South Korea is a small country in East Asia. It shares the border with North Korea.
South Korea- the Korea we can actually visit. Not long ago, South Korea was a small, developing nation closed off to much of the world. However, these days that is rapidly changing and has become a very popular tourist destination due to its rich history and amazing food scene. Let’s know a little more about the land of Kimchi and K-Pop.
Interesting facts about South Korea
1. When a baby is born here, he/she is already considered a year old.
2. Forget about sun signs, South Koreans judge you on the basis of your blood type. It is believed that each blood type is associated with few personality traits. And instead of matching their horoscopes, people match their blood types to determine whom to marry.
3. South Korea has one of the least obese populations in the world. Only 4% of South Koreans are overweight. Their healthy diet is the secret!
4. We all have heard about Korean beauty and skincare regimes. Looks matter a lot in South Korea and everyone is obsessed with makeup here. Even the men love makeup and almost a quarter of men use makeup as part of their daily routine. In fact, approximately 20% of the worldwide male cosmetic industry is generated by South Koreans.
South Korea is definitely the makeup capital of the world. There are entire districts of Seoul dedicated to cosmetic shops, so it’s truly a makeup lover’s paradise.
5. Since appearance and looking good are an important part of South Korean culture, it will come as no surprise that South Korean women undergo the highest per capita cosmetic procedures globally. It is estimated that a fifth of South Korean women have undertaken at least one cosmetic procedure. Unlike many other countries in the world, plastic surgery is widely accepted here and even encouraged in some cases. Eyelid surgery is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed in South Korea. Many wealthy young South Koreans receive double-eyelid surgery for their 16th birthday as a gift to make their eyes appear more Western.
6. There are lots of superstitions in South Korean culture.
The number 4 is considered unlucky as it is written the same way as the Chinese character for death. The number is often replaced with the letter “F,” such as when using an elevator. Apartments that have numbers with 4s are often avoided, and the property values are lower.
Red ink is also considered bad luck and writing a person’s name in the color signifies the person is dead, or will die soon.
There is a weird belief that leaving an electric fan on overnight in a closed room will kill the person sleeping directly below it. Due to this belief, shutoff timers on fans in South Korea are seen as a life-saving feature.
7. The South Korean police have a strange process to publically humiliate a criminal known as crime re-enactment. Citizens suspected of crimes are led by the police in handcuffs to the scene of the crime and ordered to publically reenact the crime. The media is also invited to take pictures and publish details about the crime.
8. K-Pop has become a global sensation. There are many popular bands and the members are idolized in South Korea. It started with Gangnam Style, a song that broke many records and was the first song to gain 1 billion views on YouTube.
9. Seoul, the capital city is one of the most sleep deprived cities in the world. The people get a sleep of just fewer than 6 hours a night.
10. Do you get irritated with slow internet and are tired with continuous buffering while watching a movie online? That’s one less concern for the people in South Korea as the country has the fastest internet connection speed on the planet.
11. Kimchi is not only the national dish, it is the soul of the country. It is a combination of vegetables and spices that have been fermented underground for months. There are 250 different types of kimchi and a side of kimchi is standard no matter where or when you’re eating a meal. They love it so much that when taking a photo, South Koreans say “kimchi” instead of “cheese.”
12. Winter is the time to bundle up in warm blankets and drink hot beverages. But in South Korea, you’ll find people hanging out on the floor during the cooler months of the year. This is because instead of air heaters, Koreans have heated floors. Pipes are immediately under the floor in South Korean homes, and heat passes through these pipes to send warmth up through the floor. Warm feet all the time. That’s brilliant!
13. South Korea is home to Cheomseongdae Observatory, the world’s first astronomical laboratory, built during the mid-600s at Gyeongju.
14. Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea. It’s believed to have been invented approximately 2,000 years ago when a Korean warrior developed a style of fighting that used bare hands and feet instead of weapons. It is also the only Olympic sport that has originated in South Korea.
15. To all the boys who complain that Valentine’s Day is mostly about them buying expensive gifts for their girlfriends, South Korea has an interesting answer. On February 14th, women in the country go all out to buy their partner luxurious boxes of chocolates and other indulgent gifts and Valentine ’s Day is about pampering your boyfriend/husband.
Wait, don’t get too excited and dream about a South Korean girlfriend. They also have created White Day which is held a month later on March 14th. This is where men buy gifts for their ladies.
16. You might already know about the tension that brews between North and South Korea. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was built during the Korean War. It divides North and South Korea and is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world. Former President Bill Clinton once called the Demilitarized Zone the “scariest place on Earth.”
17. South Korea has a strong drinking culture and the people are the largest drinkers in Asia. Their favourite drink is Soju. Soju is usually around 20-24% alcohol content and is commonly drunk with main meals.
The country is also a firm believer in the freedom to drink wherever you want. People can carry open containers of their favorite alcoholic beverage and even take a drink or two. However, you should not disturb/harm anyone otherwise it will be considered illegal. So be sober even when you are drunk!
18. It is one of the biggest economies in the world. This relatively small country has seen its economy grow steadily since 2009 and currently has the 12th largest GDP in the world.
19. In today’s world, all of us are used to getting everything delivered to our doorstep. But South Korea has taken ordering food to a next level. Once you’ve finished enjoying your meal, you can put the dishes outside of your front door and the person who delivered your food will swing back later to pick them up. A restaurant like service without actually visiting one.
20. There is a ‘Penis Park’ in South Korea. As the name suggests, Haesingdang Park is home to a wide range of sculptured penises which is, apparently, the largest collection of animated giant penises globally!
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting South Korea:
Spring in South Korea is the best time to visit the country. Even though everyone knows Japan for the Sakura season, not many know about the pink perfection the cherry blossoms bring to South Korea. Also, it’s a lot less expensive than Japan so if you wish to see the pink blossoms then head to South Korea.
Jeju Island: Known as ‘Korea’s Hawaii’, the volcanic island is undoubtedly one of the country’s most popular locations. The highlights of the island are its surreal white sand beaches surrounded by pine forests, volcanic craters and lava caves, beautiful botanical gardens and a rich culture. You can also see the haenyeo (“sea women”) of the island. These women can free dive hundreds of feet to catch different types of seafood continuing a tradition that goes back 1,500 years and is passed down from mother to daughter.
DMZ: DMZ stands for demilitarized zone, and it’s the no-man’s land border between North and South Korea. Only a small portion of the DMZ, known as the JSA or Joint Security Area, is open to the public and can be accessed only through an official, guided tour. You can step over the border into North Korea, while inside the cross-border room.
Jeonju: It was once the spiritual capital of the Joseon Dynasty. You will many ancient temples and shrines here which have been preserved for centuries. Head to Hanok Village to step back in time and enjoy the traditional Korean architecture. Don’t forget to try Bibimbap (a kind of mixed rice), which originally comes from this region.
Changdeokgung Palace: A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace is one of the five grand palaces built by the Joseon Dyantasy in the 15th century. This palace has always been the preferred royal residence. Be sure to visit Biwon or Secret Garden which boasts 56,000 specimens of trees. This 78-acre garden is filled with pathways, green spaces, pagodas, streams, and lakes.