Kindness in Korea

Kindness in Korea

If you know me well, you know that I haven’t always felt the most comfortable here in Korea. My first job was absolutely terrible, I’ve yet to have a good medical experience here, I’ve caught a few people taking up skirt photos of me (one resulting in the arrest of the man), I’ve caught a Peeping Tom filming me sleep and I was hit with a debilitating bout of depression that lasted several months. I honestly felt as though there was no kindness in Korea for quite some time.

While all of these circumstances were certainly trying, I have done my best to stay positive and understand that these situations could have happened anywhere in the world. They just coincidentally all happened within a two year time frame while living abroad which was extremely difficult to mentally process.

I’ve just come to term that the universe has thrown just about everything I can handle my way for the past few years. The only thing I can do is just walk away from the explosions like Steven Seagal does in all his movies.

Maybe this is more relevant.

Maybe this is more accurate.

Despite all the nonsense, one thing that really helped me feel okay living in Korea is the sense of community that exists here. As always, I believe life is all about balance and that my perception of it all can drastically affect my overall experience for the better or worse. For all the negative experiences I’ve had in the country, there are plenty more positive ones that I will choose to remember.

One of the best things that has happened to me here took place just a few days ago. I woke up with a sinking feeling in my gut that I was missing my wallet. I shot out of bed, searched through each of my purses and backpacks but couldn’t find it anywhere.

Of course I lose my Alien Registration Card and American credit card the week before I apply for my New Zealand visa,” I thought. “As if I’m not stressed enough as it is!

After channeling my inner Nancy Drew, I contacted all of the establishments I’d visited the weekend prior, to no avail. Call me naive or just a flat out idiot, but I hold a lot of trust in Koreans. At no point during this ordeal did I ever assume my credit card had been used (and it hadn’t), which makes me really glad that I didn’t cancel it right away.

The fact that my ARC has my address printed on the back gave me some hope. Koreans have a unique respect for other people’s belongings, so I kept telling myself that it was probably in the mail. After feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety for a few days, I returned home from work to find a note from a local police station on the door.

I literally squealed with joy as I ran inside to text everyone I knew who would be able to help me with some of the translation. A Korean friend called and informed me that someone had turned my wallet into the police station and it was currently held at a nearby post office. YOU GUYS, SOMEONE FOUND MY WALLET AND ANONYMOUSLY RETURNED IT OUT OF THE KINDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS. SIMPLY AMAZING.

The kindness in Korea in these types of situations is something that is difficult to find anywhere else. I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. While I’d like to think this is something that could potentially happen in my home country, I would say the situation would be incredibly uncommon.

So, cheers to you, Korea… and thank you for the act of kindness, random human. BNLyX41448957587



  1. December 1, 2015 / 1:20 pm

    It’s always so nice hearing these stories. One thing I do love about Korea is how honest people are at returning lost things. Scott lost his iphone in Everland and someone returned it and had it waiting for us at one of the information booths, that would never happen (rarely) back at home. We have also heard great stories of people losing stuff and getting it returned to them. It gives you a nice neighborly feeling, unless that neighbor is peeping at you through your windows! hahaha

      December 1, 2015 / 1:36 pm

      It’s mind blowing how common it is here! At the very worst, I thought it was being ignored on a sidewalk somewhere. Something like this *might* happen back home, but certainly isn’t close to being the norm. I definitely feel extremely lucky and need to get my shit together before I head out – nowhere else can I ever be this trusting!

  2. December 2, 2015 / 12:31 am

    Sorry people haven’t been so nice to you. I never felt at home in Japan, but I actually feel the opposite here. I’m super glad you found your wallet! Losing it is the worst feeling in the world. Thankfully, in Japan and Korea people are usually really kind and always return the belongings of others. I quite like that about both those cultures because in America, your shit would be gone in the blink of an eye and someone would be using your credit card without a second thought! When are you headed to New Zealand?

