South Korea has quickly gained global recognition for its vibrant culture, cutting-edge technology, and economic prowess. From its delicious cuisine to its dynamic pop culture, South Korea has much to offer to the world. However, beyond K-pop and K-dramas, there are numerous fascinating realities about this country that are mysterious to the most people. In this article, we will explore 15 intriguing and lesser-known facts about South Korea that are sure to pique your interest and expand your knowledge of this fascinating country. So let’s dive in and discover what makes South Korea such a unique and captivating place.
1. Koreans have a strong affinity for shopping
Shopping is something that many Koreans do on a regular basis. Shopping malls in South Korea tend to stay open until 4am on average. This makes it convenient for busy people to shop after work or school. One of the country’s largest shopping attractions is Shinsegae. It is the biggest department store in the world at over three million square feet. Payment is made either by cash or credit card. There are also plenty of discounts and offers to take advantage of too. South Korea is an excellent destination for anyone who loves to shop.
2. Robots Everywhere
South Korea is at the forefront of the robotic revolution. It boasts the highest density of robots in the world. Everywhere you look, robots are making their presence felt, from factories to prison guards to waiters and even teachers. In factories, robots are helping to automate processes and make production more efficient. They also serve as prison guards, monitoring inmates and boosting security.
In restaurants, robotic waiters have become popular, offering an efficient way of serving customers and reducing labor costs. Even schools have embraced robotic technology, with robots being used to teach classes and interact with students.
3. Koreans avoid using Red Ink
In the United States, black or blue ink are the most professional for formal writing, however, other colors are used too. In South Korea, red ink is seen as a special color used to signify death or imminent death. Red ink has been used to indicate death in business and government documents since ancient times. Even today, red ink is still a common way of indicating death in South Korea.
4. WiFi almost everywhere in South Korea
South Korea has the world’s fastest Internet. To be precise, Seoul has more Internet connections per resident than any other metropolis. With WiFi available almost everywhere, it’s easy to stay connected throughout the day. You can even connect while moving from one spot to another as many restaurants, cafes and public areas offer free WiFi. This allows travelers and locals alike to quickly access information or download maps and apps with ease.
5. Koreans are always older than you
If you’re born on the same day as a South Korean, chances are you won’t be the same age as them. This is because South Koreans calculate age differently from the rest of the world. When a baby is born in South Korea, they are considered one year old, and age another year when the next Lunar New Year occurs. Even if two individuals were born on the same day, the South Korean may be up to two years older. This is why you would find it peculiar if someone who appears to be two years younger than you is actually older.
6. It’s common in Korea to ask about blood types
In Korean culture, it is common to ask about a person’s blood type as a way of getting to know them better and understanding their personality traits.
In Korea, it is believed that a person’s blood type can reveal certain aspects of their character and temperament. For example, people with type A blood are often described as reserved and introverted, while those with type B blood are thought to be more outgoing and independent. Type O blood is associated with confidence and assertiveness, while type AB is considered to be a combination of traits from both A and B.
Asking about someone’s blood type is not considered impolite or intrusive in Korean culture, and it is often seen as a harmless way to start a conversation or build a connection with someone. Many Koreans even use blood type as a basis for matchmaking or compatibility assessments in romantic relationships.
7. Drinking in public is legal
In South Korea, there are no regulations on drinking in public sites. You can drink alcohol on the vehicle, walking down the street, and even at the beach. Alcohol consumption is permitted anywhere, including both public and private spaces. You can drink anywhere if you’re of legal drinking age and follow local laws. So why not grab a drink and enjoy the sights and sounds of South Korea?
8. Koreans don’t have beard
In South Korea, beards have long been associated with authority and power, often appearing in historical artwork and artwork depicting gods and kings. In modern South Korea, beards are considered dirty and barbaric.
Many employers view a man with facial hair as being too wild or rebellious, which could prevent them from getting a job. This stigma against beards has led to many men in South Korea choosing to remain clean-shaven.
9. Koreans say Kimchi instead of Cheese
In South Korea, saying “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when taking a photo is sure to get everyone to smile. Kimchi is a pickled cabbage side dish, and is a staple in the South Korean diet. It has become so popular that it is served as a seasoning on pizza, tacos, and burgers. Kimchi is not only mouthwatering but also very nutritious due to its high fibre, vitamin, and mineral content.
Kimchi is also said to have probiotic benefits, helping to boost the digestive system and overall health. So next time you take a group photo in South Korea, say “Kimchi!” instead of “Cheese!” for guaranteed smiles all around.
10. Korean Men Wear Makeup
Many Korean men wear makeup. In fact, the use of cosmetics by men, known as “men’s makeup” or “makeup for men,” is a growing trend in South Korea, and is often seen as a way to enhance one’s appearance, boost confidence, and project a professional image.
The Korean beauty industry has developed a wide range of makeup products specifically for men, including foundations, concealers, and lip balms, as well as more traditional skincare products like cleansers and moisturizers. Many Korean celebrities, including male K-pop idols and actors, are also known for their use of makeup, and their flawless, “perfect” look is often emulated by fans.
20% of men in South Korea regularly wear makeup. This equates to almost $900 million spent every year on makeup by men in South Korea. This makeup trend is widely accepted and even encouraged in the country, with beauty stores and makeup products specifically targeting men. It’s considered stylish and fashionable, and is quickly becoming a global trend.
