I Live In Korea

My name is Ben Gwynne. I USED to teach English in Incheon, South Korea. Here's some photos, stories, videos, etc.

1. For rated R movies you have to be 18 to see them, even if you are with your parents. Thank god for the internet.

2. Spitting in public is perfectly acceptable, even “hocking a loogie.” If I go a few hours walking around the city and don’t hear someone coughing up serious phlegm and spitting it right on the ground in front of him, it means there just haven’t been any people around.

3. You should never pour beer for yourself when you are in the company of others. You should let someone pour it for you.

4. You should never pour/receive beer from an elder by holding the cup/bottle with one hand. Two hands is a must or else it is a sign of disrespect.

5. ALL Koreans lie about their age. You turn 1 when you are born, and then 2 at the first day of the New Year. So, if you are born on December 25th, you are one years old, on January 1st, just a few days later, you are 2. Then you resume the normally scheduled birthday pattern, celebrating it on the 25th of December each year. So you are 2 years old before you are even 2 weeks old. Interesting.

6. When you go to a movie there’s assigned seating. This means you won’t walk into a crowded theater and spend time looking for seats and asking “is anyone sitting here?” This is great, I love it. Also at the movies, you are supposed to throw out your own trash. No leaving stuff behind for the theater staff.

7. You pay for garbage bags. Yes, you essentially pay to throw out your garbage. Sounds crazy, but think about how much less waste there would be in the world if everyone did this? I personally can say I consume a lot less trash now because of it.

8. It’s acceptable to bump into people if you are trying to get by. On the train, in school, on the Subway, in the supermarket, in the hallway, in the bathroom, anywhere. There would be a lot less people around if this happened in NYC.

9. Sticking your chopsticks into a bowl of rice and leaving them upright, is like the equivalent of pouring out liquor for someone who died. It should not be done.

10. No tipping. None. Never. To do so is almost a slap in the face and implies “I have money and am better than you.” I've been in a bar before and was due back $0.40 for my drink. I was more eager to go dominate my darts game than wait for my change so I left the bar area. Sure enough, the bartender came from behind the bar and chased me down to give me the change. Seriously, just keep the change.


Chris in South Korea said...

Definitely interesting facts about the culture - as for the lack of tipping, my understanding is that it has something to do with service - because they're not taking money from anyone, they won't be biased as to who they give 'better' service to... As far as he/she is concerned, everyone is above them in the order of things (at least, while he's at work).

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

where are you from? I was just wondering :)

Ben Gwynne said...

New York City, USA!

hope that's not a problem!

Ben Gwynne said...

Thanks Chris. Yours and BrianDeutsch's blogs are my go to korea blogs!

Anonymous said...

wow, cool :D
Are you in Korea now?

Ben Gwynne said...

sure am, didnt you read the title of my blog :)

let me know if you are here or if you have your own blog..can always email if you have questions


thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

ok, thanks!
I'm gonna e-mail to u soon.

good night :)

Anonymous said...

Well I'm glad I read this now, because the first person I tipped was the cab driver who picked me up from the airport when I arrived! Flying start!

Ben Gwynne said...

Rookie mistake. He saw your luggage and took advantage because (whoever you are anonymous) are a first timer here. With no luggage, he'd have given it back to you and thought you were just making a mistake. He'll be telling that story to his friends.

Zhenya said...

That was really interesting to read :) thanks! I was looking for funny facts about South Korea for my presentation. Your post helped a lot!

Anonymous said...

Nice to know that Koreans are honest enough to give you back your change then? LMAO

Kabali Michael said...

Coughing and spitting are two things i hate yet im not sure i can remember to cover my mouth when i use a chop stick..but still thanks ben.
Nice to know this.