.
    i’ve been living in korea for the past 7 years and i still feel like i don’t fit in.
    i’m too “weird” and “slow-witted” people say.

    i also developed severe bulimia under the pressure of looking a certain way.
    it’s so unhealthy and hurtful living in korea. i can’t wait to leave this place.

  37. Y
    April 7, 2017 / 6:26 pm

    I can’t agree with you more on this. Though I myself is a korean, after having spent my earlier years mostly in ‘western’ culture, all these things just creep me on and I really can’t bear these as a young adult. Most of the points that you’ve made might have come from the ‘smallness’ of this country – keep that in mind that the country is still ‘divided’- without much heterogeneity in race, religion, culture. The country’s past history and current political situation (being squeezed between China and the U.S.) all contribute to the annoying features of Koreans I guess. They are just too obsessed with their own, not being able to see others and outer world.

    But you know what? Though I can still talk quite a good english, I can’t be paid as much as you guys are paid just because I’m not ‘native’- here mostly means I don’t look like caucasian. And I somehow feel like I’m forced to live in this small country! Aww I think I overestimated my birthplace too much after I’ve been accustomed to other cultures (British, American, etc) so long.

    I think you should speak up on all these so that people can be somehow ‘enlightened(thoughI’m not a good fan of this word)’. I’m already being annoyed by these people’s disrespect for the others, louting outside at midnight, lack of ‘individual right’.

    Sum up: I envy you guys as you guys have your own home to go back at least.

    • Kim
      December 23, 2017 / 3:29 pm

      “I envy you guys as you guys have your own home to go back at least”

      couldn’t agree with you more!! As I’m korean who doesn’t fit this culture but had to leave for over 30yrs!!

      Winter fucking feezing cold, ppl are generally so compatitive so jealous for tiny things makes me tired. and egyo things I don’t understand which I dont’t have one, and so many koreans had been pointing out that was my biggist problem!!!!!!!!!!

      that’s why I only have few korean girl friends.

      Someone might ask me why I live here?
      I tried to live abroad, as Im not a super talented person, had to related to some koreans there n nothing changed I felt like I still lived in korea, but more small and worse verson.

      Insted of settling down foreign country, I decided to travel as much as I can. That’s the only solution I barely keep my sense!

      Sadly I think this is the fate for the sober asians.

      Or you just join the zombie culture and be happy with staring at your phone forever with V sign and upload your fake photo on insta / wear same makeup&dress like koreans actress and enjoy stupid korean drama and idol music.

      Sounds terrible!! I rather choose to remain outcast lol.

  38. Sienna
    May 9, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    I totally agree with your post
    I hate korean culture even if I am a korean.
    Now i’m in vancouver. And realized that you felt in korea.
    Trying to excape from my country.

  39. Henry Lee
    May 11, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    I think you are making a common mistake most foreigners make….

    1) Making an Apples to Oranges comparison. You have to compare Seoul VS Manhattan….city vs city. not Seoul VS. a quiet suburb. Asian cities are much more compact since they have to import oil so even places far away from downtown will have a city center lifestyle. I wonder if people who used to live in Manhattan feel the same way. Most people who don’t like living in NYC don’t like Asian megacities. You see vanity arises from the fact that there are so many people there when you are out and about. People in Idaho don’t care how they look because you are in your car, but people in New York riding the subway and walking around care alot more of their appearances because there is a greater chance of running into someone whom you want to impress. Just fact of life of living in a large walkable city. More money spent on clothes and looks and less on cars.

    2) Being shocked without understanding historical context. US military is stationed right in Seoul and have caused trouble amongst locals as arrogant entitled thugs. You should ask the shop owner why they ban foreigners. What if their customer or employee was physically hurt by military thugs, who are exempt from prosecution? Korea is no longer colonized by Japan, but there is a sense that USA took over Japan’s role with military base right in the capital for last 50+ years. Imagine how Washington DC residents would feel is Saudi Arabia had a military base there?

    3) Regarding Individuality….Governments tightly control imports in order to boost export, GDP, and general standard of living at a cost of consumer choice. Koreans couldn’t even purchase non-Korean made car until recently. So when you see Koreans driving Hyundais and Kias, it is not because they don’t want to express themselves, they grew up without any choice. Only the superrich could pay 300% tax to drive foreign imports. and this is just automobiles. Think about how much individuality can be realized if you could only purchase MADE-IN-USA products. What you are really saying is that Koreans need more consumer choice via free trade and not really individuality.

    4) Judging Korea’s upfront racism while ignoring sophisticated institutional racism covered up by political correctness in western countries. There are still places in San Francisco where women can’t enter a build through the front door. How about some country clubs limiting membership to women and minorities? they don’t have a sign printed, but white folks figured out how to be smarter about being racists. I would worry more about institutional racism than some dive bar not allowing you in because they had to clean up the mess foreigners before you had made.

    4) Also, many white are used to “white privilege” in their home country being the majority and can’t accept the reality of being a minority anywhere else….but comes off as saying they don’t like it. What you don’t like is being a minority and the loss of privileges that goes along with it. Individuality

    • May 11, 2017 / 8:30 pm

      1. I’ve lived in both New York City and Chicago. Living in Chicago were some of the best 7 years of my life. The great thing about big cities elsewhere in the world is the walls of the subways and advertisements on the streets aren’t mainly plastic surgery ads.

      2. That’s an interesting assumption and point to make, but it’s merely covering the surface. What about the Korean club that banned “all people from Africa” during the ebola outbreak? Or the fact that Koreans refused to take responsibility for the MERS virus. A Korean person brought it into the country, but the foreigners got banned from public spaces. Nope.

      3. I somehow managed to purchase colorful and patterned clothing during my 2.5 years living there. I wasn’t talking about the cars or brands – which was my point 😉 I grew out of that phase as a young child.

      4. Institutional racism practiced within the country would be Korean business owners blatantly stating they are looking for an English-speaking teacher, but not a “black one.” That’s happened countless times. Banning people outright from restaurants/bars/clubs/jobs/events is ridiculous no matter how you slice it.

      5. I don’t mind being a minority. If I minded, I wouldn’t be living abroad for the past 3.5 years.

      Thank you for reading!

      • Mr.. Ching Chong Kimchiman
        July 14, 2017 / 5:12 pm

        This is a dumbest post I’ve seen in the longest time…
        Different is not wrong.
        Who gives you the right to judge others?
        Do you want the whole country to bend over backward for you?
        Why do you even venture outside your own room? For crying out loud. lofl.

        • July 15, 2017 / 5:20 am

          Thank you for your insight, Mr. Ching Chong Kimchiman!

          • Peter Lee
            July 24, 2017 / 8:56 pm

            Laura, the fact that you posted this blog about how you dislike Korea and its people is quite disappointing. Based on your writing, you seem educated and educated people are generally more understanding. You are wasting time writing this articulate blog to find people online to agree with you and to feel better and I understand, but this is no different to a grown-up acting up in public places seeking attention. You must feel better now so do the right thing. Take care.

