11 Interesting Facts About South Korea
South Korea is like any other country unique all for its own reasons, I have come to learn some pretty interesting facts about this country of Soju, K-Pop, K-drama and plastic surgery. You will probably know a few on this list and other maybe not. From the everlasting tension of the two Koreas to the infamous superstition of “fan death”. There is more of those interesting facts out there, but for now these are the ones that come to mind. These ones are more for newbies and people who are interested in South Korea but still have yet to visit the country. Veteran expats will already be past what ever is on this list.
- South Korea is technically still at war with North Korea.
North Korea and South Korea never officially signed a ceasefire and are is considered to be a in a state of conflict to this this day. There is even days where they provoke each other in some way or other.
- Crowded, crowded, crowded….
With a population of over 48 million and a land area of 38,000 sq. miles, South Korea has one of the highest population densities in the world at over 1,200 people per sq. mile. In contrast, the United States has a population density of 79 people per sq. mile. It is literally packed with people.
- South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
According to Wikipedia, South Korea has the second highest suicide rate behind only Lithuania. Out of 100,000 people per year, South Korea’s rate was 31.2 in 2010. The hardcore culture of all work and no play has created an extreme. Either people binge drink or become really depressed. Some even refer to South Korea as “Hell Joseon”.
- South Korea has one of the top economies of the world and is a member of the G-20.
What makes this fact so interesting is how quickly Korea has turned around its economy. Following the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world Now 50 years later, it is one of the strongest. Though these days the job market has been reported to become one highly competitive places for college graduates.
- Speaking of crowded, Seoul is the second largest city in the world.
According to the World Atlas, Seoul has a population of 9,980,000, making it the world’s second largest city behind Tokyo. Just try to use the public transportation at rush hour and you will know exactly the weight of these words.
- Tipping is generally not necessary in Korea.
In your own home country, tipping might be customary but in Korea, there is no need to tip. You can tip the taxi driver out of kindness or thanks for good service, but it is never expected.
- The number ‘4’ is considered to be unlucky.
This is actually true in many parts of Asia because the number four is a homonym with the word death in Chinese. For this reason, many countries in Asia consider the number to be extremely unlucky. So much so that many hotels skip the fourth floor. Even in our age, this superstition still has its believers.
- It is legal to drink in public!
It may be shock for you to see people carrying open containers on the street, in parks, and pretty much everywhere. Koreans like to find a any kind of reason to have a drink and even just sitting around in the park is enough of a reason to enjoy a drink.
9. The South Korean belief about “Fan Death”.
This is absolutely crazy and I don’t want to give it away here because I wouldn’t do it justice. Check out this website for the details. You will still hear people talk about this with the upmost seriousness. “Fan Death” is real!
10.Personalities based on blood type.
I can’t believe how many times I have been asked my blood type in Korea. Instead of horoscopes and the Zodiac, Koreans use blood types to figure out a person’s personality. This one might confuse both you and the Korean person asking. You, who probably doesn’t know what your blood type is and the Korean person, who can’t understand why you don’t know your own blood type. Some conversation can die very quickly once this happens.
11. Age is counted differently.
In Korea, when you are born, you are considered to be one. On your first New Years, you are two years old. Then you go back to adding a year on the date of your birthday. So with this Korean style of counting, most Koreans are a year or two older than their Western age. And thanks to this, there is great confusion by Foreigners when they are asked their age, Should they tell them their actual age or Korean age? I for one, stopped telling Korean people my Korean age, and just decided to keep telling them my real age. Saves me from a lot of confusion.
So those are some simple but interesting facts that I discovered. There is obviously more crazy interesting facts out there that can make you go “wow” more but these ones on this list are meant to just make you say “woah” in a lighter tone. South Korea is fun, Maybe not on the same level of fun and interesting like Japan in my opinion but it is still up there for what is as a country.