Posted in Korea, Uncategorized

Racism in Korea?

Even before coming to Korea, I have seen so many videos and blog posts of people saying that they are victims of racism in Korea. I am going to address this matter. 

People should not confuse curiosity and naivety with racism.

The thing that I noticed during both of my times in Korea, is that people stare. People stare at white people, people stare at Indian people, people stare at Black people. This is reality. I get stared at in Hackney (London)! One of the most culturally diverse towns in the world, so of course people will stare in a country that has only recently (in the past 5-10 years) seen an increase in foreigners. I have actually received more racism from Americans than Koreans since living here (But that’ll have to be another post).

I believe that instead of the colour of your skin, it is your attitude and the way that you present yourself which depends on the type of attention you get. This could easily explain several points that people make when talking about racism in Korea. 

1. Taxi drivers driving off – I actually have never experienced this in Korea. But there can be a possible reason why it could happen. If you see the light in the taxi window flashing, it is hired already. Only when the writing is a solid red colour is the taxi free. 

2. Taxi drivers refusing to take you – I have seen this happen but it is because the foreigner simply jumped in the taxi or popped their head into the window and stated the place where they wanted to go. I understand the taxi driver at this point. It is common decency to say hello or excuse me to a person before talking to them. I’m pretty sure all foreigners here know how to say ‘hello’ in Korean.

3. Not respecting the countries culture – Now, this is the one point which has to be stressed the most. You are in a foreign country. I know, I always hear American and sometimes British people say ‘I’m not a foreigner’. For some reason it has become hard for some western people to accept that, we are in fact foreigners in Korea and everywhere around the world apart from our home countries! When you are in a foreign country, you must slightly adapt to the way things run. 
I’m not saying be fluent in Korean before you get here or change your personality so you fit in. Just be respectful. Before moving to another country to live, you should educate yourself a little bit in understanding how respect works in that country. Otherwise you have nobody to blame but yourself. This sounds a bit harsh but you need to get off your high horse. 

4. Clothing culture – Now I know this is also one that foreigners won’t understand. One way which I can explain it is, would you go to Saudi Arabia wearing a Bikini? If you answer yes, good luck. You won’t even get past immigration no matter where you are from or who you are.
In Korea, it is simple. Wear the shortest skirt you want but do not show cleavage. If you aren’t slim, then unfortunately no matter what you wear you will probably be stared at. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It is known that Koreans (especially women) have slim frames. People who stare are merely curious and maybe a little judgmental but it is not about race. Korea is known as a country which considers appearance a lot. Appearance, not race.

5. Smile!! If somebody is staring at you, don’t give them a full teeth smile, just smile a little. Chances are they will smile back at you. 

6. Live your life without caring about what other people think. When I first came to Korea, I didn’t notice people staring at me but my friends would notice it. Even this time, I wouldn’t notice but people who I am with would notice. I know they are staring at me, but I don’t care so it doesn’t bother me.
So, listen to your music, talk to your friend, sit on your phone, stare in to space, read a book. Do anything to take your attention off people staring at you. 

The most important thing that I want people to take out of this blog post is that YOU are making it a big deal. You are assuming that Koreans are being racist. Change your attitude and the reasons why you think people are staring at you. I am almost certain that then you will enjoy your time here more. I have received nothing but kindness from Koreans since I have been in Korea. I am sure that this is because I respect the Korean culture, I give out positive energy and I do not focus on negatives. 

So, think positive people!! 

If you have a different opinion to mine or if you agree with what I have said in this blog post, please let me know by commenting below ^^

Posted in Korea, Uncategorized

Sewol Memorial

During the long holiday in South Korea, I decided to go on a little road trip. In the beginning my road trip was to the two other major cities in South Korea; Busan & Daegu.

My time in Busan was interesting! The first day went really well and my friend and I stayed out until 7am! It was so funny! 2nd day was interesting too. We went to the famous Haeundae beach. It was lovely. But after this, it was impossible to find a hotel. We walked around for ages ad couldn’t find anywhere so we stayed out until about 4am and then went to a DVD room so we could sleep!! hahaha!

The next day we made our way to Daegu. This was my 2nd time in Daegu and it was great! I love Daegu. My friend who lives in Daegu took me around in his car and I stayed at a kind of resort. It reminded me of a place where people would go camping. The next day, which is the part of my trip which is the focus of this article, my friend and I drove from Daegu to Ansan. Firstly, the drive was so interesting! It was great for my friend and I to have bonding time, but we also saw a rain deer! It was the first time in my life to see one and I was so fascinated! It was on the back of a truck and it was massive!!

