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Showing posts from November, 2013

10 other things South Korea does better than anywhere else

Recently this article about 10 things that South Korea does better than anywhere else has been making the rounds on social media, but when I first read it, I couldn't tell if it was sincere or satire. A few of the items on the list are not very positive, such as "overworking" and "using credit cards". So, I thought I would try to put together a better list. Here are 10 other things South Korea does better than anywhere else:

1) Small side dishes, a.k.a. "banchan" (반찬)

Banchan are by far my favorite aspect of Korean cuisine. Rather than the "appetizer and main dish" approach of the West, a Korean meal is essentially built around small dishes. Even a 5,000 won (about $5 USD) meal at a mall food court will come with two to four banchan in addition to the "main", and often people will actually choose restaurants based on the banchan (e.g., seolleongtang, or beef bone broth soup, places tend to have the tastiest kimchi). There are hundred…

Is It Worth It To Learn Korean?

Learning Korean as a non-Asian foreigner is an exercise in masochism. Note that I specify "non-Asian". Why does that make a difference? Simply because Koreans possess a deeply-ingrained belief that non-Asians are incapable of speaking Korean. The self-fulfilling prophecy of it is that since Koreans expect you to be incapable of speaking Korean, due to this mental block, they are likely to not understand you regardless of your proficiency level. Additionally, they won't respond to you with normal Korean like they would respond to an Asian person, because they assume you couldn't possibly understand. You will rarely ever have an opportunity to hear natural Korean, because Koreans simply won't speak it with you unless 1) they are open-minded and awesome (meaning they have probably lived abroad - thank you to all of you), or 2) they have known you long enough that they've gotten past the odd sight of a foreigner speaking Korean.

In short, nearly every time you op…