          • July 25, 2017 / 3:38 am

            Thanks so much for taking the time to read! It’s very different from an adult woman throwing a temper tantrum; there are links that substantiate my statements. I wrote this when living there as I wanted other people to know they weren’t alone in their sentiments. The positive response has been overwhelming as I often get emails from people who come across this post thanking me/asking advice. It’s helped some people feel a bit better, evidenced in this thread as well as in the emails. If I upset a few along the way then so be it. Again, thanks for reading 🙂

          • Captain American
            July 26, 2017 / 12:23 am

            When people agree with you, you tell them something like “it is actually not that bad…” to make people think you are a fair person. But then when someone disagrees with you, you either ignore or show your true color ranting about South Korea. Well done!

            By the way, I don’t take many selfies myself but I don’t know why that should bother you. And Americans talking about South Koreans being racist is just too funny.

          • July 26, 2017 / 4:21 am

            Thank you for reading!

          • LMAO
            August 30, 2017 / 8:42 pm

            I love your responses, BTW! Reminds me of the ‘that’s nice’ quote from Mrs Brown’s Boys.

            You know you’ve hit a nerve when some people are getting personal. Keep up the good work!

  40. Roddey
    July 16, 2017 / 10:47 am

    So as a fellow world traveler, I wanted to give my input, not that it matters but coming from a different perspective. I live in Beijing. I’ve lived in Tokyo, Seoul, and other cities around Asia. All of these things that are listed are common throughout all of Asia. Some are better at hiding it, or beating around the bush, but it’s all there.

    I guess that’s ok with me though. I expected it before I moved. I was even told to leave a bar in Seoul before being seated due to being a foreigner. They weren’t ugly about it, in fact the lady that told me had sorrow in her eyes and could tell she didn’t want to be asking me to leave. It’s just a policy some places. The employees must enforce it, there’s nothing they can do at their level.

    The rest of these, I try to just remember it’s none of my business. I used to get so angry at cultural differences that would inconvenience me, but I also realized that it’s not something I can change. You see something, you get a little ticked off, you move on. As soon as I stopped caring about these, things got a lot easier.

    I suppose it’s part of the traveling experience!

    • July 16, 2017 / 3:57 pm

      I don’t live in Korea any longer – this is an old post! I agree with your sentiment and ideals. I feel the same way now. Took awhile, though 🙂

  41. kelcie
    July 18, 2017 / 2:24 am

    I loved the doc, made me smile and cry at the same time. I just graduated high school so I’m glad to be out for the summer, but compared to Korean schools, my high school life might be luxury.
    Stay woke y’all

  42. John
    July 24, 2017 / 3:54 am

    You wrote a masterpiece because you were so honest and I totally agree with you. Let me tell you that you made my day. I wish you good luck at whatever you do wherever you are. I wish there were more people like you writing about true experiences in Korea..

  43. August 8, 2017 / 6:02 am

    When it comes to Korean education, I agree with you. Children here spend gruelling hours studying instead of enjoying their life. The work ethics in South Korea is indeed horrible. Some companies do not allow vacation, and if one were to take a vacation, they deduct the amount of money you earn. These factors play greatly on birthrate in South Korea. South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world. But the current president Moon Jae in is planning to change that working hours to be shorter.

    What I disagree with you on is Korean women throwing temper tantrums in public. I think it is based on one’s temperment rather than a nation as whole. I see plenty of South Korean women who are mature enough to not show emotions in public. Perhaps you’ve seen immature ones here and generalise the population as whole.

    Indeed South Korea is collectivist country, if you don’t like that, you won’t like Scandinavia either because Scandinavia lack individuality too.

    What’s more? we human beings tend to like attractive people over unattractive ones ( I don’t like to be politically correct). Altering one’s face to please themselves doesn’t seem so bad to me, since it’s individual’s choice. There are a lot of people in South Korea and people are competing for jobs and they all seem to have average skills to fulfil a job, who’s going to be likely to be picked? The ones who takes care of themselves to stay fit, and alter their faces to please others if you’re a sales person.

    I’m not a big fan of Korea either but I think you shouldn’t base your points on what you think. Rather, take a look at the whole picture, and consider why people are doing these acts and take some polls to see how many Korean women act immature by showing grandiose emotions in public. I prefer to see objective view of points than subjectivity.

    • August 8, 2017 / 6:28 am

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to post! As far as me basing the points on what I thing, I did provide a disclaimer at the beginning of the post that reads: “This isn’t to say that I do not appreciate some aspects of Korean culture; this country is just somewhere that I couldn’t possibly imagine living long-term. If you’re reading this and getting mentally defensive, understand that this isn’t meant to be a dig at the country or its culture, but rather an account of my experience in Korea.”

      This blog is a mixture of my experiences as well as content such as partnerships, sponsorships, and expat tips. This specific post happens to be a post detailing my own personal experiences! The fact that women have to completely alter their faces to the point where they’re shaving their jawbones and creating an unnatural extra eyelid simply to land a job is beyond my comprehension. 🙂

      As far as the people providing “aegyo” entertainment on public transportation and such, I wouldn’t say it’s *everyone,* and at no point did I say it was everyone. There’s no doubt that many women there act in that manner; it’s widely accepted and almost expected within a relationship. I personally found that encountering a grown adult bullying her boyfriend into purchasing her a new teddy bear to be annoying.

      At any rate, this post continues to be one of the most popular on this blog, but I no longer live there – I haven’t for almost two years. Again, thank you so much for your input!

  44. choi
    August 11, 2017 / 7:19 am

    I agree with your opinion bacause i’m korean and then i well know that’ reason. korean society is very strict maybe about woman. most korean female do makeup,when they don’t want we do in korea. And then we need to act cute. It’s so terrible thing and always keep smile. To live as female in korea. Women must beautiful,soft and don’t tell opinion womanself. maybe unhappiness thing. I agree with your opinion.

  45. Adrian
    August 14, 2017 / 4:55 am

    Hi. I am Korean living in Korea for nearly my whole life and you’ve pointed out quite well.
    The thing is Korea is even worse for non-caucasian. If you’re caucasian, I would definitely say that your life is much easier than others. And things are generally better for Americans.
    I started attending international school when I was 9th grade, and I did see my teachers going through absurd events in Korea as well. Like some crazy people taking photos… (seriously they need to be punched on the face)
    I an sorry that you had to go through that, and I would have appreciated your post even more if it talked more about gender inequality. Seriously TERRIBLE COUNTRY for women to live in.
    Anyway sorry to read that you had hard time in Korea. I dream of escaping Korea as well.
    But I used to think Korea was better for foreigners to live in. Especially for English speakers.
    I pretend to be a foreigner outside every now and then and sometimes IT IS BETTER than being Korean.
    Overall… yeah.. terrible country to live in.

