While its noisy northern neighbor usually gets all the attention, South Korea is a pretty awesome place. It has survived Japanese colonization, Soviet meddling, and North Korean threats to become the world’s 12th-largest trading nation. South Korea produces the LG TVs, Hyundai cars and Samsung phones we use every day. K-Pop stars are taking over the world one YouTube video at a time, and their films are receiving worldwide acclaim. However, there’s a lot more to South Korea than technology and Gangnam Style. Plastic SurgerySouth Korea is the largest market for plastic surgery per capita in the world. It is estimated between 1/5 and 1/3 of the women in Seoul have gone under the knife for at least one cosmetic procedure.Dental work is very expensiveFor this reason, all Koreans are very thorough when it comes to dental hygiene. They clean their teeth after every meal as well as after drinking coffee, and they often carry a toothbrush around with them in their bags. In some places, you can even find free toothbrushes in bathrooms.Many Koreans have poor eyesightMany Koreans are shortsighted from a young age and wear glasses or contact lenses. This often creates the impression that they’re born with poor eyesight. Their eyesight is made worse by the fact that they study a lot and often have their gaze fixed on the screens of their devices. However, this hasn’t stopped many of them from achieving a great deal. Two-time Olympic champion Im Dong-hyun sees just 10-20% of what people with perfect vision see, yet he’s won medals for archery!CosmeticsSouth Korean men love makeup, spending close to US$900 million a year, or a quarter of the world’s men’s cosmetics. Up to 20% of the male Korean population is reported to use makeup regularly.Koreans are simply crazy about foodIn every Korean city, all kinds of bars, cafes, and restaurants can be found on every street. Instead of asking, “How are you?“ Koreans might say, ”Have you eaten well?” Missing a meal is tantamount to a sin. Kimchi, their most traditional dish, is made up of heavily spiced and pickled vegetables and, above all, Chinese cabbage.Red InkWhen a Korean’s name is written in red ink, this indicates that that person is about to die or is already dead.South Koreans pay very close attention to gesturesThings should only be physically accepted with both hands, in order to show respect. Koreans also pay special attention to handshakes. Several years ago, Bill Gates fell afoul of local customs in this respect. When meeting the country’s president, he shook her hand whilst keeping the other in his pocket. In Korea, this is seen as a sign of extreme disregard for an individual.Absolutely EVERYONE uses gadgetsEveryone here owns various gadgets (from laptops to simple cell phones), including children and homeless people. Thanks to this, you can find free WiFi practically everywhere. Smartphones have two-year contracts, which helps significantly decrease the cost of maintaining a mobile Internet connection.Internet ExplorerSouth Korea passed a law in 1999 that requires all online shopping and banking to be done using Internet Explorer. It is still in place.Koreans study a lotKoreans study from early in the morning until late at night, irrespective of what day of the week it is. They use their holidays to take additional courses or to study independently. Teaching is considered one of the most prestigious professions. An ordinary teacher earns around $2,500 a month, and if they work in higher educational institutions or private schools, they can earn millions of dollars a year.
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