Living abroad can be extremely challenging, especially if there is a language barrier involved. However, there are definitely many things we love about living in South Korea. Here are our top 8:
1. The food
There is nothing we love more than food and Korean food is no exception. At first glance the food in Korea doesn’t look like much, but it definitely grows on you and we are certainly big fans. The strong, unique flavors keep our taste buds alive and our cravings for spice can always be satisfied. Korean food is extremely well balanced and the wide variety of side dishes mean you are never bored.
In general, South Korea is a very safe place and it’s something we really love about living here. Although, like every country, there are instances of theft, rape and murder, these crimes are not very common and people do not live in fear of them. While we are used to always being vigilant about our belongings, in South Korea you can leave your bags, laptops, or cellphones to go to the bathroom with complete faith that they will be there when you get back. If you leave anything behind on buses or in taxis they will usually be kept for you until you claim them, and walking home alone late at night is totally normal. It is incredibly freeing to not have to worry about your personal safety or constantly have to check your belongings.
Living in South Korea means we are spoilt with super fast internet and access to it pretty much wherever we go. Not only is it the fastest internet in the world (21.0 MB/s) but it is also very affordable and, in most public places, completely free. While we have never really been attached to internet access it has definitely made our lives much more convenient.
South Koreans love festivals and we have definitely joined the band wagon. There is a festival for just about everything in South Korea. From the wet and wild Boryeong Mud Festival to the beautiful Yeuido Cherry Blossom Festival and the strange Cheongsando Slow Walking Festival, South Korea has got it all. Not only is this a great way to experience and learn more about Korean culture, but it also means there is always something to do. Every weekend there is guaranteed to be some sort of festival and with the wide variety of choices throughout the year, we are continually entertained.
5. Public Transport
South Korea has to be one of the most easily accessible places in the world (once you get there of course). The fantastic bus network across the country means you can get pretty much anywhere at a very reasonable price. The train network and super fast KTX train is also an option and even taxis are relatively cheap. This makes travelling around South Korea very easy and affordable. For country bumpkins like us, it’s something we definitely don’t take for granted.
6. Traditional and Modern
We love being able to experience the traditional Korean culture but at the same time be able to relish in some western comforts from time to time. South Korea has the perfect combination of both traditional and modern elements, which allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture and still seek out your western comforts when you need to. Of course there are some things that you will always miss from home but being able to have a South African meal or glass of wine, although outrageously expensive, is surprisingly comforting.
In South Korea you can get ANYTHING delivered to you at your front door or even at a location with no address (ie. By the lake in a park). Ordering food from restaurants in a small town can be tricky as you will need to know at least some basic Korean. However, you can pretty much buy anything online, including groceries, and have them delivered to your door within a few days for a relatively small fee.
8. Four Seasons
While winter can be brutal and we are always more than happy when spring rolls around, we have loved living in a country with four distinct seasons. South Korea is beautiful throughout the year and we love witnessing how different the cities or areas are in each season. Each season also brings different activities and the extreme weather changes mean you can enjoy the beach in the hot summers, and also go skiing during the cold winter months.