  46. ELLE
    August 17, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    I’m pretty confused about Korea.

    Seoul is a very comfortable city, but :
    – The main thing that bothers me here is how vain people are. That exists in all countries but it’s taken to another level here. So many groups are seen as “less than”, it’s sickening.
    – The second thing : koreans cut you off if you express any discomfort about their country, mind you I do NOT criticize it unless my opinion is sollicited. But when asked, I tell the truth with respect, no more texts or phone calls. I lost long time friends when I spoke for the 1st time (in over 3 years, sometimes, which was my mistake). I say how I feel within a month or two now, to get cut off earlier if I can’t have an honest conversation.
    – Third thing : singleness is seen as a disease. If you’re single past 28, something is wrong with you. If you’re not married by 30, you’re a failure. But I think this is asian, not just korean.

    I also had to deal with crooked landlords and it changed the way I perceive people here. I used to think they had a hard time hiding their true colors but sometimes this is just “faking innocence/spontaneity”.

    Before coming to Korea I was very interested in the culture. The 1st year, I was in love. After 2 years, I’m not sure I belong here anymore. I’m not white either, which is a bit more challenging. While I enjoy the comfort of Seoul, the food, hanging out with a friend at 3am just because, I have lost sight of who I was. I struggle to leave the house without makeup. Body image is not as good. I’m single now and feel pressured to be with someone. I’m not a “high heel” girl although feminine, so I don’t wear that in a party either, girls give me dirty looks. My confidence is crumbling. I think I’ll most likely leave next year.

    • August 18, 2017 / 4:03 am

      I felt very uncomfortable there as well – particularly when asked my opinion about living there. I definitely understand all of the problems you’re dealing with. If you’re not happy, it’s probably best to leave and get back out into the world. I appreciate the fact that I left so much – I don’t miss it one bit… except for the food!

  47. Tony
    August 22, 2017 / 10:03 am

    I get it. Deep down you are intolerant of those who are different than you. I live in Southern California. It takes special set of skills and a deep sense of calmness to deal with so many people from so many different cultures. I don’t think you’ll last a month here. Every culture has its own unique idiosyncrasies which if you let them could ruin your day, everyday. But if you have patience and openmindeness, those idiosyncrasies are what will make you fall in love with LA. By the way, some of the reasons you gave seem very trite. Why does it bother you so much when you see ads for plastic surgery? No one is asking you to get one. Ignore them. I see ads for drug addiction treatment everywhere in l..A. I am not bothered by them although it saddens me. I know drug users are everywhere. I don’t do drugs so I ignore them. As far as korean girls trying to act cute (another trite reason), is it more disgusting than many girls in LA acting like Kardashians and jersey shore bunch? There are many manipulative gold diggers everywhere in the US with no limits in how far they will go to get what they want. I see them everyday. You have the right to your opinion but I think the reasons you gave to turn away from the host country makes me wonder if you have deeper issues. Just my opinion. Good luck to you.

  48. Bill
    August 25, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    Hey Laura,

    Great post and very good point on vanity. My wife is from Korea and she always positions the rearview mirror so she can look at herself while she drives…..I don’t get it!!!

  49. Veranda
    August 30, 2017 / 12:17 am

    Sounds very much like my experience living in Guangzhou, China- the vanity, childishness, legless drinking, the.stares, i’m not white and the treatment thereof, the shadiness except I had one more thing to deal with, the stench! The city constantly smells like open sewers and they have the audacity to hold their noses whenever me or another black person is around them. Also they blatantly will.advertise for whites only in job adverts. They spit at your feet in restaurants and cough in your face on public transport, all without batting an eyelid.
    I learnt so much about my self, my perceptions of humanity (horrible treatment of animals too btw).
    I lasted one year. Will never go back.

  50. FromSeoul
    September 17, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    Because lots of asian culture is still stagged in 19C. I can find the common things of segregation, materilism, discrimination in lots of Asian countries. People do not know how to live together. I am not flunkey to western culture. I am just calling Korean culture is savage. Well I would love to say for the people who experienced uncomportable in Korea, “yes! we are ugly yet but soon we are going to get throw away the negative things and hope to show you guys our beauty.” instead “we are not!!” ” then do not come!!” “you are the only people who experienced that!! we are awesome!!” . I hope Korean be matured seriously. I apologise all of you guys bad experience in Korea and I hope you guys to tell the truth the darkside of Korean culture more.

  51. Sel
    October 4, 2017 / 7:02 am

    I’m of Korean heritage but essentially foreigner at heart and mind.
    I’m actually quite surprised at your blog because you almost 100% mirror my own opinions and thoughts.
    I remember visiting relatives and watching TV shows with blackface comedy and being utterly appalled. I recall being sneered at for wearing flip flops and no make up as is common practice back home.
    My face was too big and my eyes too slanted.
    I was told my demeanor is too loud and Im too “clever” – euphemism for bitchy or opinionated I believe.
    I was considered stiff and not feminine because I spoke naturally because the thought of sounding and acting cute past age 2 is gross . While I was Korean, I was metaphorically poked and prodded like a freak but I wasn’t here nor there.
    I was portrayed as unfaithful to my heritage when I began open discussions on my opinions on anything bad about Korea. My mum and even a colleague would actually have defensive tantrums when I brought up issues as if it was taboo. A rational discussion never ensued.
    Thanks for your post, I had a good read, a nod of acknowledment and the odd chuckle.

    • Elle
      January 5, 2018 / 3:38 am

      Sel, as a foreigner, I have learned not to even attempt to have serious discussion with a korean friend unless they have spent a lot of time or were born and raised in the west (like korean american, british, canadian etc). The locals do NOT want to challenge their perceptions of others, and as a black girl it truly hurts but I have accepted it. I remember losing a long time friend over criticizing the behavior of one person. I had a very hard time with a girl I had an argument with, who literally thought I should “bow down” to her and I didn’t want to back down. He thought I was bashing the entire nation and decided to cut me off. What a wakeup call to me. I learned the hard way that some subjects shouldn’t be brought up. It’s pretty ironic that it is the koreans from western countries who apologize to me for the discrimanation and prejudice I face in Korea, yet the locals don’t seem to see anything wrong with disrespecting me for being born with the “wrong color” in their view.

  52. Steve
    October 23, 2017 / 1:57 am

    Hello. My daughter wants to go to South Korea as an exchange student through the National Security Initiative for Youth program. She is currently 15. I am wondering what you think of this idea based on your experiences there. As far as I know, her interest seems to be based on her interest in Kpop.

    • Elle
      January 5, 2018 / 3:46 am

      She won’t have any major issues as an exchange student because it is well-organized and the students are supervised and protected. She will live in a dorm with other students, will be surrounded by tons of other foreign students if she ever finds it hard to adjust to the country. And she will get to know tons of young korean students who are just as young as she is, don’t know much about life, and are therefore curious. It’s when you are surrounded by the 25+ people that imo it gets difficult because they are set in their ways. Especially by 30. Since I’m in my 30s this is the crowd I’m dealing with (30 and older). Exchange students have a different experience. However, it does happen that some students feel completely lost and can’t adjust. In that case she should tell you, pay for a plane ticket and leave the country immediately. I would suggest she waits until she is at least 19-20 to go there as an exchange student.

  53. Tata
    October 26, 2017 / 8:09 pm

    Hello dear,
    I have a question about finding a full-time job. If I can graguate from a top university in korea with good GPA , can I find a job as a non-korean girl?

