Culture Shock in Korea

By Luke Martin (

Initially I was not even bothered by these because I adapt myself well with different culture, but when I was in Korea long enough I realized that this need to be addressed because we are different! ^^

  1. Korean eat spicy food - I was a bit surprised to know that Korean eat spicy food at first. Knowing that their neighbour, the Japanese dislike spicy stuff and their food are somewhat bland. However, I fell in love with Korean delicacies the moment I tried Kimchi. Thank goodness that it was spicy. I can't live without spicy food.
  2. Korean like to be fairer and fairer - When the white prefer to look tanned, the Korean prefer to be fairer and fairer. Just look at their makeup products, they have a lot of whitening cremes and emulsions. Aren't they already fair?
  3. Mini skirt in winter - When I walked along the Myeongdong streets with Tut and Hanim; we were dumbfounded when we found girls donning high heels wearing really short and skimpy mini skirt on WINTER!! Isn't that crazy? Anyway..they have their boyfriends to hug them, not a big problem ehehe.
  4. Shower only before sleep - Maybe this was influenced by the weather. It's not their norm to shower many times in a day like in the humid and warm Malaysia. As my Korean friend explained, before they sleep they must clean themselves. The next day, they just wake up and make up..heheh. 
  5. Eat dogs and larvae - experience? I stayed with a friend in Yeoju, they offered me meat. I told them that I don't eat meat in Korea. They said I was missing out because the meat they ate was special? How special? The meat could give them extra energy. It was DOG's meat and I had no reaction. I couldn't express myself. Not a single word coming out from my mouth. I pity the doggie you see. How can they do that to a cute and playful doggie? Another one is sundae, but was not surprised on this one because Sarawakian also eat this slimy, whitish larvae. But the one in Korea was so stinky but I still gathered my courage to try it. It tasted like smoky wood. Ack!
  6. Change towel everyday - When Mi Hyeon visited my hometown, she was given a huge towel to use for about a week. The look on her face at that moment was unreadable. I asked her why? She said she needs to change towel everyday. In Santisuk, I did that because the towel was small about the size for wiping your sweat (like the towel in Jjimjilbang, if you watch Korean drama). Furthermore, they always wash the towel in boiling water. Talk about being hygiene!!
  7. Unreadable weather - The weather was crazy. Don't ever forget to bring your jumper if you are in spring or autumn. Nearing the end of autumn, just bring your winter jacket. You will not regret it. The harsh wind in autumn changes the weather into winter-like weather.
  8. Wear socks all the time - Korean house use floor-warming method to warm the whole house during winter. During spring the floor is still warm but weather was not so. Due to that, I decided not to wear the socks resulting to continous stares from the ahjummas visiting Santisuk. Aigoo..I felt naked for a while; without socks I mean. ^^ 
  9. Elders eat first - Wait! Hold your chopsticks! If the elderly or the eldest in the family doesn't start eating, chances are you can't eat yours too. Not yet. Korean adheres much to Confucius teaching. Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (Kǒng Fūzǐ, or K'ung-fu-tzu, lit. "Master Kong", 551–478 BC). It is a complex system of moral, social, political, philosophical, and quasi-religious thought that has had tremendous influence on the culture and history of East Asia. It might be considered a state religion of some East Asian countries, because of governmental promotion of Confucian philosophies.Source: Wikipedia
  10. Don't say bye when they end phones conversation - This baffled me a lot when I called my Korean friends and I thought I was still in the conversation but they thought otherwise. Normally, they will end it with 'Ye' or 'Ne'

Why culture shock existed?

How to prevent culture shock?
Check out this interesting read about culture shock in Korea here.

What about you? Any culture shock experience when you travelled overseas? Share with me! ^^