The Koreal World

Just another day in the ‘ju. I thought I’d give some random factoids about Korea that I’ve acquired thus far…

1. If you have a smaller car in Korea that uses less gas, you pay less money for highway tolls. How green and sweet is that? My co-teacher told me on our ride to Suwon, she drives an adorable little Kia.

2. There are 2 different types of garbage bags, one that is solely for bio-degradable things — food. Although it makes the streets smell worse than New York City on a hot summer’s day, it’s a very sustainable concept.

3. Hangul (Korean language) is the only language to have been explicitly created. Unlike Germanic or Romance languages, or even other Asian languages, it is the only language that was planned and then implemented — it did not become what it is today through cycles of evolution. (PS: I TOOK MY FIRST KOREAN CLASS ON MONDAY!)

4. 60% of Korean women get plastic surgery. An insane number, right? There are advertisements all over the subways and buses in Seoul promoting eye-lid creases, nose jobs, chin jobs, boob jobs, or calf reductions. Yes, calf jobs — the calf muscles are removed and the leg is sewn up for a slimmer look. I’ve also heard of women getting leg-extensions, having the joints of their knees seperated or something, to make their legs longer. YIKES! Oh and it’s not just the ladies – PLENTY of men get plastic surgery, I think nose jobs are most common. They want more of a “western” look, so they have an arch put into the top of their nose. I’ve heard pretty much every K-Pop (Korean pop) artist has had plastic surgery.

Ad on the side of a bus for surgery.

5. Everything about the DMZ – the De-Militarized Zone. It is the 4km (2.5mi) buffer zone between North and South Korea, and stretches across the entire peninsula. The Korean War still has not officially ended: no peace treaty has been signed, just a cease-fire. The area is highly protected on either side and its name is quite ironic since it is actually the most militarized border in the world. Because the DMZ is completely untouched, it is an ecological safe-haven, now recognised as one of the most well-preserved areas of temperate habitat in the world. Endangered animal and plant species exist in this “involuntary park,” such as the Red-crowned Crane and the White=naped Crane, the Korean tiger. Check out this bottle of water – the brand is DMZ since the water is so pure from that area!

DMZ H2O.

6. Boys and men love to touch each other in completely heterosexual, friendly ways here. It’s true. They hold hands while walking down the street, sit on each others laps. Being touchy-feely just doesn’t have the same stigma for guys as it does in western culture. In general, homosexuality is not widely accepted by Korean culture. I have heard there are a few gay bars in Seoul, and that many of the male K-Pop stars are actually gay. My co-teacher also informed me that a huge problem in the military is sexual harassment by higher-ranking officers on the younger soldiers.

7. Shrimp-flavored chips. Enough said.

Love at first bite.

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