    • October 29, 2017 / 12:42 pm

      I’m not too sure. You’ll have to ask someone else in your position =)

    • Elle
      January 5, 2018 / 3:50 am

      I am sure it does exist but this is a rare case, because it seems to me that koreans think that if a korean can do what you can do, without the language barrier (you don’t speak like a native), why give you the job ? You may have a better chance in an international company that in a purely korean company. I’m not telling you not to apply, I’m just telling you not to get your hopes too high.

  54. Sunny
    October 28, 2017 / 12:28 am

    There are still many people who like living in korea .
    If you don’t like here, do not come. You are absolutely not welcomed by korean. Do not make people confused and misunderstand about korea by bias or the way you think .You are also not ready to accept other cultures…sometimes we should respect their own cultures although it seems hard. Do not come again please

    • October 29, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      I included a disclaimer at the top. Look harder next time instead of commenting with blind rage. Thank you for reading!

    • Elle
      January 5, 2018 / 3:52 am

      It’s always the foreigners’ fault, how about self-reflection ? Maybe just MAYBE sometimes, koreans are at faults ?

  55. Mark
    October 28, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    I lived in Korea for two years and agree with pretty much everything you say. By the end I was more than glad to leave, and actually thought that one year would have been more than enough. I know a lot of people who like it, but I’m just not one of them.

    The racism was probably the worst part of it for me. I have never experienced it to that extent anywhere else before, and I am a white, tall, reasonably good-looking white guy. I have thick skin, but being verbally abused in public, having female friends also yelled at in Korean, and a bunch of other stuff, was really just too much. Like you I like some aspects of the place, but could never totally warm up to Korea.

  56. Stephenie
    October 30, 2017 / 11:33 pm

    I found this when I was checking out how living in Korea would be like, I am currently in a relationship with a Korean, he is thinking of opening his business in the states but to be honest how its going here now, I’d be afraid for him and his business. I wanted to see what it would be like living there so I was searching online, plus I talked to my friend’s cousin who lived there (she had to move after 5 years due to her husbands job) and she loved it, she wish she hadn’t left, so this read makes me a bit confused..

  57. Gwen
    November 3, 2017 / 2:18 am

    korean are racist and dodgy race I’ve ever met.
    the guys are player and their lady are fucking arrogant.

  58. Elizabeth G.
    November 7, 2017 / 2:10 am

    Thanks for writing this. After all the “I love Korea” comments I seem to read and hear lately, I sometimes wonder if it’s the same place we’re all talking about.

    I also taught there for about as long as you did (though starting back in 2010), and apart from maybe the first one or two months I gradually grew to really, truly dislike the place. It’s such a vain, shallow, materialistic, superficial society, lorded over by a few corporations, its people caught up in a very consumerist lifestyle, and many of whom just choose to drink their lives away. I suspect partly because they’re depressed about it all, partly because there really just isn’t much else to do. I in turn found it all a little bit depressing too.

    Some of the people were really nice, I have to say, and I would never take that away from Koreans. I had some of them help me out when I really needed it, and despite running into some not-so-pleasant people too, would never lump them all in together. And there are things to like about Korea, sure, I didn’t dislike every bit of it, and I have positive memories too.

    Overall though I guess it’s just really not my kind of place. Japan is better in pretty much every way possible, IMO, and China in most ways too. I honestly can’t see myself ever going back.

    • November 25, 2017 / 4:32 pm

      I feel the same way. I always found Koreans to be helpful and generally respectful, which I’ll always be grateful for. With that said, I’ve happily relocated to Vietnam and don’t see myself returning to Korea any time in the near future =)

  59. Ronnie L
    November 15, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    Do not move to Korea. I am a white man from America. I get treated pretty well here. My girlfriend is Korean American. She has 6 years of graduate school, advanced degrees and a Phd and is obviously smarter than me. I get more offers for the same jobs we apply for. Once you get a job, Korean employees will do everything to bait and switch you and breaking promises on contracts. What are you going to do, take them to court? lol. Expats (waygooks) have no rights. If you are robbed, assaulted and raped, don’t bother going to the police. The most upset I saw a Korean was when he asked me about “Yankee go home!” I told him I wasn’t offended because I am proud to be a Yankee. He was frustrated nothing bothered me.

  60. LetsFight
    November 19, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    It is all About korea and american but what about other countries like india do they still think the same?

    • November 19, 2017 / 1:20 pm

      I’m not too sure as I’m writing from my own experience as this is a personal blog. I’m sure you could find something on Google. Thanks for reading!

  61. SolehahShehor
    November 20, 2017 / 8:52 am

    I always like korea for their cultures that i saw in a lot of kdrama and i really adore the country a lot. I didnt think at all that it could be this worst actually. This article wakes me up. I once thought to pursue my study in korea and have a job there one day. I have my own worries as i am a muslim and not as pretty as korean or american. Im just an average asian girl. I keep thinking if they could accept me and friends with me or hate me and being racist. This thought really scared me enough.

  62. Cole
    November 25, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    I can agree with most of this even though in end effect I don’t find it THAT bad here. I do think the current Korean wave flatters Korea a little too much, and I’m frankly still waiting for that to just hurry up and go away lol. But whatever, to each their own.

    In terms of the discrimination, I think that was a lot worse in the 90s and 2000s, from most stories I’ve heard. So they are moving forward in that regard, albeit slowly. If they could move past the superficiality and consumerism a bit it’d be a much more pleasant place to live too, I think.

    • November 25, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      I’m glad it’s changing! I left just about two years ago. When I lived there, a bar wrote a sign that stated, “NO AFRICANS ALLOWED” during the Ebola crisis; I encountered quite a few bars prohibiting foreigners as well – even in Hongdae! I legit hated living there when I wrote this post. I’m happily posted up in Vietnam and don’t see myself returning to South Korea at any point in the near future. I agree re: the anti-superficiality, but I doubt that will happen. Korea is known globally for this. Thanks for reading!

  63. Young Woo Kim
    December 2, 2017 / 10:44 pm

    I am Korean and I do agree with your post.

    You pointed out the cultural problems we all have. These problems are very well known that I don’t think any Koreans would be defensive against your statement. Indeed, many will agree with you.

    I have an American friend who wants to visit Korea. She is a fresher at a high school, and I try to be as honest as I can. I do tell her the good side of our culture, but also the dark side of it. Every culture has a bright and dark side, so it is important to acknowledge the two.

    I do recommend the book “Korean Unmasked” by Rhee Won Bok. It is a very honest account of Koreans, their culture and history. Its an old book, but many still remains valid.

  64. Sara
    December 3, 2017 / 6:54 pm

    I think a lot of these things apply to the Chinese as well. I certainly noticed that they place great emphasis on brand names, outward appearance, and the flaunting of wealth, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the cosmetic surgery industry is on the verge of taking off there (if it hasn’t already). They are also capable of being very patriotic and nationalistic., and childish tantrums are a thing there too (they call it “sa jiao”)..I’ve only been to Korea for a short visit on two occasions so I can’t really compare the two, but to me it sounds like they share a lot of traits.

