A lot of blogs you read about Korea will only highlight the positives. Its great to be positive but when I first came to Korea we were looking for information but nothing prepared us for the reality. Korea is a great place but there are some things that can be somewhat irksome.
The weather in Korea ranges from extremely cold to excessively humid. Its cold most of the year. Winter temperatures are around -12 and even when the temperature is 10 degrees it feels like 3 degrees. During Spring the wind is often chilly. It gets warmer during May but by September its cold again. The Summers are mostly OK but there are around 3 weeks from late July to early August that it is incredibly humid, when you walk too far it feels like you’re struggling to breath.
This is a problem that we’ve only experienced in the smaller cities. Since we can’t all work in Seoul and Busan therefore we are often placed in small cities. First of all the big department stores all over Korea are closed every 2nd and 4th Sunday( shopping hours 10am -10pm). This is so as to give the smaller shops a chance to make some money. This isn’t a problem because we know about it and work accordingly. BUT some of the smaller shops are often closed on the days that the big department stores are open. This is frustrating because it happens irregularly. They have no sign to indicate that they are closed. They just close whenever they feel like it. In addition some store will say that they open a specific time and then they’re not open when you get there. Another thing is that the stores in smaller areas only open around 11 a.m therefore if you are stressed for time and wanted to buy something quickly before work, then you can’t because they open too late. This is especially a problem if you had to browse around first
Korea is a Patriarchy. Although woman have some place in Korea you will often notice that men will not talk to you directly if there is another man present. For example when you are married or have a boyfriend they will rather explain everything to your partner rather than to you. It is not a huge problem if you don’t pay too much attention to it, but there are some people who might find this annoying or disrespectful. The main thing to remember is “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”.
There are some really big Korean girls in Korea, but it seems that society doesn’t want to except the fact that they are getting bigger. I’ve seen some really big girls but when you walk into the shops and try to buy size 10 (UK) pants then you can’t because they only stock up to size 8 (UK) Another thing is shoes. I recently tried to buy a big European brand shoe in a size 39 and they told me in the store that the designer doesn’t make the shoe in that size that’s why they only have size 38’s, which was a blatant lie, because I’ve fit a size 39 in South Africa in that exact shoe. In addition the shoe is available at the designers website up to size 42. It is possible to find foreigner sized clothes in Myeong-dong and Itaewon but if you don’t live in or around Seoul its a real mission to go there.
All these things aren’t so bad and these are just the experiences we had. It is totally something one can live with if you accept people as they are and make the appropriate preparations. These are just some of my experiences. If you have experienced something similar or something I have neglected to mention then please feel free to comment below 🙂