After recently being named one of the new writers for The Korea Blog by Korea.net, I started thinking about what I missed most about Korea (and Korean culture). And thinking about it, of course, made me want to share with you my favourites. I came up with a nice, long list so I decided to divide it into two different posts. First, this post which is my “top 10” favourite things about Korea (more about culture) and second, my next post which will be my “top 10” places in Korea (more about travel and tourism).
My “Top 10” Favourite Things about Korea
The people I met
This is hands down my favourite aspect of Korea. In my three years there, I met some absolutely fabulous friends! Some in normal situations (work, through other friends, etc) and some through new methods (online, the subway, at bars/clubs) but regardless, I had the good fortune of meeting some wonderful people.
I’ve always loved shopping but Korea is a shopper’s paradise! Plus it was made even better by the fact that shoes always fit there (which isn’t always true for heels in Toronto). Not only was the shopping amazing but you can shop all night long (Dongdaemun) which is great for me as I usually worked until 10 pm. And the prices are amazing!
I love Korean food! It’s all so yummy. Okay, it really helps that I like spicy food because a lot of Korean food is spicy but there’s something for everyone. When you visit Korean, don’t be afraid to try something new. My favourites include doenjangjiggae (된장-찌개), dwegi galbi (대지 갈비), kimchi (김치) of course, and shabu shabu (which is actually Japanese but I first ate it in Korea). My new mission is to learn how to cook Korean food (I love cooking) and you can watch my progress on my new YouTube channel – CindyinTO (starting next weekend, my camera died!).
I worked in Korea for three years and I found out that I really enjoyed teaching English. It was fun (most of the time) and extremely rewarding at times – like when one of my students won a speech competition or another wrote a thought-provoking essay.
K-pop and Korean music
I love music and found several bands and singers that I enjoyed. I think I own every album that BigBang (my first K-pop fav) put out – both as a group and individually. Plus the CDs in Korea generally have little extras like a small photo book or a pop-up which is fun. And you can sing all your favourites at a noraebang (Korean singing room) with your friends. Once I moved to Seoul, I discovered some great indie and hip hop musicians too.
Dramas and Films
Korea produces some very entertaining TV shows (which are generally called “dramas”) – Coffee Prince will always be my favourite but there is something for everyone. Other favourites include IRIS, which is a great action/spy thriller, and Personal Taste (개인의 취향), which is a cute romantic comedy that can also make you cry (or at least me). There are also tons of great flicks – My Tutor Friend (동갑내기 과외하기) was the first I watched and still a favourite.
I love dancing and Seoul especially has some fabulous clubs with great DJs spinning out tunes. Hongdae and Gangnam are my favourite clubbing areas but there were others too. There is also a difference between a “club” and a “night” (or “nightclub”). There are also some fabulous bars for live music in Hongdae.
Korea has lots to see and experience and there are tons of museums and historical places to visit. One must-see is the city of Gyeongju – which is basically a living museum there are so many beautiful historical sites to see. There are also some fabulous museums in Seoul.
I’m a huge fan of nature and even though Korea is thoroughly modern, there is lots of country-side and national parks to hike through. They can be busy at times but they are always beautiful.
There is nothing like spending the day at the beach (even in October) for relaxation and Korea is a peninsula, so there are lots of beaches. All that sea also means lots of fresh seafood – I’ve never had better prawns or other shellfish as I did there! Plus I learned a delicious new way to cook prawns/shrimp. ^^