Welcome to South Korea, quite possibly the cutest country in Asia, and undeniably the most drunken nation in the world. Koreans drink more than twice as much alcohol as the second hardest drinking country, Russia. My first impressions of Korea were of being surrounded by cute women and cute cartoon characters alongside countless bars and drunk people stumbling down the streets at night.
Here is a quick overview of some of the lessons learned from my first impressions of Korea plus the information, photos and videos that you will find in this post:
Cute Korean women are not actually cute
Korean men wear makeup to make themselves cute
Korean Nipple Stickers for me: how to use (and remove) video
Even items such as food and household products are cute
Korean drinking rules, etiquette and bars
Korean internet speeds
Korean money denominations and prices
Size does matter in Korea
97% of alcohol sold in Korea is liquor, primarily soju, the national drink of Korea.
See More Unique & Traditional Types of Alcohol Around The World
My First Impressions Of Korea
Drinking in Korea
The only country where liquor comes in giant 10-litre bottles!
10 years ago while living in Tokyo, I thought that drinking was the national pastime of Japan. HA! How wrong I was. In Korea the mentality is: “Work hard, drink hard.” Say this to any Korean man and they will immediately begin laughing hysterically
Drinking In Korea Is A Team Sport
Unlike in most other countries, where going to the bar alone is not only common but a great way to meet singles, that is unheard of here in Korea. Drinking is always done in groups. Bars have tables instead of bar stools, and people always stick with their group while getting drunk, rather than mingling with strangers or people from another group and making new friends. If you are traveling Korea solo, this makes it very difficult to make new friends over alcohol — something which I do in every country I visit. (Yes, even the Muslim ones ssshhhhhh!)
There are even special bars here that only serve alcohol if you also order food. Why? This is to keep customers from getting too drunk too fast. Drinking in South Korea is NOT a slow process — it is basically a race to see who can get the most drunk the fastest. Shots are poured and passed around like candy.
There is even a Korean drinking ga– (well, it’s not much of a game….more of a challenge) known as “one shot”. No, it is not one single shot. It is an entire glass of soju (20-50% ABV rice wine) that is chugged in one single shot. Any foreigner that can pull this off will immediately win the respect of all the Koreans around him.
Oh Korea, what will you think of next?
Cute is King in Korea
From the moment you step off the airplane, prepare to be surrounded by cute women and cute cartoon characters. Advertisements, clothing, food, games, household products, souvenirs, television shows and even warning signs all feature cute cartoon characters. Although the use of cartoon advertising is widespread in Asia, no country does it quite like South Korea.
Cute Korean Women Are Not Actually Cute…They Are Fake
Hate to ruin the dreams of all the men out there, but Korean women use extreme amounts of makeup to alter their appear so drastically that they become unrecognizable to their own families! They spend hours applying obscene amounts of makeup on a daily basis — including items such as double eyelids, nose thinners and products designed to shrink lips, enlarge eyes, and even shape their face into perfect V-shaped cartoon proportions. Videos of these phenomenal daily transformations are all over the internet and social media. (And you thought your girlfriend wears a lot of makeup, HA!)
These women are completely unrecognizable after all of the makeup has been removed, so it should be no surprise that South Korea has the highest rate of beauty-enhancing procedures per capita. 1 in 5 Koreans has plastic surgery to enhance their features.
In South Korea being cute is mandatory — not just for cartoon characters and women but also for men.
Although not directly related to the high suicide rate, the need to look a certain way plays a big part in a Korean’s self-worth, especially if they feel they can’t reach society’s standards.
Wikipedia > Korean Beauty Standards
Not cute? Well then you must be an animal. My airport arrival was interesting, to say the least
One hour in Korea and I'm still in the animal quarantine. Apparently I'm an animal 😂 #ddwdd pic.twitter.com/HH31CbRKJs
— Derek Freal (@the_HoliDaze) August 12, 2018
Travel Different. Travel Offbeat. Offbeat Travel Guides
Male Beauty Products
Because Korean men prefer cute over masculine 😂
A trip to a beauty store on my first day here revealed more male beauty products than I even knew existed. From nipple stickers designed to keep those pointy bastards from being visible underneath your shirt to crotch cleanser and hair removal products for every part of the male body, it would appear that the most attractive Korean men are also the most feminine. Their logic is that if the women take time to be as beautiful as possible, so should they.
