Let me share with you the TOP TEN things that really grind my gears about Korea! If you look back through all my posts about te last year you will a whole lot of positivity praising Korean food, events, festivals, sights and of course the people. But every diamond has a flaw, so here is my list of 10 things that REALLY frustrate me about living in the land of “morning calm”.
10.Why can’t I get a decent sandwich?
I mean is it really too much to ask? All I want is to walk into a grocery store like I would back home, walk up to the deli counter and get a freshly made chicken and stuffing baguette. Or a ham and cheese sandwich. On bread that isn’t full of sugar. With cheese that doesn’t taste like plastic and with some chicken that hasn’t been DEEP FRIED!! Come on Korea, is it really THAT hard to produce a half decent sandwich? I’m begging you!
9. Korean Ajosshi’s asking if I’m RUSSIAN!
Now normally I would have nothing against someone calling me Russian. I mean Vodka is part of my staple diet and Russian ladies are known to be very tall, slim a beautiful but when Korean Ajosshis ask if our Russian they are in fact asking if you are a prostitute. This is thanks to many young russian women making their way to South Korea for this specific purpose. Last week I was with Samy in an elevator and this old ajosshis walks in, looks me up and down, then turns to Samy with a dirty grin and says “Ruiske?!” THAT really grinds my gears!!
8. Korean taxi drivers
First off I “thought” this was how the taxi business works. Customer hails taxi, hops in and taxi driver brings them wherever they wish to go. They pay and all is good in the world. Obviously Korean taxi drivers never got the memo! You hail taxi, then tell them where you want to go then they kick you out of their cab cause it’s not convenient for them or they tr and double the price of the normal fair just because you are a foreigner and obviously have the $$$ sign stamped on your forehead. They have ripped me off, over charged me, brought me to the wrong destination and often plain refused to bring me anywhere many times. They also drive like maniacs. As do Korean bus drivers, but thats another story!
7. Shoes shoes shoes
I love shoes. I love shoes with all my heart. So moving to a country for a year that does not stock my shoe size was far from a wise decision! With a population of over 50 million and 100,000’s shoes stores on every corner, every train station, every shopping mall; it is depressing to never be able to buy any shoes. It wouldn’t be SO bad if this were not also the case for clothes. I am both too wide and too tall (my legs too long, my arms too long, my hips too wide) to ever fit into all those cute Korean clothes. What’s even worse is I will never know for sure as Korean shops are too small to have changing rooms so you either chance your luck and buy it or get the hell out.
6. Eating out alone is IMPOSSIBLE
Sometimes after along day working, I really don’t feel like cooking and just feel like going out for dinner. If my friends are feeling the same, we can all go out to galbi and have a nice night out. However, If I wish to do this alone my choices suddenly become very limited! In Korea eating is a social thing. All the food is shared. You don’t get individual plates as most dishes are placed in the centre of the table, and you cook your own meat at the table. It’s like your own little private kitchen. Here lies the problem; restaurant owners don’t like giving away one of their “private kitchens” if only one person is eating so even if there are free tables available they will always turn you away. This can be very disheartening and is something that really frustrates me. If I want to eat alone in Munsan I’m pretty much limited to getting a take-out pizza or eating a mingin seaweed and rice kimbap roll. Korea just isn’t made for loners!
5.My bank is the worst bank in the world
They don’t “deal” with Ireland so when I transfer money home they send it via the USA leaving me to pay all the exorbitant currency exchange and bank charges. They speak crap English, hardly ever understand what I’m looking for AND always seem to “lose” my money! Okay they finD it a week later but SERIOUSLY how can you just lose people’s money. Moving to Korea? Stay away from IBK!
Ajumma is the Korean word for any married woman or woman over the age of 35/4o. These little ladies deserve a post of their own. While I respect that they portray this powerful image of women, I hate their pushiness, disregard for others and the fact that they are downright RUDE. They go out of their way just to push and shove you out of the way when getting on to buses and trains, steal your seat, elbow you, skip the queue in restrooms when your BURSTING to go and constantly stare at you for no apparent reason. I think everyone in Korea has a crazy ajumma story!
3. The Korean Private Education System
I feel silly writing about this considering as a teacher I’m technically part of it, but it really frustrates me how over worked young children are here. Kids here often go to school from 8am until 8pm jumping from Maths school to English school to History school, 5 days a week. They have no time to just “be kids”. Also working in a private school which needs to be looked upon as a business rather than a school can be really frustrating. Kids are moved up levels just to keep parents happy, even if the kids are unable to do the work. students who may be dyslexic or suffer from other learning disabilities are thrown in classes with other students just so the hogwon directors can keep receiving their tuition ee instead of recommending they attend special schools that will be more beneficial to their learning. Treating Kid’s education, and if you want Kid’s lives as a business opportunity is really awful.
2. Cosmetic Surgery
I recently wrote a whole post on this topic which you can read here. It really upsets me to see children as young as 14 or 15 obsessed with their body image and already planning to get cosmetic surgery. Korean women are already SO beautiful I really don’t understand why they feel the need to keep changing their image.
1. Dirty, rotten toilets
I wrote a post about this when I first got to Korea, mainly comparing western toilets to the squat toilets which the mainly us here. Now after living here for a year squat toilets are n longer an issue. The issue is with how dirty toilets here are. In Korea, you are not allowed put your used toilet paper in the toilet, so you must instead place in the usually over flowing trash can next to the toilet. If public toilets have not been cleaned that day this “dirty, used paper” can be found all over the ground and often trailing out of the toilet. As it is uncommon to see women smoking in public, they all sneak off to the restroom where their trail of cigarette butts can be found. Also evidence of Koreans love of SPITTING can also seen here, with spit dripping down the walls or on the floor. I will not not be sad to ay goodbye to Korean Toilets!
So that is what GRINDS MY GEARS about Korea, wha about you readers, anything to add?