Since I’ve been in Korea for 6 months now, I wrote a post on 6 things I like about Korea. Now it’s time to share 6 things I dislike about Korea.
- Anything to do with driving, parking or being a pedestrian. With the lack of police enforcement, the drivers here are – how to put it lightly? – crazy. You can Google videos of driving in Korea. Speed limit – shpeed limit. There is no such thing as a red light here; it seems to mean yield. That being said, even if you are a pedestrian with the walk, you really need to be careful when crossing the street. It’s not just the cars you need to look out for. A lot of the time it is the delivery drivers. One thing Korea is awesome at is food delivery (fast food at that!). The delivery guys drive these mopeds all over the street and sidewalk with no regard for right of way. To say I’ve never been almost hit by one would be a lie. Finally, parking is an issue. People park wherever it is convenient for them, even if it’s the middle of the crosswalk. They don’t get ticketed so why not? I’ve never seen anything like it.
- Too much trash on the street. This is surprising to me. Korea has strict personal waste regulations. For example, all food waste must be disposed of in a special food waste container for composting. Recyclables must be in their particular bag, and regular waste goes in its specific bag. At many apartment communities, there is CCTV monitoring your disposal, and if you break one of the rules, you’ll get a talking to by the landlord. With these strict rules, how in the world are the streets constantly being used as trash cans for everything? I’ve seen plates of food just sitting there for days, on top of old shoes, on top of beaten up Mickey Mouse’s, on top of you-name-it.
- Plumbing and bathroom hygiene. Showering in shower shoes (college dorm: been there, done that); showering in the middle of the bathroom/wet room because there is no actual shower, just a hose that extends from the sink; having to brush my teeth in the kitchen sink because in the bathroom, water comes out of the showerhead even if it’s turned to the sink setting; toilets not being able to handle toilet paper and having bins of used TP next to you while you do your business in public places; manually turning on hot water every time we need to use it (yes, at least we have hot water – I am grateful for that); using communal bar soap in public restrooms; etc. These are not a few of my favorite things.
- Cost of produce. Everything here is imported and costs a small fortune. I guess the Philippines isn’t close enough to warrant lower produce prices. Mangos and watermelon can cost the equivalent of about $20 for ONE! One banana will cost you about $1.50 at Starbucks, which is the only place I’ve seen that sells just 1 banana. If you go to the grocery store they are sold in bunches of at least 9, and are all shrink wrapped. They are already ripe and cost around $4. Not a terrible price, but there’s no way you can actually eat all the bananas before they go bad. Even a bag of a few apples costs between $6 and $9, on a good day. Avocados will cost about 2.5-3x more than they do in America. It’s harder to eat healthy when healthy food is so expensive. Also, not to do with price (though they are expensive as well), but important to note, all the grapes seem to taste like Concords, and unless you’re into that – stay away!
- Napkins. I never thought I could go to a country and dislike napkins, but I very much dislike them here. Restaurants only seem to provide napkins in the form of beverage naps or toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper. I end up using way more napkins than I would have if they just provided normal dinner napkins or washable ones. They also don’t protect your clothing from food spills!
- It’s a homogeneous society. I’m not even talking about the fact that about 96% of the population in Korea is of Korean ethnicity. I’m talking about everything else. Different cities in the country have all the same stores, restaurants, cafes, norebangs, cars, clothes, hairstyles, etc. There is distinct charm in certain places, of course, but also a lot of just the same everywhere you go.
There are pros and cons to every country. One thing that living abroad will always offer you is perspective, and I’m grateful for that!
Are you living in Korea or have you lived here? What are some things you dislike?