They say that sharing a house or an apartment with someone is like dating or marrying them. And it’s true. I should know as I’ve had about 15 roommates during my life! Some I’ve loved. Others, I’ve despised. But what about when you move to a new city or country? Isn’t this akin to a relationship going serious? I feel that I’ve done just that since I moved to South Korea. We’re going steady… These days I feel less dazed and confused in the ROK but that doesn’t mean I love everything about it. Today, I share some of what I deem to be S. Korea’s flaws...
I knew that living and working in South Korea would be a challenge in many ways. When I told people about my plan to live in S. Korea for a year, I got a lot of puzzled looks. The common response was something like ‘but you’d fit in so much better in Vietnam, Thailand, anywhere in South East Asia.’ And they had a point. My personality would mesh a lot better in a country whose culture is less rigid. But my goals were clear. I wanted to focus on my writing and traveling while earning a decent income that would allow me to do the latter. I’m doing exactly that and it’s totally worth it. Nonetheless, I’ve felt homesick plenty of times. Here are some things that I either dislike about South Korea or miss from the US.
House. Blues. Jazz. World. Indie Rock. I could go on and on. I miss Chi-town! S. Korea gets a major booing in the live music department. I die a little bit inside each time I get an email about some awesome band or festival happening in Chicago this summer. Lollapalooza has been shit for the past few years but the lineup is incredible this time around. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, M83, Flume, and so many more. RiotFest is going to be legendary with the Misfits and Morrissey. Ugh, seriously people, enjoy the diversity of live music wherever you are and soak it all up for me.
Wheat beers, saisons, stouts, mixed drinks with clever names and ingredients I can’t pronounce… Not so much in Korea. They haven’t gotten the craft beer and cocktails memo yet. I’m sure Seoul has but not Daegu (where I live). Anyone that knows me well knows I am a food and drink snob so this makes so very sad. Instead, S. Korea has Cass and Hite, beer that reminds me of my silly college days when I drank the cheapest of beers simply to get drunk. I’ve almost forgotten what beer with flavor and depth is like. Or the taste of a refreshing and overpriced cocktail made by an attractive ‘mixologist’…
Daegu does not have a vibrant and happening night scene like Chicago, Barcelona, Mexico City or another cosmo city. There are clubs and sports bar type of places with bro-ey vibes that remind me of the slopfest and shitshow that is Wrigleyville. There are a few other places but they are so unimpressionable that they don’t warrant a mention. Again, I am reminded of when I was 18 and didn’t know any better. With my snobby ways, I like a place that has a certain kind of atmosphere and feng shui. With seasonal drink menus. The kind of place that makes me feel young, hip and relevant. I know they exist in Seoul, which makes me wonder if I should have lived there every time I visit the bustling city… But I am always happy to return to quaint Daegu even if its nightlife is a bit unsophisticated and borderline dull.
I’ll admit it, this is definitely a first world complaint... But for my city people, can any of you remember what life was like before uber or lyft?! Not only does S. Korea lack these super convenient services but cab drivers have zero regard for addresses. That’s right, telling them your home address is useless as they navigate according to landmarks. School names, subway stops, etc. I usually tell them that name of my school since I live across it but this has proved useless because my school is young-ish at 8 years of existence and cabbies tend to be old. So a structure that’s been around for less than 10 or 15 years might as well not exist to them. Drunkenly trying to direct a taxi driver to your house in terrible Korean makes me miss the States. I think back to the days when I simply clicked on the lyft or uber app and 4 minutes later, voila! A warm & friendly person drove me to my destination. Oh, the luxury!
One day I hate S. Korea… Another day I love it. In a few weeks’ time I will share what I like about this this country.