South Korea is a nation unlike any other. The self-proclaimed “drug-free country” seems to forget the fact that alcohol is a drug. They also overlook drunk people passed out on the sidewalk. Apparently the inconvenience of stepping around them is worth the convenience of alcohol being sold 24/7/365.
During my time in Korea, I noticed many strange things that are considered completely normal. Like lipstick and makeup and nipple stickers for men. And vending machines that sell candy alongside condoms. (Let’s be honest, how often do you need a Hershey’s bar and a condom at the exact same time? That says a lot about someone, and none of it positive.)
You Might Be In Korea If…
If you arrive at traditional village only to be greeted by this sign, you might be in Korea.
If every water bottle at every restaurant has an alcohol advertisement on it — even during breakfast — you might be in Korea.
If your bus driver pulls over on the side of the road and gets out to smoke a cigarette, you might be in Korea.
If you wait in a 1-hour queue to get into a small hipster cartoon coffee shop, you might be in Korea.
This place is popular with Instagramers, for obvious reasons. Cool and quirky, sure, but only worth the 1+hr queue if you have limited time in Seoul and want to hit as many quirky places as possible (like we did).
If your hotel has condoms in the vending machine next to Hershey’s candy bars, you might be in Korea.
If makeup/beauty stores include a Men’s section, you might be in Korea.
Men’s makeup and beauty products are big business in South Korea. Shockingly big. So big they even make unisex lipstick.
For me the fun part was trying out all the weird, uniquely Korean men’s beauty products. Like nipple stickers, deodorant pads, facial masks, crotch cream, and other intriguing items. I excluded all items that removed hair (like men’s leg razors and nasal knives) because….well, although not naturally hairless, I am naturally hair-light. And the minute you go cutting hair it always grows back thicker and darker (except in the places you want it to, like your head).
If the trash starts to look like strangely beautiful works of urban street art, you might be in Korea.
If you see the same guy in the same red suit in front of every hotel in the country, you might be in Korea.
If you discover the country has not one but two museums dedicated to sex, you must be in Korea!
Make no mistake, I loved my time in Korea. It was the happiest time of my life. Before the fire. However my love of Korea is somewhat overshadowed by their obsession with alcohol and makeup.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust a nation that is simultaneously so drunk and so fake. Not exactly the best first impression.