Nipple Stickers For Men!
Since everyone wanted to know WTF was up with Korean nipple stickers for men, this week I tested them out. The following video is for all you curious folks. Oh and the Korean translation of the label on the front of the box is: Pleasant Vigor Grooming Conquest 😂
Cute Household Products
Even ordinary household products such as sponges, clocks, pillows, fans and kitchen appliances need to be cute! Spend a few minutes shopping around any city in Korea and you will begin to understand. Just take a look at some of these products I discovered my first weekend in Korea:
Korean Internet Speeds
Sadly, Korean internet speeds are not near as fast as they are rumored to be.
Korean internet is only fast if you are browsing Korean-hosted web sites. If you are browsing international sites then you can expect no more than 5 MBPS. By comparison, at the small village in Thailand that I call home, internet speeds actually are nearly 100 MBPS. One night I accidentally synced my wrong folder to the cloud and by the time I realized it over 300GB had been uploaded overnight!
Korean currency is the won and it is pronounced “wan” — like wand without the ‘d’ not like won. Notes come in 50,000, 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 denominations and coins come in 500, 100, and 50. 1,000 won is worth a little under $1 USD, about the same price as a bottled water. Simple convenience store snacks range from 3,000-5,000 and a basic meal for one person can range from 8,000 to 20,000+ won.
Size Does Matter
It’s no secret. Everything in Asia is smaller. From beds and bathtubs to clothing, countertops, ceilings and yes, even condoms, being tall is a huge disadvantage in Southeast Asia.
Despite calling various Asian nations home over the last decade, I still manage to hit my head on a daily basis. Finding clothing that fits is a difficult task and finding shoes or sandals in my size is literally impossible. Even mirrors are hung so low that the reflection is of my chest, rather than my face. This is something that we vertically-gifted people will never be able to get used to, no matter how many years spent in Asia.
Bathtubs here are also incredibly small. Despite staying at one of the top-rated hotels in the city, my foot is nearly as wide as the bathtub. Even the shower head is located at eye-level — and in my attempts to raise it, I accidentally broke the shower. (oops!)
Ever visited Korea? What did you think?
See More Adventures Around Korea
5 thoughts on “First Impressions of Korea: The World’s Cutest And Drunkest Country”
Derek I had no idea they put it away that much in South Korea! Any country that puts Russia to drinking shame is the real deal. I’d be a lightweight there, being a teetotaller and all LOL. Super post dude!
Neither did I Ryan, totally took me by surprise. The country loves to brag about how it’s a “drug free nation” but they seem to forget that alcohol is a drunk, and a very damaging one. Cirrhosis of the liver is a big problem here among men — alcohol is literally sold 24/7/365 everywhere, it’s crazy. Additionally, most all pain medication except basic ones like paracetamol are illegal here — and of the 40 legal painkillers allowed by the government, 12 of them are alcohol! (The rest are for arthritis, indigestion, or other things like that which most foreigners would not consider painkillers.) It’s a country full of conundrums like that, at least from my first impressions so far. Will be here for two months altogether but this much I already know: I could never live in South Korea.
Haw! Haw! But Noooo!
I couldn’t in the least imagine it, but I love it.
Have I been to South Korea? Yes. Did I love it? Yes? Did I know about this stuff? Nooooo! Quick. Hide the nipple stickers!!!!!
Don’t get me wrong Victoria, there are things I like here — such as the ease and efficiency of public transportation, plus the habitual recycling of everything, everywhere and green focus. But I’ve been here a month now and those were just my first impressions from the initial few days.
BTW I’m mailing out nipple stickers attached to postcards to friends around the world so that they can test them out. If you want a couple of pairs to play with, just email me back your address and I’ll drop a postcard in the mail this week 😂