Korea map carrot dangle

Some non-Koreans actually love Korea (see EatYourKimchi). I can't say that I hate it although some do. I lived in Korea for 3.5 years and I have also lived in Taiwan, China and have done a good deal of traveling. So I wouldn't say this is the rant of a maladjusted ethnocentric American.

However, it is a little on the negative side as I didn't develop an aversion to any of those places like I did somewhat to Korea.

So why do most foreigners like Korea? Is it the culture? I don't think so, most people teach in Korea for the salary ,for the free air ticket, the free housing, the severance pay, the pension and the relatively low cost of living. Hey that's what I did and that's why I am writing this article now.

If all those benefits were in another country English teachers would go there. I think relatively few foreigners go to Korea for any other reason.

Ask a foreigner if they like living in Korea and what will they say? They may have their reasons, but I think the majority of them who say they like it actually like non-specific things about it. They like the situation. They like all the monetary benefits. They like the lifestyle and new found freedom. They like their friends that they have made (mostly other foreigners). These are all things that are not specific to Korea.

So then what sucks about Korea?

Don't be weird

Korean culture is conservative and some say it's traditions share some resemblance to Christianity. Being conservative is not uncommon in eastern Asia. China, Taiwan and Japan could also be considered conservative by some. And there is another reason why...

The city skyline is littered with crosses

Are you expecting a mystical or spiritual experience in Korea? Imagining a land full of temples and... Think again. Korea is a country that's packed with millions of parroting, brainwashed, idiotic, groupie Christians. Korea is at least 30% Christian and growing. Take a look at the city skyline and what will you see? Churches and hundreds of crosses on top of buildings. Temples are fewer by far. And this is really ironic considering Korea's pride.

Pride. I am KOREAN!

Here's a pretty funny joke by Dave Chappelle about Koreans that pretty much sums this up. Compared to China and Japan, Korea is the unique one. Well, at least in the culture's eyes. It is unlike China and especially unlike its much maligned neighbor Japan. Korea suffered from the Japanese occupation and an air of resentment is still present to this day. Koreans are really proud to be Korean. Which I think is pretty funny considering the fact that the most widespread religion in Korea is Christianity which is a foreign religion. It's not its own indigenous religious belief and at the same time Koreans are so proud to be Korean and unique.

Stop being weird and FIT IN

But while they are claiming uniqueness I find it to be very conformist. This may be part of the culture in eastern Asia. Here the group takes precedence over the individual. In other words what the group wants is more important than what the individual wants.

However, in Korea people generally dress in a similar fashion and follow the same trends and pop stars. There is little individual expression. Take a day trip to Japan and you will notice something quite different. People dress differently. There is more individual expression there.

Another example of this conformity can be seen in the high rise apartment blocks. Hike up into the mountains and look down on the city and you will see that so many of them look the same. They have the same drab appearance devoid of any attractive styling or features.

Need a nose job? How about a chin job?

Korea is SUPER... ficial. It's one of the most superficial countries in the world. Plastic surgery in Korea is endemic. You'll find clinics on the corner and advertisements in the subways. You can tell when a girl has just had some surgery as you can see her walking through the subway station with her baseball hat pulled down, and a mask covering her face. Many young girls in their very early teens will get it too. The most common one is the double eyelid surgery. My ex-girlfriend who was Korean estimated that around 60% of girls aged 18-35 have had at least one surgery. It's quite common and rather sad I'd say why Koreans are so into their looks.

And it's not only the girls, it's some of the guys and some of the young boys too. Check this video out and see the young boy wearing eye liner.


African American man faces discrimination in Korea

Racism in Eastern Asia exists although if you're Caucasian then you may never notice the racism as you're likely to get away with some things that you never would in your home country. Although you may at least notice the "No Foreigners Allowed" sign on some bar doors. If you're not white then you're likely to have a different experience.

And whether you are white, brown or any other race you're still not Korean and your blood is different. Many Koreans have a concept that their blood and race is superior to others. Here is another reference to being of mixed race in Korea.

In my experience I was once asked what the color of my skin was in a phone interview for a job. And according to my Korean friend Min, "Korea is a racist country".

Instances of discrimination in Korea

Basically if you're a minority or gay even you're going to face some discrimination in Korea. Korea is generally not very tolerant of differences. Here is someone's experience with discrimination before they even got to Korea.

I am older so you do what I say

People with a higher status than you make the decisions. Whatever the boss says you are expected to do. Your opinion or take is often not highly valued - the boss or your superior decides. 

Age is another factor in this hierarchy. People older than you are considered superior. In a public school in Korea you typically work under a co-teacher. That co-teacher has the authority over you. Foreign teachers are typically considered assistants. You're generally expected to say yes and do as your told. If your principal walks into the room you are expected to stand.

This hierarchy in Korea has caused problems with it's airlines. Korean Air had more accidents than most other airlines during the 1990's. These accidents weren't caused from faulty planes, but from cultural attitudes relating to this inability to question your superiors.

Stressed and not-so happy children

A study by KIHASA (Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs) showed that Korean children were the least happy and most stressed out children in developed countries. You can read more about it here.