  65. Tara
    December 5, 2017 / 7:28 pm

    I was thinking about moving to South-Korea, but maybe I should try a vacation there first. I am not an American so my opinion my be a bit different but probably not since I am from Europe. but if they say “no americans here” what about africans, europeans, …?

    • Mat
      December 19, 2017 / 12:06 am

      Do not worry. This is all-american BS. Just don’t go there full of stereotypes, open your eyes but see through your heart, and you’ll feel like living there forever.

      A European expatriate.

      • Mika
        January 6, 2018 / 11:36 am

        I am European too and I would definitely not call it “all-American BS.”

        Korea is a stressful society with an emphasis on vanity and a strong consumerist culture, and a lot of people find it is not for them. That said, others do like it so I would keep an open mind and give it a try. A vacation will not give you the best idea of if you will like it, though.

        • S Lee
          January 14, 2018 / 2:52 am

          A vacation with lots of conversation with Korean natives and foreigners in Korea would definitely help his judgement.

  66. Allen
    December 31, 2017 / 3:27 pm

    Yea, I agree with most of the things you said. Its not that bad living here, if you don’t really “understand” culture here and except it then most likely, you’ll have hard time living here. Did you think that south korea was such a good country to live because of what you’ve heard? You knew that there was going to be some cons when you got here, didn’t you? And if you were teaching english, at least you made pretty good money, better than what average Koreans make here. I have been living in korea for little over nine years now. As I was reading your blog and seeing the picture of you in that crowed subway, I can almost feel what you are and was going through for two years, especially if you were handling it on your own without your family close by. If living here was tough for you, then that made you a stronger person and you should be thankful, thankful to sk for letting that happen. Wasn’t it amazing though, living in korea going through all that? No cars you can’t buy, no food you can’t eat, no clothes you can’t wear without feeling shame? Pay late bills and your cell won’t get shut off, pay late rents and your furniture don’t get tossed out.

    Korea is like Disneyland, every ride has its restrictions and rules

    My best advice for foreigners to start their lives in south korea is to adopt and overcome

    • Elle
      January 5, 2018 / 4:10 am

      No it’s not Disneyland, I used to think like you but I find may foreigners wear blinders because they want to stick to that “super-kind koreans” concept that they have in their minds. Granted it’s not that horrible to live here, but it’s far less appealing than it is promoted to be, Social life for an expat is extremely challenging. Material comfort doesn’t replace human experience. Is it possible to conceive that not everyone is going to enjoy a country no matter how hard they try ? She doesn’t have to be thankful for the hard times, some experiences are not necessary in life. If she’s happier in Vietnam, it is Vietnam that she should thank, not Korea.

  67. Just an observation by a Korean American
    January 2, 2018 / 1:33 am

    Men and women have extremely different experiences in any patriarchal culture.
    It’s the age-old sword ♂ and. the mirror ♀.

  68. John Dough
    January 3, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    Fuck South Korea this country ain’t shit without America and they try to copy everything but their gay culture fucks everything up people aren’t that nice either these koreans just act nice but everyone can clearly tell that they don’t give fucks everyone here just copies and follows everything what everyone else is wearing or going you barely see anyone with their own style just too stubborn too conceded always actin too smart just for anything gay fucks Ranked #2 most suicide o country in the world all the females here are just fucked in the head and they all secretly hate guys 19 year olds are more like 15 and 24 year olds are more like 18 Soju here is cheap because they know that its mandatory for these people or else they go crazy you can’t even fight here I’ve seen dudes slapping each other like homos because if they use their fist that’ll leave a mark and will cause you to pay huge fines like 1000 usd one of my friend pore water on some girls face at a club she called the cops on him and he had to pay her 900 usd this country is just corrupted in ways that people outside the country don’t know about Trump really should have taking back the troops back to the states and hit korea with a realty check sorry if I offend anyone who reads this but S.Korea you are nowhere near READY

  69. Racism Sucks
    January 3, 2018 / 10:08 pm

    Casual racism is something that the South Koreans will have to deal with if they hope to be part of the global community. Whether they like it or not, they will have to be more tolerant of people different from themselves unless they should decide to close off their borders and live like their brothers up north in Kim Jeong Eun Land. Having said that, it’s asking too much to expect the South Koreans to conform to the standards of Western liberal democracy. Universalism and individuality are intellectual traits that are unique to Western civilization. But, on the other hand, there are some benefits to living in South Korea that hard-working Americans without passports would appreciate – $80 per night for being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at hospital and a $20 per ride to call an ambulance (dirt-cheap health insurance covers the rest). What good is individuality if you can’t pay your medical bill when you get treated for cancer? And, oh, did I mention that the most expensive private colleges in Korea charge tuition that is about 15-20% of what you pay to go to Princeton? And here’s the best part: no South Korean cop in his right mind would pull out his gun and kill a black person who resists arrest and gives a cop or two a bloody nose unless it’s a terrorist situation or hostage crisis. 10% of Koreans are ethnic minorities who immigrated to South Korea from abroad; they are grossly under-represented in Korea’s prison population. Yet again, what’s the point of being politically correct towards African Americans in the media when they represent 5% of the population in the United States and take up 40% of the prison population in the places where they live? But again, the blackened face and watermelon part is all wrong. I wonder where the South Koreans got the racial stereotype from…

  70. January 4, 2018 / 12:14 am

    I don’t know if you still read comments on this post, but I’m so sorry you had to go through that!!

    I did want to say that the sauna situation might have been a misunderstanding because you’re supposed to shower before you go into the water, and a lot of my non Korean friends made that mistake!

    Also, as a Korean female, I’ve only ever been harassed by drunk American dudes in Korea so I half wondered if that’s why some Koreans distrusted foreigners. It’s still really a shame that you had such negative experiences though! Genuinely hoping you’re happier wherever you are now!!

