Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top 10 Things I love About Korea Redux

It looks like Top Ten Lists are back in... so I thought I'd throw in my bit.

What A Waygook has "Ten Things I Can't Live Without in Korea"

and ESL Chronicle has "10+ Things I Love About Korea"

Back in the middle of the Jon Huer... thing..., I polled hub of sparkle readers and compiled this list of ten things we like about Korea for the Korea Herald. I think it's a pretty good list.

Well, here's the top ten list I put into What A Waygook's comments: (totally off the top of my head -- favorite thing about Korea is like favorite Beatles songs -- every time you ask me I'll rattle off a different list...but a few mainstays will keep coming back)

Things I… I won’t say CAN’T live without… but things that make me love love love living here:

1. soup dishes in the winter — seolleongtang, galbitang, samgyetang, kalguksu, sundubu jigae, kimchi jigae, dwenjang jigae, budae jigae… warm the soul.

2. covered markets – those semi-outdoor, traditional bazaar-style markets you find in the older parts of the city or town, where old folks give you great prices or freshy freshness, or just a taste of how things used to be.

3. restaurants with one thing on the menu… and old people lined up out the door to eat there. Lots of restaurants get lines out the door, but if OLD people willing to wait, you can be sure it’s not because the place is trendy, or was featured on a power-blogger’s food porn blog… but because the food is soul-food, cheap, delicious, and generously portioned. Best of all is Gwangjang Market by Jongno 5-ga station on the dark blue line.

4. the public transportation – especially in the city, but even if you’re traveling around the country, if you’re handy with a transit card, good at reading bus schedules, and not above hailing a cab from time to time, there’s no need to own a car here.

5. the tourist help lines here’s the place to find all the local numbers: – Korea’s really made an effort to become more accommodating to tourists who don’t speak the language, and this is one of the absolute best initiatives they’ve come up with so far.

6. Broadband speed.. EVERYWHERE. Every time I’m streaming Youtube videos on Subway line 5 deep under the Han River, downloading bus arrival times out in the countryside, or making a video skype call from a motel out in the boonies, I should blow a kiss at the nearest visible Korean flag.

7. Chats with taxi drivers and friendly old people – the better your Korean is, the more fun these are, and the more varied the conversation becomes.

8. The everything festival of everywhere always: there are a whole buttload of fantastic festivals celebrating everything from seasonal phenomena (flowers blossoming etc.) to traditional arts (masks and dances and foods), to the newest of the new developments in Korean culture… and if it’s not a festival yet, it’s probably a street party (world cup soccer games, flash mobs, flea markets, random live shows)

9. Jongno/Gwanghwamun/Bukcheon/Myeongdong – I’ve lived in this area for about 2/3 of my time here, and it’s absolutely inexhaustible… partly because there’s so much to see and do, and partly because it changes so quickly that even if you’ve tried everything in the area, two weeks later there’ll be something new to try again.

10. People-watching (and eye candy) everywhere – old people playing baduk in parks, little kids splashing in public water fountains, couples speaking in goopy voices in coffee shops… or breaking up loudly on the steps to a subway station…, little kids wearing hanbok on festival days… and at every crosswalk, whether you dig XX or XY chromosome sets, there’ll be at least one person coming the other way who’s an eyeful of style, beauty, handsomeness, high fashion or immaculate grooming, to give your eyes a treat as you pass.

better leave it there, not that I couldn’t go on…
So, readers: lists in the comments: what are YOUR top ten? Or put a link to your own blog.


Roboseyo said...

1.  Food (quality and cheapness)
2.  Public transportation (the hardest thing about moving back to America will be having to deal with car culture again)
3.  And this sounds like damning with faint praise, but being a few hours from so many other interesting countries.  SK is a nice "port" from which to explore the rest of Asia.

Honorable mentions: broadband, decent amount of public parks/green space, universal health care, and (ahem) the casinos

Roboseyo said...

1. rest areas on the expressway (large, clean, varied foods)
Compared with rest areas in California, Oregon, Washington, Korean rest areas are in the first world, those in the 3 states belong to the third world (dirty, small, just vending machines).
2.hiking-ready mountains and trails (well-maintained and safe)
In the U.S. and Canada, most likely you are the only  hiker in the big mountains and you should be careful of bears or other wild animals and even other humans you would meet in the mountains. There are trails around town, but so quiet and not many people. It makes me scared of other humans on the trails.

Roboseyo said...

I just like the food, transportation and the fact that its home haha But, I'm not sure if I like Chinese food more than Korean food. 

Roboseyo said...

Family mart/GS25/7-Eleven (and most importantly, the ability to hang out and get drunk outside at all hours of the day)

Roboseyo said...

Thank you for sharing this.  Aside from the food and places that me and my husband visited while in Korea, I am also a fan of their  Online shopping website. I've tried Fatbag when I was there. The prices are affordable and I found everything I needed. Looking forward to visit Korea again!