Half the fun of traveling around the world is seeing how weird and different life can be in these different places! (At least for me it is!) Well South Korea is no exception. When I traveled to South Korea I was totally surprised by some of what I saw. Seoul is a really modern and westernized city, but it’s got plenty of weird and amazingly unique things to surprise visitors. These are 10 of the weirdest things about South Korea:
10 of the Weirdest Things About South Korea:
- They eat fried beetles
Yes, for real. There are fried beetles for sale at lots of the street food carts. It’s super icky, but a definite must-try when you’re here! This cuisine dates back to before Seoul grew into a successful economic hub, back when money was tight and people relied on bugs for protein when proper meat was unaffordable. Would you be brave enough to try fried beetles??
- There are palaces and temples everywhere!
These ancient palaces and temples are all over Seoul, nestled in between high rises and skyscrapers and malls and convenience stores. Nobody would dare suggest moving the temples or demolishing them altogether because they’re sacred and important structures. But they’re also not about to slow down their growth and progress, so instead they just build up around them!
- Cat cafés
Yes, the rumors are true. Korea is crazy for cats, and they have actual cat cafés where you can play with kittens while you sip your latte! They also have dog cafés, which I opted for since I miss my puppy dog back at home. Either way, these cuddly coffee shops are too weird and cool to miss!
- Nobody crosses the street before the signal
This would be seriously heresy in NYC. But in Seoul, no pedestrians dare cross the street before the walk signal goes on! Even if there are no cars coming and the path is clear. It totally freaked me out. And I found myself, oddly enough, waiting for the signal instead of jaywalking…I guess that’s the power of peer pressure.
- A whole world exists behind the main streets
In most cities, you get what you see from the main street. But where the action is in Seoul, is down a back alleyway that leads to an entire bustling market! You’d never suspect it from the streets. It’s super weird and I had to get over my initial instinct that back alleys are dangerous and sketchy, before I could delve in and enjoy the action!
- Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
This, and any other cutting edge trend you can think of, is found here in Seoul. The Koreans love to be on top of the latest trends, so you can be sure to find the most progressive foods, clothes, technology, and more, here in Seoul!
- Excellence in service
Maybe I’ve been hanging out in American restaurants too much, where the waiters are disgruntled and overworked. But I was blown away by the level of service excellence everywhere in Seoul. Whether you go to a gas station convenience store, a café, a hotel, or the ticket booth at the subway, the people working are excited to be there. They’re excited to serve you, they genuflect when you arrive and order and pay and leave, they’re incredibly formal and polite, they take pride in their work, and they’re ALWAYS smiling. I’ve never experienced service like this before. I’m really impressed! And the weirdest thing of all…you don’t have to tip. I was actually refused several times at the beginning when I tried tipping!
- Selfie sticks are the accessory of the season
Make that, the accessory of the year. Everyone carries one around, from teens to families to business men! No need to be shy about taking a selfie here! The selfie stick revolution is one of the weirdest things about South Korea for sure.
- There are no homeless people
In two weeks, I never saw a homeless person, a stray dog or cat, or any litter in the streets. (The latter of which is insane because there are NO public trash bins!) I hardly realized how clean and well cared for the city is until I tried looking for a homeless person on the streets or in the subway or outside the 7-11, and then I realized there are none! South Korea must take really good care of its people.
- Cafés are everywhere
Seriously, I sometimes had to double check whether I was in Paris. The chain café called Paris Baguette is on every single street corner. Koreans LOVE French cafés and café culture, so expect to find cafés everywhere you look. Oh, and the cafés can sometimes take an odd twist that you wouldn’t expect…like a hotdog café…interested?
So there they are, 10 of the weirdest things about South Korea. I experienced so much culture shock here that I’m not even sure that I could convey it all to you in one blog post! But I hope you get the chance to visit and see for yourself how crazy different and weird and awesome Seoul is! Have you visited South Korea? What would you add to this list of Weirdest Things about South Korea?
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