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Ansan has become a city which is known worldwide and not for the fact that it is a relatively new city. As I am sure you are aware, on April the 14th, Sewol ferry sunk. On the ferry were over 300 middle school students from a school in Ansan. In Ansan a memorial ceremony has been held for all of the unfortunate people who were unable to escape from the ferry before it sunk. Although a lot of things could have been done to rescue them and I am aware of it, I don’t want to write a post of all the things which could have been done differently because it has happened now and unfortunately we can’t go back in time. When my friend and I arrived in Ansan, I did not expect to see such a big memorial service. I knew the number of people who died and I knew that this event has devastated not only Korea but the whole world.

In the park next to the school, a big section was devoted to the memorial. Many yellow ribbons have been attached to trees and police strips. After walking past this, there were walls covered in messages from the hundreds of people who have visited the memorial. There were many messages in different languages and the messages in English were very touching. As well as messages there were also drawings. These drawings were touching as they were images showing what people hoped would happen. The two most creative ones were one of a whale spraying the ferry up right and another was of a hand holding up the ship. (See below)

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After reading messages, we went inside a massive tent which had been set up in the middle of the memorial section. Inside this tent was overwhelming. Although I knew the number of students who had passed away, it was still shocking to see the pictures of each person who could not make it out.
Each visitor was given a single flower. We lined up, bowed and gave a minutes silence for the victims. We then stepped forward to lay the flowers down. This experience was emotional beyond my expectations.

I had previously cried because of this story but everyone in the tent chocked on their tears. Hearing the number of people who died was upsetting but seeing their faces and realising just how young these students were, was painfully saddening.
I am very glad that I went to the memorial and I would recommend everyone who is in Korea to go to pay respects to the victims of this horrifying accident.

Posted in Korea

Finally!

Blog. I am so sorry I have neglected you for a long time. My life has been so busy and I didn’t even have much time to breathe let alone blog.

However, all is about to change as I am posting this from…. Seoul!!

I am finally back!

I managed to get a lovely job and I am going to be based in the centre of Seoul! It hasn’t been an easy road, but things seem to be picking up nicely!

I left London on the 23rd of February, landed here on the 24th. I started my orientation and met so many amazing people already. I also managed to meet up with a few of my friends. I have to make a visa run to Japan on Monday, and then I start working officially!

I just can’t wait to settle in my new apartment and start to get a routine together. I really want to explore Korea this time round. Last time I did no tourist activities. But now that I am here for at least one year, bring on the new adventures.

With new adventures come more blog posts. I have my lovely camera with me so I will be able to not only tell you guys about great things, but show you too.

=D

But now I need to go and fight off this jetlag. >.<

See you soon!

Posted in Korea, Reviews

Review: The Greatest Shows on Earth (South Korea)

Well! Last night Daisy Donovan’s TV programme, The Greatest Shows on Earth, was aired on Channel 4. This week her country of choice was South Korea.

Honestly, last night was the first time I had watched Daisy’s show and I am disappointed in myself because it was really interesting! Obviously I watched it because it had something to do with Korea, but I wish I had watched all the other episodes where she travels to different countries in the world. The Greatest Show on Earth is unique and has an outstanding idea which I would have never thought of.

Daisy Donovan visited Seoul and discovered 5 different TV shows which are popular in Korea. BJ King of Cookery Biryong (Afreeca TV), 무한도전 or “Infinite Challenge”, 이제 만나러 갑니다 or “Now on My Way to Meet You” & an e-Sport show, were the shows which Daisy discovered and analysed.

What really interested me was the show 이제 만나러 갑니다 (Now on my way to meet you) and the e-sport show. 이제 만나러 갑니다 grabbed my attention because I had no idea that such a show existed. Similarly I didn’t know there were e-Sport shows either. But Now on my way to meet you is so unique and is a show which can only exist in South Korea. 이제 만나러 갑니다 has been described by Daisy Donovan as the Korean equivalent to the UK’s Loose Women. However this show has more than what meets the eye.

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이제 만나러 갑니다 has a panel of North Korean defectors, known as ‘Defector Beauties’. All 15 women have escaped from North Korea and are now living in South Korea. The show has male celebrity guests who entertain and flirt with the Defector Beauties. But what gives this show a different kick is that, the defector beauties also discuss their stories and how life in North Korea was for them. As Daisy also mentioned, the show is clever because it makes you emotional as in the beginning, the defector beauties dance around and have fun. The show then takes a turn and becomes more serious. When Daisy was on the show, a male North Korean defector came on the show to share his story and with the hopes that his family which he was separated with would discover him and reunite. The show is unique to other shows in Korea and even around the world.

Although The Greatest Show on Earth was roughly and hour and a half, it was far too short! I enjoyed the programme as it covered a wide range of South Korean TV shows, but what the programme lacked was an understanding of the audience and a bit of information about funding and production. Either way, I was satisfied with the programme and I would love for there to be a continuation.

***** Five out of Five this time round!