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Jo's Korean and Other Crazy Adventures Jo is coming back to teach in China for a second year that is sure to be filled with new crazy adventures!

Third Time's A Charm?

SOUTH KOREA | Friday, 24 October 2008 | Views [1453] | Comments [1]

After being away from Seoul, Korea for six months, I decided to bite the bullet and come back to 'Korea Sparkling,' and 'Land of the Morning Calm.' I decided that being offered more money and more holidays, plus getting a chance to see all the great friends I had made previously, was a good enough reason to embark on a new adventure.

The area I moved into was an area that I vowed I would never move to. It is the busiest area of Seoul, where all the businesses are located, and it is the most modern area of Seoul. Modern also equates to more expensive as I'm quickly learning. I've been living in Gangnam area for a few months now. The place is a zoo. Don't get me wrong. It is clean, and my apartment is extremely new and modern. There are just tons of people around dressed to the gills. I could never dress like I would back in Canada. People in Canada would look like slobs compared to the way people dress here.

Suits, ties, dresses, high heeled shoes, and expensive purses pervade my area. Korea is all about looking the best. The way people look here must be important. I see signs all over the place for plastic surgery. I see girls on the subway looking in mirrors obsessively. I find it sad in a way. Appearances are only skin deep in my opinion. This society has taught me to take more pride in my appearance in a way, but they go way overboard at times with appearances.

This 'superficiality' also happens in the workplace. My boss worries so much about what the parents will say, and how the classroom looks, because I know she is worried about getting a promotion. Things have to appear to be perfect, and orderly. When in fact underneath this facade, things are often disorganized as I'm realizing. This is part of Korean culture that I accept, but don't always agree with.

I'm guessing I'm noticing it more because I live and work in the most affluent area of Seoul. That is just one thing that I've observed over the years of living here in South Korea. Seoul has become so modern and technologically advanced in the past ten years, that it boggles my mind just how westernized it has become. Coffee shops including Starbucks, and Coffee bean are on every block in my neighborhood. The prices for things have also skyrocketed. No thanks, I don't want to pay $5.00 for a coffee at Starbucks.

You have to pay a lot more for western goodies here in Seoul, than you would back home. This makes sense, but Seoul is the second most expensive place to live after Tokyo, Japan. Thankfully my employer pays for my rent, because the cost of living has increased. This is being felt all over the world I suppose.

On the flip side, It has been wonderful to see my many friends, and talk about my adventures in the past six months. I spent three months in South East Asia. A month in each Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. I also feel that once you've spent time in Cambodia, you draw a different perspective about money and poverty. The people in Cambodia are so poor, and they work to live. They are friendly towards foreigners, and very giving. It was very refreshing to see.

After leaving Cambodia, I felt that we are spoiled as westerners, and even Koreans are spoiled. We don't appreciate what we have. For many people, life is often about wanting more, and being never satisfied. I learned a lot from visiting Cambodia. It has changed my outlook on life.

Tags: culture, outlook, philosophy

 

Comments

1

Hey Jo! I was in Korea in 07 finishing up my University degree in style. I have been itching to go back and have thus considered teaching english. What can you say that will either dash my hopes or provide that little bit of a push I need to get off my but and make it happen?

Regards,

Nate

  Nate Feb 13, 2009 3:59 PM

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