    • December 2, 2015 / 2:10 pm

      Yeah, I lost my debit card in Chicago and someone spend several hundred dollars within a matter of hours. Luckily I was able to get all the money back, but it is definitely a stark contrast to what is the norm in Korea. As far as the ridiculous things that have happened here, it’s not really a problem anymore. Shit happens! Life goes on and weird stuff like this could happen anywhere.

      Heading to NZ sometime next late spring or early summer after I do some traveling! <3

  3. December 2, 2015 / 3:36 am

    Korea is very kind. I haven’t ever lost anything, so I’ve never experienced kindness that way, but I have received kindness in other ways. I actually did a lesson with my high school students about kindness in Korea. I told them Korea is a really kind country and I love being here because of that.

    The other things you mentioned in the very beginning however, TOTALLY SUCK!

  4. December 2, 2015 / 10:49 am

    That’s such an awesome story of random kindness! I had a phone and motorcycle returned in similar ways… it really is a country where you can count on the people around you. Glad you had that experience to help balance out the rough stuff.

    Also, you’re going to New Zealand? Are you doing the working holiday program? If so, keep in touch! I head there for my working holiday next week 😀

    • December 2, 2015 / 2:05 pm

      Awesome! I will be doing the WHV yes! I’ll be heading to Auckland sometime late spring or early summer (er…winter for NZ!) I look forward to reading about your experience there. Will you have any home base or just beebopping around?

  5. December 2, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    I love hearing these kinds of stories! Living abroad can be so overwhelming and negative things can happen but you have the right attitude choosing to remember all the positive things that do happen!

    • December 2, 2015 / 1:59 pm

      Ya it was truly something that I a) NEEDED to happen to restore my faith in humanity and b) made me appreciate my time here so much more. I just can’t believe I live somewhere where it is all too common that people return these sorts of personal items completely in tact. I lost my debit card in Chicago once and someone racked up hundreds of dollars in a matter of hours before my bank cancelled it. Eighty of it was spent at a MCDONALD’S. What?!

  6. December 2, 2015 / 4:25 pm

    Wow. Great experience. Actually I would never expect that result anywhere in the world. It all comes down to the individual. Most as not noble enough to do the right thing, maybe just check it for money and toss it. But glad it worked out for you. It sounds you had a rough go for a while. It’s harder to remember the kind deeds someone shows us, our brains get hung up on the terrible situations. Like they say, don’t let a couple bad apples spoil everything.
    Thanks for you story I enjoyed it.

  7. December 6, 2015 / 6:31 am

    That is an incredible feather in the cap of Koreans and the Korean society in general. Aside the country being extremely safe, returning missing items is just mindblowing. I’ve had friends received their lost items, intact more than a couple of times. Personally, I left my wallet at one of the tills in a departmental store. After a couple of hours realizing, I returned to pick my wallet where I left it. I wished we had more of such attitudes in other countries. Unfortunately, that is the typical world so it can’t happen. However, I still remain cautious with my stuff as some friends have also shared bad experiences with their stuff left in Taxis.

  8. December 6, 2015 / 11:17 am

    I had a similar thing happen to me in China. I lost my wallet in a cab and the driver must have sold the brand wallet off and dumped all the cards into a dumpster at a rest stop. A Chinese man who speaks German (cause my license and stuff are from Germany) found it and sent everything to my German home address! There are kind people everywhere and when it happens it’s an amazing feeling! 🙂

  9. December 8, 2015 / 4:52 am

    The kindness and generosity is really something else here, isn’t it? When I lost something in Mexico, it was always a case of “Well, I’ll never see that again” because I knew that whoever found it would keep it, or if it was handed in to the police, they’d end up keeping it.

    Here people are so trusting, it’s unbelievable.

  10. December 10, 2015 / 2:54 am

    I love hearing stories like this. It’s one of my favorite things about Korea. I am really happy that you were able to get your wallet back. A friend of mine lost her wallet with about 400,000 Won inside and someone delivered it back to her. That just doesn’t happen everywhere you go. I am glad that I can now add your story to the list of great things that Koreans have done.

    by the way, that story about the peeping Tom is absolutely horrible, I’m sorry you had to go through that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *