All in KOREA

S. Korea & I – happily ever now

S. Korea and I have an all-or-nothing kind of relationship. But thankfully, we’re experiencing a happy, fight-free period. In the fourth installment of the ‘Love/Hate Series,’ I rave about S. Korea’s skincare craze, jimjilbangs (bathhouses/spas), convenience store culture and the superb delivery system. Bae can be pretty damn charming when she wants to. 

South Korea’s Suicide Epidemic

For almost a decade, South Korea has had the highest suicide rate among industrialized countries. From teenagers to senior citizens, around 40 people commit suicide every day. The alarming statistics are merely symptoms of deep-rooted social issues. South Korea finds itself trapped between a past of Confucianism ideals and a reality where capitalism and competition reign supreme. Suicide is a grim side effect of living in a stressful & hypercompetitive society. 

S. Korea… I love you. I love you NOT.

Picking up where I left off on my Korean love/hate drama, I voice some annoyances once again. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made great progress in our somewhat tumultuous relationship, but she still continues to irritate me here and there. I understand that my deep-rooted Western outlook is partly responsible for the frustration I sometimes feel. And I’m truly committed to Bae but for now I blow off some steam… 

7 major differences between S. Korean & American schools

It’s been about 7 months of my teaching adventure in Korea and to celebrate, I am sharing some interesting facts I’ve discovered about Korean schools. The stuff noted here isn’t absolute whatsoever but rather what I have taken away while teaching in a public elementary school. These observations are based on my personal experience. Here are 7 differences between schools in Korea and the U.S.

Age is just a number...or is it?

You’ve heard the old adage: Age is just a number. Whether you agree or disagree with the statement, in Korea, that number is of significant importance. Based on Confucianism ideology, age matters. And it matters a lot in most facets of life, including among a group of friends. Unless two people are the same age, they can’t really be friends. Today, we look at the effects of Korea’s hierarchical culture on friendships.

S. Korea & I – a LOVE & hate kind of relationship

I like to pretend that Korea & I are dating seriously. A few weeks ago, I vented and aired her dirty laundry, or what I think are some of her flaws. But being in a healthy relationship entails accepting a person (or a country in my case) for who they are, fully. And sometimes it’s good to focus on their positive qualities rather than dwell on the negative. Although, I haven’t experienced a honeymoon stage with the ROK, there are plenty of aspects that I do enjoy. In the follow up to the love & hate series, I share some of what I deem to be Korea’s virtues…

Korean-isms 2.0: More Cultural Observations of South Korea

Welcome to part deux of my observations and interpretations of Korean culture. Hierarchy, collectivism and the hurry, hurry syndrome were explored in the first installment. Those were my initial impressions of Korea, the ones that were hard not to notice. In the months after that post, I have discovered and gained an interest in idiosyncrasies that are a bit more subtle. In this follow up, I talk about Korea’s academic rigor, its drinking culture and obsession with physical appearance. 

It’s Complicated… between S. Korea & I

I knew that living and working in Korea would be a challenge in many ways. When I told people about my plan to live in 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 Korea or miss from the US.