  71. S*****korea
    January 13, 2018 / 2:35 am

    S.korea is dictatorship country by a single ethnic

  72. Mike
    January 18, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    Hi Laura, I get the sense that you really hate South Korea but that you don’t want to come across as being spiteful and bitter. But do not worry as I totally know how you feel. Koreans bring out the worst in me. I’m a forty something korean American male former banker turned English teacher and I’ve been living and working in Seoul for several years now. As soon as my contract is over I will never ever return. I’ve never ever met such delusionally arrogant and mentally ill sociopathic, narcissistic people in my entire life. Koreans freak me out, I’ve also traveled all over and no one is as blatantly rude, insolent and twisted like many of the people here. When you show kindness and friendliness to people here, they mistake it as if you’re showing them deference and they become offensively arrogant. It’s the most pathetically laughable thing because everyone knows that most Asians in general are mocked and seen as a joke in America, I’ve had mostly western friends and girl friends all my life and have never felt any attraction for korean girls so it really seems ridiculous how korean girls are so full of themselves. I’ve got issues with the arrogant young guys as well, but most of my problems have to do with the young korean women. Before you think I’m some bitter, ugly loser who can’t find girls, I just need to say that I’ve never really had any problems dating American and European women. I’ve also had many korean girls come after me, so my problem isn’t due to unattractiveness on my part. I just don’t find korean girls physically attractive. They don’t have maturity, personality or charm. Most seem deludedly uppity, mentally unstable and extremely superficial and materialistic, my loathing and contempt for korean women is due to their bizarreness, Let me give you some of the many many experiences I’ve endured from them here.
    When I first came to Korea during my early 20s straight after graduating from college in USA, I befriended a guy my age. This was during the 90s. He was really eager to be my friend because I was from America and at that time I was more of a rarity than nowadays. I thought he was genuinely interested in being my friend, but he just wanted to hang with me so he could show me off to his friends. One day he invited me to dinner and drinks with 3 of his college buddies. I accepted. When we met there were two girls and two guys. All were his Korean friends and they knew each other very well from college. I was the only stranger, but I acted politely and tried to include myself in their conversation. I wasn’t being aloof or naughty and listened to all they said and tried to laugh at their boring jokes etc. However they didn’t make much effort to try to include me. They mostly spoke among themselves. At some point one of the girls suddenly directed her attention towards me and in a sneering tone demanded “Mr. Park do you think better than us just because you’re from America?!” I was taken aback by this uncalled for aggressiveness, but I humbly apologised and said “Well actually I’m ashamed that I cannot speak korean fluently.” We (mostly they) had been talking in korean all this time and I didn’t use English at all. She didn’t even have the grace to accept my apology/humble explanation. She simply ignored me and continued to talk with her friends. About 5 minutes later she said loudly “you know what kind of guy I like? I like guys with short cropped hair who dash for the bus for work early in the morning.” This was probably directed at me, because I had longish hair and was a history major and had mentioned that I had been visiting the korean national library every day to learn about korean history.
    Another time I was at the British library to peruse and borrow some English language books. The entire library was empty except for the young female receptionist and one female korean visitor who was about 22 like me. This was in the 90s. I was standing between bookshelves quietly minding my own business perusing a book, when the female approached me and said hello to me. I politely said hello in return with a slight bow, and then returned to my book, She walked away and I thought that was it, but about 5 minutes later she suddenly stormed towards me and punched me. I was so shocked but I wouldn’t hit a girl, so I simply raised my voice and demanded what the hell she was doing. But she tried to hit me again. So I pushed her away and she continued to try and hit me. I was exasperated and looked at the female receptionist and asked her if she was seeing all this. The receptionist simply chuckled and shrugged her shoulders.

