Unique aspects of Korea (?)

Long long ago I was thrilled when I discovered this list of “10 Unique Korean Customs and Practices (1950-2007)” as I thought it was great classroom material. It was good, but what ended up being just as interesting was asking students to predict what might be on the list. This spring I asked a few different groups of Korean students to say what they thought might be unique to Korea or surprising to non-Koreans.

Please note that I am not offering this up as a list of things I think are unique to Korea. I am merely sharing the results of my question. I think these answers are quite interesting and telling regardless of how unique to Korea they may or may not be. I also thought it might be a nice starting point for a lesson.

If you don’t live in Korea and are curious about something here please let me know and perhaps I can get a student to answer your query. If you do live in Korea…ask someone else then. 🙂

Here is the list:

  • The subway system
  • Seats for the elderly on buses and the subway
  • Plastic surgery
  • Neon crosses
  • 24 hour bars/restaurants
  • Filial piety
  • Showing respect for elders
  • Photos on job applications
  • Friends holding hands
  • Spicy food
  • Shoe/bag washing business
  • Public baths
  • Scrubbing in public baths
  • Bumping on the street without apologies
  • Eating dog meat
  • Spitting on the street
  • Toilet paper outside of the bathroom
  • Trashcans in the bathroom
  • Scissors in the kitchen
  • Taking off shoes at home
  • Wearing slippers at home
  • Asking strangers their age
  • Greeting people with the question, “Have you had lunch?”
  • Texting on the subway
  • “Paid designated drivers”
    (hired drivers to bring you home after you’ve been drinking)
  • Smoking in many places
  • Stores open later
  • “Couple clothes”  and “Couple rings”
  • Students getting (very) dressed up for school.
  • “Go-stop”(game)
  • Traffic during holidays
  • Being a divided nation
  • Drinking culture

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