It blows my mind that more people don’t travel in South Korea. So I’m going to tell you why I love South Korea. Specifically, I am going to give you 8 reasons, only because I didn’t come up with 7 or 9.
I seriously LOVE Seoul. Seoul is an amazing mixture of old historical city mixed with new and very modern city – technologically advanced, incredibly stylish, chic, modern and so much fun – Seoul is a great contrast! Seoul is the reason I wanted to explore Korea more, and I’m happy I did (well happy my work sent me to do a tour of South Korea). Almost everyone in Seoul has a fantastic sense of style, which I love! Although I feel a little lame and mundane in my neutral button up work shirts. Seoul also has a great array of different restaurants, cool neighbourhoods, and music venues. And baseball games in Seoul are a highlight – a combination of hilarity, fun and camaraderie – with K-Pop-esque cheerleaders and ‘hype’ men in bell-bottoms. Do you need more reasons to come to Seoul? It’s awesome.
2. IT’S BEAUTIFUL, DUH!
It really is a beautiful country. Rolling hills and mountains – amazing for hiking. And I swear it’s sunny 90% of the time in Korea. Korea’s nature has a lovely hue of muted tones and pastels. And the country is doted with old Confucius palaces and Buddhist temples.
3. NO ONE CAN TALK TO YOU
Hardly anyone speaks English once you are out of Seoul. Or if they do, they often won’t use it, for fear of their English being imperfect. If you are like me and appreciate to feel as though you really are far away from home, then you will love this aspect. I always wish I had been a traveler in the 60’s or 70’s when it was so much easier to travel to unexplored places, and to feel like you really were the only tourist in town. On that note, I found myself the only non-asian person in most towns I visited. Instant fame! *All this being said, tourism Korea has a direct dial number for English help – you can call them for anything when in Korea. Korea is very easy to get around, and people are incredibly friendly and helpful.
4. KOREAN MAFIA
Which I refer to the old Korean ladies you will run into if you do any hiking. Short, working in packs, armed with perms, dyed black hair and visors (and sometimes dishwashing gloves that they use for hiking?) – these ladies are not to be messed with. They are adorable and make me laugh so much. If you are hiking and you are in their way they will blow by you like you aren’t even there. I watched a sea of Korean Mafia literally crawl up stairs (using hands and feet) to reach the highest point of a lookout. When there were other people in the way they scaled the side to rocks to get past them. I believe if there had not been another way around, they would have simply pushed the others (my clients) over the edge. Which would have been senior citizen murder!
It’s delicious. My favourite is Korean BBQ (called Galbi) where they cook your meet on a BBQ in the middle of the table. Have it with a Cass Beer and call it a day.
6. COFFEE SHOPS
Korean coffee shops are adorable and I seem to have a slight obsession with them. They are cozy and stylish. I could coffee shop hop all day in Korea.
I find Korean history quite interesting. Particularly the Korean War, as well as the subsequent radical separation between North and South – where South has experienced a miraculous economic recovery and flourished in capitalism, the North’s people have been suppressed, starved, and educated with propaganda ever since the war ended. Korea was also home to one of the world’s longest running dynasties.
8. KIM JONG-UN ISN’T HERE
The mad dictator from North Korea, is not here. I am by no means claiming that I am an expert on the art of war, or have an inside scoop of as to what is really going on. But I think it’s important for people to know, that despite all the recent press regarding North Korea, the North Korean government is notorious for its aggressive rhetoric towards the South and the United States. It has been going on since the Korean War. It doesn’t even seem to phase most South Koreans anymore. My favourite threat I heard recently, was when Kim Jong-Un told press that the newly appointed President Park Geun-Hye (and also the first female President of South Korea! Very cool!) would “meet her miserable doom” – wow. This is something you would expect to come out of a villain’s mouth in an old black and white film. But South Koreans are used to this sort of rhetoric, which comes out of North Korea on a regular basis. And actually, I hear that Kim Jong-Un and Dennis Rodman are now buddies. Perhaps Denis can finally ease the tension between the US and North Korea.
I hope after reading this you give a little more thought to expanding your travels to South Korea. If not, I will continue to reap the benefits of sometimes being the only tourist in a town. An awesome and fun experience!