    Now I’d like to relate some other bizarre experiences I’ve endured from young korean in the last several years, Just remember that now I’m in my 40s.
    1. Recently, my boss asked me to sit in on a class taught by a female twentysomething Korean English instructor. I reluctantly agreed and when I arrived early for the class i tried to be a safe unobtrusive as possible by sitting as far away next to the wall away from her students. And when the female instructor walked in I bowed politely and said “Anyeong hase Yeo.” She just glared at me with a snarl and stared at me. She already knew I was going to be there so she knew who I was, but she didn’t even acknowledge my greeting. She started teaching and about ten minutes later told her students to do some written excercise. WHen every body was silent, she suddenly turned on me and angrily yelled at me “Why are you here?! Why?! Why?! Why?!” I remained calm and asked her if her boss hadn’t told her. SHe simply ignore me. I was fuming but waited until the class ended. I waited for her outside the class and quietly asked her what’s her problem was. But she just got nasty and made sarcastic remarks,
    2. I had to visit the SK office building and was in the lobby and headed towards security turnstiles to get the elevator. As I was walking towards the turnstiles a female SK office worker in her twenties passed through the turnstiles and was headed towards me. We were about 20 feet away from each other facing each other. As we were walking towards each other at thst distance she bared her teeth like a dog and snarled at me. What the hell!?
    3. I was in the Jogno 3ga subway station and was about to walk up the stairs when a 30 something korean female walking down barged into me. I was so fed up with this sort of routine that this time instead of speaking in korean i yelled at her in English “Watch where you’re going you idiot!” She turned around approached me and then grabbed me by my elbow and proceeded to drag me up the stairs. She was a girl so I didn’t hit her although I really really wanted to. I was wearing an expensive coat and didn’t want it ruined so I had no choice to walk up the stairs with her. At the top of the stairs I kept telling her to let go, but she continued to grab my elbow and drag me. People were staring but no one did anything. Suddenly two American Mormons asked what was going on and I told them. At this point the female midget psycho Klingon let go of my elbow. After I finsished talking to the two sane Americans, i started walking away, but the korean freak started stalking me, so I tried to walk faster and she also stated walking faster. I had to start running. I hailed a taxi and got in but the woman stood right in front of the cab and the driver refused to move, so I had to get out and started running. She chased after me but I finally lost her in the market area.
    Please remember these korean women were all midgets with matchstick limbs and I am pretty strong for a korean. I’m 5 foot 10inches and 155 pounds, I also work out with heavy weights so I’m pretty athletic. If these were guys I’d have punched the crap out of them but I didn’t.
    4. This experience took place in USA. I was walking along an empty street in Harlem in nyc at around 10 PM. So the streets were empty and dark. I was minding my own business walking when i short pudgy korean American female jogger in her early 20s was jogging towards me, about 10 feet away she said “Oh God!” And then proceeded to veer towards me so that she purposely barged into me as she jogged past me. I had done nothing. I wasn’t staring at her and besides if I was, then she should’ve been weary of me since I was male and it was a dark and empty street.
    5. Still in New York, I decided to visit a korean owned photography store because I knew the korean guy who owned it. When I walked in he was with some other Koreans. They were moving furniture. I said hello to his korean visitors and told him Id help him move. At this one of his friends, a korean female in her 30s started ordering me around telling me where to move the desk, table etc. I was really offended. Here was this ugly jumped up korean woman that didn’t even know me and she stsrts tellin* me what to do. She was a total straight off the boat korean who didn’t speak any English and I was an American whom she didn’t even know. And she starts ordering me around. We were similar in age, mid 30s at that time,
    What I’ve noticed about Koreans in general is that they are totally delusional as well as very frustrated and angry. Totally twisted and mentally ill. If you try to be nice and polite to them, they’ll think you’re showing them deference and start becoming arrogant. And if you and a korean are walking towards a door and you show them consideration by slightly giving way, they’ll shove you out of the way even more, because they think you’re being deferential. No class whatsoever. They always feel the need to desperately overcompensate for their inferiority complex by jumping at any chance to put other people down. It’s so patheticetlly desperate.
    6. Last month I visited Spain for Christmas holidays. I really needed to get away from Koreans and wanted to be in Europe which is a place I love. But I knew a lot of Korean tourists would also be there, so I was anxious. I decided to get a pair of glasses before my trip. I’ve needed glasses for years but never bothered, but felt it was really required to spot Koreans from a mile away so I could avoid them. I was going on vacation to Europe and away from psycho korea so I didn’t want my well earned and well paid for vacation spoiled by some rude Koreans, when I got to Europe, I visited Toledo. I had always dreamed of visiting it. I only had the morning until 2PM to tour Toledo, because I had to take a 2PM train to meet a friend for dinner in Madrid. And I wanted to visit a lot of landmarks that’s I’d researched for several years. But every time I spotted a group of Koreans I immediately turned around and ducked into an alley or shop etc, because I really didn’t want my vacation turning ugly by some rude insolent psycho korean barging into me, glaring at me, cutting me off etc. It’s bad enough for that to happen every single day in Korea, but I dreaded that happening in Europe, I had dreamed of visiting for over 10 years and paid good money for my trip.So the entire morning i kept dodging Koreans and I was losing a lot of precious time, But it was worth the aggravation. Finally i went to the train station for my trip to Madrid and my dinner with my good friend there, But at the train station I was starving because I hadn’t had anything to eat all day and with all the running around I was exhausted. I spotted a hotdog stand walked towards it expectantly, but with my glasses on i spotted a group of young korean tourists waiting in line. So in order to avoid that I dragged my suitcase all over the place to find another food vendor, Finally I spotted a food court and walked in all along dragging my suitcase behind me. The food court was almost empty and i walked towards the buffet area, when I saw. 30ish Chinese woman walking towards me with a food tray, Although she was walking towards me she wassnt anywhere near me and we could’ve walked past each other with wide berth between us, but at the last minute she suddenly veered towards me and cut me off. I was dragging a suitcase and it took all my effort to react to her sudden onslaught, if I hadn’t stopped as fast as I did, she would’ve have collided into my face and since I was dragging my suitcase it was quite difficult. But she didn’t even apologise let alone look at me and walk towards a table nearby and plopped on her seat. I turned around and in an even voice I calmly said in English “You are very rude.” She didn’t even look at me, but her 30ish pint sized midget dwarf of a husband suddenly got up from his chair and stormed towards me all the while yelling arrogantly. He demanded angrily in very bad guttural piglike Engrish “HEY HEY HEY!! WHO ARE YOU! WHERE ARE YOU FROM! IM FROM KOREA!!” He was smaller than me but he stood right in my face and pretended to sucker punch me a few times. I was some Hans as I had the flu and cough. I was also really mortified because there were some civilised Europeans around and I really didn’t want to embarrass myself. So i told the korean midget I was from America, but he taunted me a snow scoffed. Then he pretended to punch me and yelled “Do you want to fight!?” I told him calmly “No I don’t want to fight you.” He then walked away and went back to the table where his wife and baby were as he swore at me in korean. “Shiball saeki!!”
    I was so offended so I walked out of the food court with my suitcase but I couldn’t find a food vendor. So after about 15 minutes I hadn’t no choice but to return to the food court out as I was really hungry and needed food before my train trip. As soon as the automatic glass doors opened the insolent jumped up korean woman looked up from her food tray and gave me a long smirking grin to taunt me. Normal,y when you’ve had a minor argument with a stranger and some time hasn’t passed normal people pretend not to notice one antiher, but most Koreans are like emotionally stunted juvenile delinquents and find the need to cause trouble. I was so angry that’s I told her she was an ugly monkey, of course that triggered her equally ugly monkey like midget husband and once again he angrily jumped out of his seat and stormed towards me in his gutteral bad English yelling and gibbering. He was storming towards me in a threatening manner so I started filming him with my phone. Suddenly his wife also walked towards me and they both demanded in laughable Konglish that i delete it. The husband said he’d get the police, to which his self righteous wife nodded and turning to him nodded at him and said to him “uh porice.” I mean what a bunch of delusional mentally ill barbarians. They cause trouble, phyiscially barge into me, threaten me, swear and yell at me, continue to cause trouble when I return and now they wanted to call the police.
    So i walked out and the midget husband chased after me. He spotted two uniformed train station employees and thought they were the police and started telling them what had happened conveniently leaving out all the causes and his role in it. They said they weren’t police and didn’t do anything and walked away. At this the korean started demaning that i delete my recording but at this point I was so riled up that I gave him a really intimidating stare and told him to get the fxxk away before I hurt him, he must’ve finally realised I wasn’t the push over he hadn’t thought I was and walked away with a confused frustrated laugh. Needless to say my entire trip from that point forward was totally ruined. I felt so bitter and angry that I couldn’t enjoy my vacation anymore. It took all my will power to pretend I was in a good mood when met my dear friend for dinner that night. I hadn’t seen him for over 10 years and didn’t know when I’d see him again. I’m sure they you know that black ugly bitter sinking feeling when you’ve dealt with an ugly insolent alienlike rudeness offensive korean. It’s like being psychically raped deep down into your very soul. It’s like getting whacked by the raw fermented garlic that violates every single orifice in you’re body. A total invasion. But factor in the feeling of having waited over ten years to visit your favourite place. And to finally escape from all that’s unholy aggravation and disgusting freakiness just to have that typical Korean ugliness happen to you. Having gotten a pair of glasses just to avoid it and then to take every conscious effort to avoid them. Spending half the time turning away from all those landmarks and destinations you’ve looked so forward to visiting because you wanted to avoid koreans. After having waited so long, having come so far and having paid good money, It’s a cruel joke,
    Finally I want to tell you what happened today. I had to visit the dentist. My family in korea have known this dentist for decades and the dentist himself isn’t a good guy. He’s in his 70s. But the two nurses that work for him are rude, arrogant and don’t know how to behave like civilised people. Last week i visited them for an initial check up, I was talking on the phone with a friend when I reached the glass door to the dentist office. Since I was speaking in English and didn’t want to seem arrogant i stopped right before I was about to enter and carried on my phone call for about 30 seconds after which I opened the glass door. I was about to say hi to the female receptionist but she had a slightly frozen hostile look. Even though I was a well established client and about 10 or more years older than her didn’t bow, After the visit was over and I was leaving she said goodbye but I wasnt happy with her initial behaviour so I gave her a short goodbye. As soon as I reached the exit i heard her snort. I ignored her. I find it really rude thst barely greeted me as she should have and also that she didn’t have the self control to keep her snorting to herself. Koreans just do not know how to behave properly and let their emotions get the better of them. Just like little babies.
    Today I revisited the dentist and didn’t mention anything, But this time the other nurse was rude. I was seated in the dentist chair with a cotton Q tip in my mouth anaesthetiise my gums. As I was lying there she plucked the Q tip out of my mouth without saying anything and told me in an officious tone to rinse. I let that go. When I was done and standing in front of the receptionist desk the old dentist spoke to me from 20 feet away. Since he knew my famly and me he wasn’t telling me not to worry about my cavity. As I was directly facing him, the nurse who had plucked then q tip from my mouth, looked up from her work station and stared at me with a cold, judging stare. She was standing half way between me and the elderly dentist so I had no choice but to meet her stare, but since I was on good terms with the dentist, I had to draw my gaze away from her insolent stare and look at the dentist with a pleasant expression. I then said goodbye to the dentist and only then did the nurse turn away. But she didn’t say goodbye. SInce I was gazing in her direction and past her towards the dentist she could have been polite and returned my goodbye since it could’ve been meant for her as well. And since I am a customers, After having engaged me with her cold stare she didn’t even say goodbye.
    So far I ve only spoken of my experiences with korean women. I’ve had equally bad experidne2s with korean men but at least with em I can get abusive if need be, but I find it really infuriating that I cannot do the same with the rude women.
    As I’ve said before, all my girlfriends were white. All my male friends were also white. I never had any Koreans friends and never felt attracted to Korean women. WHite and black friends and strangers have told me I’m good looking and I i even had a European girls fly all the way to America to stalk me. So this isn’t about me not being able to date women, it’s not about me being bitter about that. But all these bad experiences with Koreans has indeed left me bitter. I feel only loathing, contempt and disgust for them, I would overlook their rudeness and savage bad manners, but I find it infuriating and laughablly ridiculous at how delusionally arrogant they are. We all know that many Americans looked down on Koreans and also laugh and mock them as if they look amusing. SO I find it’s really ridiculous that Koreans think they are so great. The Japanese also call korea the land of psychos and criminals. I agree. Just look at all the twisted and perverse koreans who derive pleasure from being mean and cruel to strangers who have never done them wrong. ANd koreans also derive enjoyment from being rude and uppity when you treat them with good manners and polite consideration. The women are so vain and superficial. THey get all that fake plastic surger and skin whitening cream to pretend to be someone they aren’t. I find it laughablly contemptible.