11. Plastic Surgery is Popular in South Korea
In South Korea, plastic surgery is widely accepted and even encouraged. Teenagers often get plastic surgery before entering university, and their parents often pay for it. South Korean women most often seek plastic surgery for their eyes, nose, and chin. In comparison to many other countries, South Korea offers more affordable plastic surgery.
12. South Koreans eat more than 1 million dogs each year
Eating dogs is a culture that has been a part of South Korean life for centuries. In recent years, the practice has declined and become more distinctive. According to estimates, South Korea consumes one million dogs yearly. Most of these animals are raised on dog farms, with some figures estimating up to two million.
13. “Have You Eaten Well?” means “How are you?”
In South Korea, it is common to greet someone by asking “Have you eaten well?” which may seem strange to those unfamiliar with Korean culture. However, this phrase is more than just an inquiry into one’s dietary habits—it is actually a way of asking “How are you?” In Korea, the phrase literally translates to “Have you eaten rice (or food)?” It is thought that the traditional phrase originated from a time when food was scarce and people needed to know if their family and friends had access to enough nutrition to survive.
14. Koreans are the largest drinkers in Asia
Koreans are among the largest consumers of alcohol in Asia. According to a 2019 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), South Koreans over the age of 15 consumed an average of 10.9 liters of alcohol per capita per year, which is higher than the regional average for Asia and the global average.
Alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in Korean culture, with many social activities and business meetings revolving around drinking. Traditional Korean alcohol such as soju, makgeolli, and rice wine are popular choices, and many Koreans also enjoy beer, whiskey, and other imported beverages.
However, the high level of alcohol consumption in Korea has raised concerns about public health and safety, particularly in relation to drunk driving and alcohol-related health problems such as liver disease and cancer. The Korean government has taken steps to address these issues, including implementing stricter laws on drinking and driving and promoting public awareness campaigns about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption.
15. Gangnam Style became popular in Korea
“Gangnam Style” was composed by South Korean musician Psy. It became the first song to hit one billion views on YouTube, making it a global sensation and earning Psy international fame. The song is about the Gangnam District, an affluent district in Seoul, South Korea known for its upscale lifestyle and trendy culture.
16. 4 is an unlucky number in Korea
The number 4 is widely considered unlucky in South Korea and other East Asian countries, due to its similarity to the word for death in many of these languages. Because of this superstition, it’s rare to find a 4 in an elevator button or a house number, as people tend to avoid them. Even the value of properties that have 4 in their address might be lower than those with different numbers.
Also, giving gifts in sets of four is generally avoided, as it is seen as a bad omen. Instead, gifts are given in sets of five or more, as these numbers are considered lucky.
17. Korean loves to Eat Live Octopus
South Korean cuisine is gaining attention for its rich flavors and wide variety. One dish that stands out is the consumption of raw octopus, which is preferred by many South Koreans. This delicacy is served without any cooking, and some even cut off the legs while the octopus is still alive and eat them, throwing away the body into a stew. The dish is known as 산낙지 (sannakji) and can be ordered in many restaurants throughout South Korea.
South Korea has plenty more food that is daring to try and has become a major part of the country’s identity. If you’re looking to explore different dishes and flavors, then a trip to South Korea should definitely be on your list!
18. In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is all about the men
In Korea, Valentine’s Day is traditionally observed as a day when women give gifts, usually chocolates, to men they are romantically interested in. This is known as “White Day,” which takes place on March 14th, when men are expected to return the favor and give gifts to the women who gave them chocolates on Valentine’s Day.
However, in recent years, Valentine’s Day has become more of a two-way street in Korea, with both men and women exchanging gifts and expressing their affection for one another. So while Valentine’s Day may have originally been seen as a day for guys to receive gifts in Korea, it has evolved into a more egalitarian celebration of love and romance.
19. Food delivery is taken very seriously in South Korea.
Food delivery is indeed taken very seriously in South Korea. Delivery drivers are highly respected and considered an important part of the food industry. Many Korean restaurants offer delivery services, and it is common for people to order food to be delivered to their homes or workplaces.
In Korea, food delivery services are known for their speed, efficiency, and accuracy. Many delivery drivers use motorcycles or electric scooters to navigate through traffic and deliver food quickly, even in heavy traffic or bad weather conditions. In addition, many restaurants use special delivery packaging and equipment to ensure that the food stays fresh and hot during transport.
Overall, food delivery is an important part of Korean culture and a convenient way for people to enjoy their favorite foods without having to leave their homes or offices.
20. Sleep Deprivation is a (very) common occurrence in South Korea
Sleep deprivation is indeed a common occurrence in South Korea, particularly among students and workers who face intense academic or work pressure. South Koreans are known for their long work hours, with many employees working more than 50 hours per week, and many students attending cram schools or studying late into the night.
According to some reports, South Koreans on average sleep only around six hours per night, which is significantly less than the recommended 7-9 hours per night for adults. This chronic sleep deprivation can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, including increased risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.
To address the issue of sleep deprivation, the South Korean government has implemented various measures, such as mandating reduced work hours and encouraging companies to create more flexible work schedules. Additionally, some schools and universities have implemented measures to reduce academic pressure and promote better sleep habits among students.