Things People Assume About Korea (and Me, for Moving There)

Pre-Move Thoughts. (I’m on the plane RIGHT NOW as this publishes, by the way. Maybe I’m flying over your head right now, drooling or giving you the finger. Ahh, the magic of modern technology.)

So since announcing that I’m moving to Korea, I have encountered a lot of… preconceived notions about what it will be like. Some of these notions are sourced from people who have first-hand experience, and are trying to share their views (I have a surprisingly large amount of friends who have either lived there in the past or are still currently living there. Moving to Korea, it seems, is a thing.) However, many are sourced from people who… do not have a lot of experience in the subject. Or any experience at all. Perhaps they have never heard of Korea, but believe it to be a vaguely Asian country, and therefore feel bound to discuss it.

This is fine with me. In fact, this is perfectly hilarious to me. As someone who has never visited the Asian continent, much less the tiny country of Korea, I am 100% open to any advice being thrown my way on the subject. So I’m going to record some of the advice and expectations that have been voiced on my move abroad here, for posterity. Also so I can look back and be like “nahhhhhhh” or “yahhhhhhhhh” with the same amount of fervor and confidence the advice givers seem to exude. Future Weatherly, you’re quite welcome.

Expectation #1: South Korea is “Asian” with a capital A.

Most people I’ve talked to seem to view Asia as this sort of… huge mass of slightly different variations on a theme. Whether it’s Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, China, Malaysia– it will be exactly the same as South Korea, according to the advice giver. This got really weird once when someone who spent their summer in Vietnam told me to “watch out for the communist third world black markets” only to find out that South Korea is a democracy with a first-world economy. Pity really. I do love a good politically questionable failing economy. Sigh.

Expectation #2: They eat dog. I will eat dog. Everyone eats dog. Dog is like chicken but cuter, and eaten more often. 

If I had a nickel for every time someone warned me to check and make sure what I was eating wasn’t dog, I’d have the money to buy an education in ‘how to spot dog meat’ and also to fund my own dog nugget factory, as a side gig.

Expectation #3: People will stare at my red hair.

Actually, this one happens in Atlanta, and probably in most other parts of the world. 2% of the world’s population babyyyyyyyyy awwwwww yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh #gingerpower

Expectation #4: I will come back married.

This came from an eager-to-share Korean taxi driver who took my friend Ify around the other day and warned her that some Korean cutie was gonna put a ring on it because the dating culture is outRAGEOUS over there. I mean, I don’t want to tempt fate, but if I’m married after one year abroad, someone better be coming over to test me for head injuries or massive financial debt because something has gone horribly wrong.

Expectation #5: If I go to the DMZ, I will be snatched and kept as a POW in an underground Jong-Un related bunker. 

Because nothing says international politics strategy like the kidnapping of a non-political civilian on American-allied soil! For real though, I can’t lie, of all of these expectations for my big move, this would be my number one choice because hello. I may be kept in an underground bunker, but living in the real life equivalent of a cliche YA dystopian novel under the rule of a crazy dictator would be so banana bonkers that I don’t even think I’d be mad. Impressed, maybe, at my severe lack of any sort of common sense, but prolly not mad. Good job, Hypothetical Future Weatherly, for causing an international incident and being the world’s biggest plonk-for-brains.

Well, that’s just some of the things people have warned me about for my trip to Korea. Comment below if you too have some helpful advice, and I will try to be a sarcastic shit about it in future posts. It’s this sort of give and take relationship that makes life really worthwhile.


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