Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things That Annoy Me About Korea

I have been in Korea for a month, long enough to have become adjusted to the fact that I'm in a new country and become annoyed with some things. Maybe this is culture shock settling in. Or maybe this is just Korea being annoying. Here are the things that bug me most.

1. Look where you're going
Koreans do not pay attention to the people around them. They stop in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store, with their cart angled in such a way as to block the entire aisle, and talk on their phone. They park their cars on the sidewalk and block you when you're walking. They'll even throw water into your path from a doorway. It's bad enough out here in the sticks, but in Seoul, which is by some accounts the most densely populated city in the world, there's nowhere to turn. Human gridlock.

2. Korean beer
For a country that loves to drink beer (called "mekju" by the locals) they sure do like it bland. Granted, Korean beer tastes great with Korean food. The distinctly unhoppy flavor of the local brew is a good match for the red peppers Korean use to flavor their food. But sometimes I just want some good, flavorful beer. And apparently Koreans don't because—with a very few and expensive exceptions—you just can't find good beer here. Heineken is as "exotic" as they like it.

3. Sour face
I don't know what the reason is but so many people here seem to wear a sour face all the time. Maybe it's just the look that my presence elicits, but I swear, every shopkeeper, pedestrian and bus driver looks like they've just finished sucking on a bag of lemons.

4. Bus drivers
And speaking of bus drivers, hey Mr. Bus Driver, would it kill you to be nice? Just a little? I understand that you have a schedule to keep, and a confused foreigner on your bus might throw you off 5 seconds, but put yourself in my shoes. Imagine you're in a strange place, in the boonies, where you don’t speak the language. You need to rely on other things to survive, such as timetables and consistent routes. Not always stopping in the same berth at the terminal doesn't help, nor does laughing in the face of the foreigner who is trying to go home after a long day at work. So come on, give me a break. And a smile wouldn't hurt either.

5. Thanks for staring
I realize I really shouldn't complain about being stared at. I mean, I signed up to teach English in the Korean countryside. And I have yet to get a really hard stare out here like I get on the Seoul subway from old men. But here it isn't even just old people. It's everybody. Cab drivers will hang out their windows at the light and stare like I was a soju ad. Middle-aged women will stop chatting and watch me walk by. At least high school students giggle and say hi.

Korea, mildly annoying. Got to love it.

1 comment:

  1. A bus driver here yelled at an ajumma for swiping her T-money card too many times or some stupid shit like that. And another one cussed out a taxi driver who was parked at a roundabout, blocking the bus from making a circle. I hate bus drivers.