There are many things I love about Korea, but here are a few things (in no particular order) that I have really appreciated about Korea while living here the past few months.
1) Public Transportation
I believe Seoul has the best public transportation in the world! And it’s no exaggeration. You can use a re-loadable money card (called a T-money card) to access taxis, subways, and buses easily. The buses and subway is particularly amazing because it’s so cheap, only about a dollar to go 10km. I typically take the subway if I need to go anywhere, because it’s very fast and typically you don’t need to wait more than a few minutes to catch the next subway. Also, the subway is kept very clean and has excellent air-conditioning (particularly line 2 has great air-conditioning). With public transportation, you can easily get anywhere in Seoul!
Korea has beautiful mountains! There are plenty of places to go hiking and camping with picturesque views. If you’re in Seoul you can visit the Han River and take a relaxing stroll or a bike ride. Also there are plenty of sky scrapers and buildings to be seen from places like Namsan Tower. Get your camera ready for some amazing pictures!
There are so so so many cafes in Seoul. Seriously, on about every block you can find multiple cafes. From chain places like Starbucks and Holly’s Coffee to cozy independent cafes, you’ll never be at a loss for coffee. Cafes in Seoul are a completely different experience from cafes in North America. The atmosphere within the cafes are comfortable and perfect for studying or just relaxing for a few hours. Often pillows and blankets are provided. Each cafe has it’s own distinctive feel, so it’s exciting to try new places.
4) Pop Culture
With the Korean Wave (Hallyu) people all over the world are interested in Korean dramas, movies, and music. Walking down the streets of Seoul, often you hear stores playing various catchy Kpop songs and Korean actors are on just about every advertisement on the sides of buses or in the subway. If you come to Korea, you can find plenty of people who share your interest in Korean pop culture. Also, there are plenty of Kpop concerts and events (like the free Kpop summer festival) that people in Seoul can attend. If you aren’t in Korea, however, I highly recommend you check out Korean dramas, movies, and music because there are plenty of amazing shows and bands to be discovered!
Restaurants in Korea are great because you can find delicious food for cheap. Something like Kimbap or street food may only be 1-3 dollars. Food in a restaurant can be about 4-8 dollars per dish, and you don’t need to worry about tax because it’s included in the price and you don’t need to tip either. You get large portion sizes typically with side dishes of kimchi, pickled vegetables, or soup. Of course it depends on where you go, because there are certainly expensive restaurants, however most restaurants are very affordable and have delicious food.
This is similar to the last point, but the food here is delicious! Since it’s summer I really enjoy the cold noodle dishes like konggooksu (soy bean noodle soup) and naengmyun (cold buckwheat noodles). One of my favorites anytime of the year is bibimbap (rice with spicy sauce and mixed veggies) because it’s healthy, filling, and yummy. There are so many delicious dishes in Korea that definitely deserve a try!
7) History and Culture
One thing about living in the United States is that its history only goes back a few hundred years as a nation. But Korea has been around for much longer and has a rich history. It’s amazing to be able to go to temples that are hundreds of years old, like Gyeongbokgung which is about 700 years old. There are plenty of amazing historical places to visit in Korea and culture to learn about that is very different from my own. It gives me a new perspective to learn about how people on the other side of the world live. I certainly get to learn and experience amazing things everyday in Korea!