    • Mike
      January 18, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      Hi again. I’ve noticed some spelling errors.
      I meant to sY the elderly dentist is actually a nice and good guy. But my iPad autocorrect keeps messing up my words.
      Also, after the rude nurse plucked the q tip from my mouth and officiously told me to rinse, much time passed. After my dental surgery was done, I got up and stood next to the receptionist desk. That’s when the rude nurse gave me her cold judging stare.
      The way I wrote about it above made it sound like she started at me very soon after the q tip plucking incident.
      and finally, the dentist was an old family acquaintance so he was telling me kindly that I shouldn’t worry about my cavity. In my comments it sounded like he was telling me to worry.
      Thanks

  73. Chris
    January 21, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    I know your blog post is a little older and you’re probably since far removed from it. But I wanted to thank you for your candidness because at the beginning of my time in Korea, I felt like I was the only one who couldn’t wait to get back to my home country! I have been subjected to my ethnocentric neighbor’s childish and arrogant behavior and I’ve developed moderate to severe asthma due to the poor air quality. I am thankful I’ve met two million nice Koreans to every one jerk, which is a much better ratio than in the States, but I’m still ready to go home when the time comes! 🙂

    I see you’re living in Vietnam now. I did have a great (but too short) visit there!

  74. will5967
    January 21, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    Thanks for writing this. It’s not easy to come out and be perfectly frank and honest in, or about, Asia. I know. I lived in Taiwan for 5 1/2 years, Shanghai, China for 6 months (which was all I could stand), and have been in South Korea now for 9 years. I don’t go out much. And when I do, I have to carry a trash bag with me, because I just can’t stand the LITTER anymore.

    Chinese AND Koreans litter something fierce. And I’m sure you know they don’t put out public trash cans in most cases. So if I were to make my own list of things that I can’t stand about South Korea (because I could also make a real doozy about Taiwan, too), it would include the casual attitude that Koreans (and Chinese) have about litter.

    Cigarette butts, wrappers, cans, bottles, you name. Koreans just seem to think that it’s somebody else’s job to pick up after them. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I think their long history of indigenous slavery has a lot to do with it. I’ve read accounts that said at some points in their history, more than 70% of the population were slaves.

    So I think that’s why they seem to have this notion (without actually THINKING about it) that everyone has their job, their chore on the plantation. And THAT ain’t THEIR chore. For some reason…. And cleaning up isn’t their job unless it’s in their own home, and it affects them DIRECTLY. It’s also a Chinese cultural thing too, I’ve noticed. But even worse in China and Taiwan. And it’s just disgusting. Not to mention not real good for the environment. Because “culture” doesn’t excuse all bad human habits and traits. It just doesn’t. After all, the Nazis had a culture too. It grew out of thousands of years of the darker side of German culture. And we all know how that ended.

    So yeah, I want desperately to get out of Korea and never ever have to come back. It’s a long story, but after I couldn’t take living in Taiwan any more, I went back to the US, and… well… didn’t exactly get a lot of help from my folks in trying to re-acclimate. Then the Obama economy hit, and the only jobs I was getting offered were to go teach in Korea because I’d taught in Taiwan for so long. That was even more frustrating than Korea has been (or I wouldn’t have made it for nine years here), but I was trying to pay off my student loans at the time.

    Anyway, thanks again, for being honest. These days, everything and anything gets a person accused, tried and convicted (in the court of public opinion) of “racism.” Or you’re a “Trump supporter.” Which seems to be great sport for a lot of virtue signalling people who usually haven’t even been outside of the comfy confines of their inherited, idealistic, spoiled, little Western world. Either way, believe, I grew up on Star Trek, and the “diversity is our strength” thing. So Gene Roddenberry’s grand, Utopian vision of a future where everybody just all gets along on the good ship Enterprise unfortunately just did not prepare me at all for the Real World. It certainly didn’t prepare me for the ugly, “racist” things I overheard the Chinese say on a regular basis, when they thought I hadn’t bothered to learn their language.

    I certainly was not prepared for the dogs I was forced to see butchered for meat in public during my first month here in South Korea. But then… some Jewish girl from New Zealand (and originally I really liked her BECAUSE she was Jewish, because I’d never met a lot of Jewish people before) and her “African American” friend from the US led me to that market that day. On the way in the subway car, they cracked jokes about me being the preferred piece of foreign meat for the Korean “whitey wranglers.” I guess I’m not supposed to think that was “racist” of them, huh?

    Either way, I had no idea what was going to be there at that market. They didn’t tell me a thing, but they had been in Korea for a while, so they both must have known fully well what I’d be forced to witness. I was horrified when I saw the fresh dog meat, and the sad looking dog waiting dutifully by the butcher’s table to be the next one in line. I took photos of the dog meat and the dogs in pens waiting to be slaughtered on demand, so those two gals just disappeared into the crowd that day. They abandoned me. I didn’t even know exactly how to get back to the subway. I made it back, but it took a while on my own. And if I hadn’t been lost a few times in Taiwan, I wouldn’t have made it back that day either.

    Dog eating was thing in Taiwan and China too, of course, I always just heard about it. There weren’t any open air markets that butchered dogs on demand that I ever saw. In Taiwan, there are a LOT of three legged dogs. They get hit by cars, I saw frequently. Then somebody comes out with a butcher knife and hacks a busted limb off. Makes good soup, I was told quite frequently in Taiwan. But yeah, it’s not easy to find TRUE foreign expat “friends” in Asia, I’ve noticed. Most of the expats just get drunk together on the weekends. But then, misery does love company, as they say. Again, I applaud your courage. I hope that now, Korea is behind you and that you’re never forced to go back over here.

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