Archives for category: Culture

After the standard questions EVERY Korean asks me when we meet for the first time (generally in this order)….”Where are you from?”, “How old are you?”,”Are you a teacher?”(notice “What’s your name?” is not included in the first 3 questions…that comes 5th or 6th)….they will no doubt ask “Why did you come to Korea?”. Because I dont seem to have much of an answer for this question, what occasionally follows is ” Well why did you come to Korea and not to Japan?”…and for this I dont have much of answer either…it just happened that I knew LESS about Korea…and this interested me.

However, one of the main reasons I wanted to move to Asia was to travel. In the several years I’ve been here I have left the country alot…but have only really gone to 3 other countries…mainly because I always end up going to Japan (5 times to be exact). Everytime I go I have a great time, and go away from it thinking that Japan is a great place to visit but maybe not as great of a place to live ( and I also am thinking how ridiculously hot the guys are…i mean seriously) . The reason I have always felt more comfortable in Korea over Japan is that while I often find that in Korea the random people that pass you on the sidewalk or are around you on the subway or bus are rude (according to western standards), its really easy to make friends with Koreans…usually because they are so enthusiastic about talking to you. I have alway found this to be the complete opposite in Japan. For example, if someone bumps into you in Tokyo…they hurridly appologize, sometimes bowing a little in the process. Despite how nice people seem to be, in the 5 times I’ve been to Japan, I have not managed to make a single friend. After my last trip, my view has completely changed.

If you live in Korea and haven’t been to Japan yet, specifically Tokyo, well then you should get to it. Its a nice contrast to Korea life, and not as expensive there as everyone says. Other than paying for my ticket there, I spent very little money…and could have spent less had I made the effort to, I didnt. It did help that I spent 0 yen on accomodation( see: couchsurfing.com) I dont know what changed in Tokyo in the last year, but I met sooooo many people this time, sadly enough it would have been more had I known more than 10 phrases of Japanese. My most usezd this trip being, “wakarimasen”ㅠㅠ (i dont understand) and “ogote” ^^(pay for me…my new japanese friends taught me this one, and as karma would have it, I only used it on these friends). Since, I like to immerse myself into local life no matter where I go, it made me super sad that I couldnt speak to these people in their language and found myself saying “I speak Korean!?^^” (in a guilty tone) alot. I am now currently studying Japanese on my own as a result. No more guilt NO MORE!

Well I might have been in Japan, but Korea was EVERYWHERE. Starting with the fact that there was a girl staying at the same house as me, who was Korean but studied Japanese and therefore was completely fluent (jealous), which was good because I was able to speak korean the whole time I was there. There were also tons of little things around me, like how Uniqlo was doing some Big Bang collaboration and were not being shy about it.

Also the only place I actually bought something during my trip was one of the shops inside of La Foret, the not so department store department store in Harajuku. I was drawn to this store(which I will talk more about in a later post about Tokyo shopping) firstly, after noticing the accessories were not only super cute but also really reasonably priced, and secondly because upon further inspection had JBOOKs lying around the shop. If you are not familiar with JBOOK it is the magazine/print version of the very popular JBros online shop, and has featured MANY of my friends, as well as myself as models.So not only was excited to see a little bit more of Korea in Japan but would soon realize I was also listening to a little bit of Korea. I hadn’t even realized that the song I was subconsciously bopping around to in the store was in fact 2NE1.

This along with several Japanese people gushing to me about how much they love Korea and the music, the dramas, even the food, made me realize how much of an impact Korea is having on the world, and how many people are really obsessed with the pop culture here.

But we all know how awesome Korea is…So I will follow up with a little bit more about my trip to Japan…food, shopping, and CLUBS soon! STAY TUNED!

XXcory

Now I want to preface this by saying that I knooooow that I stand out in Korea but come on people, what’s with the blatant staring?! I realize that looking at people is completely normal (practically) anywhere in the world…but the thing that takes some adjusting to is the absolute lack of discretion in the staring that goes down in Korea. I have to give a special shout out to the 아줌마들 (ajumma- middle-aged Korean lady) for having the level of discretion of say, an ADHD 2 year old with Tourettes. They can hands down win a stare off with anyone/anything that dare challenge them( I’ve tried on many occasions) and couldn’t care less if you notice them giving you the dagger-eyed once over. The thing that gets to me is that you can NEVER seem to be able to tell whether they are looking for so long out of disgust or appreciation. It’s just so …blank. So needless to say I go ahead and assume the worst : something on my face? they think I’m a prostitute? etc. I would also like to add that this “staring problem” is in my top 2 reasons I hate taking the subway in Seoul, with lights so bright and unflattering what choice do subway riders have BUT to stare? This is right up there with an overly excessive amount of staircases/escalators one must tackle in order to FINALLY reach the platform. Anyways, I digress. Now all this being said…one of the few things that can actually make my week is when one of these hardcore staring 아줌마들 actually says something NICE. This happened to me the other week when I was taking the subway against my better judgement in order to avoid bus traffic during rush hour. I was just waiting for the subway, wearing my winter staple disco pant and something else borderline weird, when a couple of 아줌마들 walk by me together, eyes glued to my pants, when out of the blue one looks up, face changes to a big smile and while pointing out my overall look utters the word..”예뻐” (yepo- pretty). Of course I was extremely flattered and giggly like a school girl that she broke through her hard ajumma shell to compliment me, but then I started to create a story about her in my head, something my grandfather is infamous for in my family. ( Upon seeing a man getting out of his truck wearing a camouflage jacket he concluded “ I bet he just went hunting, and he caught 2 rabbits”). I pictured this ajumma being super cool back in the day wearing a beehive and cigarette pants while dancing around to rock n’ roll, even though her parents disapproved. Now the likelihood of this is slim, but a girl can dream. Staring whether good or bad, the old ladies get the free pass, as they so often do in Korea, but if you are about my age and want to challenge me to a glare off …I accept! In fact I might call you out on it as well, but it’s just my version of the Care Bear Stare…it might be awkward but its out of love…right?!

P.S. Check out the definition of “ Care Bear Stare” as found on Urban Dictionary… HILARIOUS and in fact sounds quite similar to the stares that I get from 아저씨들( ajeoshi- middle-aged Korean man)

XXcory