3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart

September 7, 2015
south korea
Why South Korea?

3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart

Traveling, let alone moving, across the world can be an exciting yet terrifying idea that not many people take the opportunity to do. But being able to explore and experience something so new is rewarding and it will drastically change one’s view on life as well as the world. Moving to South Korea was that big step that terrified me yet made me a better, more rounded world citizen.

I have learned so much while I have been here, and Seoul has become a place that is very special to me.

Many people asked me why I chose to move to South Korea. Honestly, my reason was not that exciting. “I got a job.” That’s it. In fact, I had just graduated from university with no job prospect at home. I wanted to travel the world, but with practically no money at home, working and teaching abroad seemed like the best alternative.

South Korea has a good size job market for native English teachers, so it was not difficult to find a job and move across the world. But now having lived here for nine months, I can easily see why South Korea is a great destination for anyone:

3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart

1. It’s welcoming–for the most part.

People, in general, are pretty welcoming to foreigners, especially in Seoul, where there is a large American population. Thanks to the US military presence in the city, as well as across the peninsula of Korea, most Koreans are not fazed by the foreigners walking among them, though diversity is still an issue. There are those locals that can be rude and inconsiderate to visitors, but most people either ignore you or are polite and welcoming.

Thanks to the huge pressure to learn English in schools, many of the younger generation know limited English and are more willing to communicate with foreigners and to help them when needed. I discovered this many times when school-age children were sent forward by their parents and grandparents to ask if I needed help.

Koreans sometimes seem cold when they are not close with you. But once they get to know you, they are some of the most caring and considerate friends you can have. Also, they’re essential for making sure you see the places that only the locals know about, especially for some delicious food and drinks.

I have been able to get around and live comfortably with my very limited knowledge of Korean thanks to many very understanding store keepers and workers. By just attempting to communicate and smiling, people were happy to help me and make sure that I got what I wanted.

It also helped that I made friends who were able to translate for me. Making Korean friends is easy if you just make the effort. Koreans sometimes seem cold when they are not close with you. But once they get to know you, they are some of the most caring and considerate friends you can have. Also, they’re essential for making sure you see the places that only the locals know about, especially for some delicious food and drinks.

palace

2. The mix of modern and old is perfect.

The Korean peninsula is in the news a lot lately, thanks to the international attention from that man in the north. It is a place where history is still being written every day because of this conflict.  But South Korea is special in that has been able to preserve its culture and history while also being a modern, thriving country.

It is different from the Western world in many ways, but everything is so accessible and approachable that with simple determination, I was able to make this city and country feel like home.

Seoul, itself, is a city with high-tech companies, such as Samsung, yet is surrounded by peaceful palaces and mountains that tell the story of older times. The balance plays a key factor in everyday life, as tradition is mixed with technology. Everywhere you go, there is so much to learn, from the history to cultural norms and food preparation.

It is different from the Western world in many ways, but everything is so accessible and approachable that with simple determination, I was able to make this city and country feel like home.

3. Safety

Even though North Korea is only about 35 miles (or 56 km) from the capital, Seoul and South Korea, in general, are very safe. I feel completely relaxed when walking home during the early hours of the morning, especially as a woman. Coming from LA, where you have to be careful no matter what time of day, I had to get used to not having to clutch my bag or continuously look over my shoulder.

From the people to the history and the amazing food, it is a place that can appeal to anyone’s interest. Just come with an open mind and a smile on your face.

Korean society is rooted in Buddhist ideals that believe in respect and peace towards others. Therefore, it is common to see drunk office workers sleeping on the sidewalks completely undisturbed or women of all ages wandering the streets late at night. Theft is not a common occurrence and the violence rate is extremely low.

I have never felt more comfortable or happy in a place, knowing that I am safe and cared for in such a big city.

South Korea is becoming an up-and-coming travel destination, and I can see why. From the people to the history and the amazing food, it is a place that can appeal to anyone’s interest. Just come with an open mind and a smile on your face.

3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart

Related Reading

So Much Culture Shock in South Korea
South Korea Travel Tips: Rebecca’s Take on Health, Safety and Romance
Travel South Korea: A Conversation with Rebecca Biage
Losing My Way and Finding Myself in Seoul
Finding Balance and Self-Acceptance in South Korea
Beware of This When Learning Korean

Have you traveled to South Korea? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

About Elizabeth Neal

Elizabeth NealElizabeth is currently an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. She hopes to be able to continue to explore South Korea and other Asian countries while trying to make a difference with the younger generation. She has previously studied in Italy and has been able to explore portions of Europe and the British Isles. As a young travel writer, she hopes to encourage others to explore the world and experience as much as one can.

One thought on “3 Reasons Why South Korea Stole My Heart

  1. Avatar
    Lisa
    September 9, 2015
    Reply

    Your reason for moving may have been simple, but would you have even considered a job abroad if you weren’t such a citizen of the world already?
    Glad you’re having a great experience!

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