I wasn't surprised to learn that as children there get way too much pressure to succeed in school. Some of this unhappiness leads to...

Suicide cliffs

I'm not sure if any of the previous topics mattered, but apparently it's not only non-Koreans who think Korea has some problems. Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It's second only to Greenland.

There was a pretty nice park in Busan called Taejongdae island. It has a famous cliff there called "Suicide cliff".


You might not think Korea sucks, but consider why most people go to Korea. Here's a quote I found on Reddit that basically sums this up:

"I would choose somewhere because you actually want to be there - you want to experience the culture, learn the language etc etc. I taught in S.Korea and it's a very easy enjoyable life but the teachers there mostly don't go for the culture but for the money. So interaction with the locals is less than with the ex-pat community. It's not an ideal situation if you want to travel to actually 'experience' somewhere." - Readswere on Reddit


#15 Yoyo 2016-12-12 14:03
Like your posting. I'm a korean currently based in another Asian country; pretty westernized, English speaking. My colleagues always like to ask me about korea and try to generalize korean, maybe cuz hallyu. I didn't study oversea but somehow a little bit Americanized I guess.
sometimes they get shocked when they find i'm not those typical korean. I try to explain about the culture but don't know how to and why we are. Those foreigners will never know about korea.. the society is extremely complex that other society will never get it without experiencing.
I have thought and thought about myself and my country almost a decade. I became to see my country more objectively now. so glad to find your posting and you seems to experience true korea. Your posting is describing exactly what I wanna say about korea.
I will slowly continue to explore your blog. Thank you for sharing your rich experiences. Cheers
#14 Ian 2016-09-13 17:19
Quoting Winston:
Wow!!! Though I do agree with few things...
What's uninformed about it?
#13 Winston 2016-09-13 06:23
Wow!!! Though I do agree with few things you have OBSERVED, I must say, this is a very subjective opinion. And an uninformed one at that. It is pretty bold of you to jot down your opinion and make it look like fact. Your lack of knowledge reagrding their culture has put the blinders on your opinions. That's too bad...
#12 .Sara 2016-06-23 22:21
I am Korean Canadian and I should say I cannot get along with Koreans just from Korea due to their jealousy of me who are Canadian..... As soon as I told them I am Canadian and been in Canada for years, they showed ignorance and jealousy and I cannot communicate with them anymore.
I found that most adult Koreans who have been only in Korea showed unexceptional jealousy towards others and was very superficial. They do plastic surgery a lot and even do heavy make-up. They always make sure their looks are good before they go out.

Most foreigners especially white males will feel like a king in Korea because most Korean girls show fake personality in front of guys they are into. They make a cute sound and acting cute but you don't see that if you are Korean girl !!! lol Most Korean girls are crazy for white men. Seriously. They want a white baby.
Most Korean girls acted like a bitch in front of me who are Korean Canadian....
#11 kim 2016-04-24 05:12
yes you right you exactly see what this country is
the most sucks are hierarchy and superficial culture
they always concern about their apperance they all crazy about it
#10 Korean 2016-01-11 06:08
I am a South Korean. I think you saw the core of the Korean culture, tradition and thoughts, I hope to escape from this hell, which is called Hell-Choseon by Korean young generation recently. You are an honest man. I also hope to be like you. Thank and good luck.
#9 chloe 2015-03-06 07:11
Koreans probably like Christianity because it is western . They usually like western things . I was just wondering why there were so many Christians when they don't believe in it then I realised it's because it is a western religion . Yeah , Koreans are very superficial . Sometimes they caring about looks really frustrate me . They don't care about a person's aracter , all they care about is if the person is attractive or bnot . They also have weird standards of beauty . They commented on a show that a man's back head was big and I was like wtf they even care about that now ? Then the . They keep trying to act pretty and they don't like to be filmed on camera . Never seen a nation so insecure before .
#8 Ian 2015-02-14 05:56
[quote name="Ricky Park"]
What makes you think it is way better? Because it's cool? Because it's popular? Actually I don't want to hear it.

Anybody who believes the bible is the truth is pretty dumb. If you believe it's the truth then you have been brainwashed.
#7 Ricky Park 2015-02-13 06:55
I am Korean ha ha ha
Let me tell you the true things
1. IDK
2. You think Christianity sucks? We believe it because It's way more better than alien Taoism or old fashioned Buddhism! We are brain washed? You don't look like a person who doesn't hate Korea! Also, you can see many temples. You are just lacking of information to find it.

90% of Koreans believe in yu geou
peh... I was too raged

3. Yes!!! Korea is proud of Korea! So what! We make world's #1 Phone!!! And Stop that christianity!

4. Nope! we look different. What did you expect?! A alien cloths? I guess you went to some country part.(It's same at every country)

5. I agree it's bad...

7. We are just nervous about foreigners. So don't feel bad.

8. That's called respect!!!

9. haaaaaaa.......
#6 ??? 2014-06-02 14:02
I dont think any of you have the right to speak the minds of others

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