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16 Facts About South Korea That Foreigners Have Never Heard Of

Every tourist knows that South Korea is like a whole other planet. And while some things are obvious right away (for example, some exotic foods), others are things are known only by those who have experienced living there. This includes beauty standards, how children are raised, and college educations.

We at Bright Side dove into the Korean lifestyle and found curious habits, rules, and traditions and decided to tell you about them.

1. Korean women sit with blankets on their knees.

Many Korean women put blankets on their laps, even when it is warm inside and outside. K-pop idols, TV show guests, and regular people use them in cafes, restaurants, and other public places. They do it in order to not reveal anything when wearing a mini skirt and also protect their private space because a blanket is a symbol of modesty.

2. Women cover their mouths when laughing.

In the past, girls were taught that laughing was not very feminine. When something made them laugh, they would look away or try to conceal their smiles (now, they only do the latter). If you see a Korean woman covering her mouth, she is probably laughing and not yawning.

3. V- and S-lines are valued in women’s bodies

A V-line is a pointy chin. It is believed to be the best for both girls and guys because it makes them look more elegant. An S-line is the outline of the female body, a more slender version of the hourglass body shape. If a Korean man says that you have beautiful V- and S-lines, it means he likes your chin and your body.

4. All drivers have to do alcohol tests.

In the evening, often on Fridays and Saturdays, Korean policemen block one side of the road and check all the drivers, except taxi drivers. When you see a patrol car, you have to pull over, open the window, and do an alcohol test.

Fines are paid depending on the concentration of alcohol in your blood: 0.05-0.10 per mille is $1,400—$2,800. They say that you can drink only 400 milliliters of beer or a shot of soju.

5. You don’t have to stay inside during the rainy season.

The monsoon season in Korea starts in July-August. Sometimes there are floods during this period. But cars still drive and people walk knee-deep in water, but under an umbrella. The worst thing that can happen to a Korean woman is if she gets her hair wet.

6. They have very good food in their hospitals.

Every day, in regular Korean hospitals, they serve different foods, and clam soups are accompanied by traditional appetizers, such as marinated rice, vegetable pancakes, and kimchi.

7. The academic year starts in March and students fight for the right to be in lectures.

Before the start of college, students are required to do a special training with the faculty. In 2 days and one night, the first-years have to learn the history of the college and get to know each other. But according to the students, this is just a cover-up: older students are actually teaching the younger generation how to have fun and still be able to study the next morning.

Koreans choose the courses they want to study and make their own schedules. The number of seats in lectures is limited: there can be from 60 to 100 people competing at the same time for one seat. But the most popular classes are filled in a matter of minutes, so you have to be very fast. You can sign up for these classes on campus or in a computer club where you can eat, study, and play.

8. They sell K-pop idols instead of Barbie dolls

K-pop singers are so popular you can buy a small replica of them in any store. Above you can see the members of the band BTS.

9. Thrifty tourists can stay in a sauna

Korean public baths or saunas are called jjimjilbang. They are open 24/7 and it costs only $7 to come in. This is why tourists who come to the country for a short period of time try to stay in the saunas and the locals come here to restore their energy after work or after a big party. At the entrance, they put on yangmeori, or sheep’s head, which are towels that you put on your head. Inside, there are also couches and playrooms for children.

10. Koreans don’t talk to the opposite sex if they are in a relationship.

In South Korea, most people don’t believe that men and women can be friends. So, when a guy and a girl start a relationship, they can no longer see their friends of the opposite sex.

11. They celebrate the day of love on November 11.

The holiday is called Pepero Day — it was named after sweet breadsticks with different icing and they celebrate it on 11/11. Lovers give each other these sticks and play: they bite the stick from different ends and the one who has a little part left wins. These gifts can not only be given to loved ones, but also to friends and relatives.

It is believed that the holiday was made up by Lotte, which produces these sticks. Anyway, this holiday has completely become part of the culture.

12. Korean men won’t date a girl that is not as thin as he is.

In South Korea, you are not going to see a couple where a girl is taller or bigger than a guy. There is a set of very strict rules when choosing a partner. No matter how good of a person a potential partner is, a guy won’t date a girl that is heavier than him. Girls don’t date guys that are shorter than them. Besides, age and blood type also matter.

13. Koreans love to keep their hands warm.

If you go to a Korean hairdresser, a beauty salon, or some other place, you will probably be offered a hand warmer. Even if there is a good heating system in the building.

14. In schools, they have a parent patrol.

“School parent police”

Every day, 2 parents inspect the schools: they watch the educational process and make sure everything is alright. Also, parents taste the school food in order to see how well their children are fed. When fathers and mothers patrol the school, they put on the uniform, and they have a schedule of things to do and when they should do them. There is also a special room where they can rest during their break.

15. Korean parents always follow their children.

Very often, in Korean families, the fathers work and the mothers raise the children: and they dive into this process so deeply that they lose their own lives and personalities. It doesn’t matter what their child does, the mother always has to take an active part in everything.

blogger that has been living in Korea for a long time tells this story, “Before, my daughter used to go to the mountains alone and now I have to go with her everywhere.” She was asked recently, “Is it true that you are not adopted?” Koreans think that a real mother can’t be that indifferent to her children and let them go out on their own." After this, the blogger had to accompany her daughter everywhere, even to the shooting of the show that her daughter starred in.

16. They don’t need total silence and darkness to sleep.

Korean children are not put in beds in perfectly quiet and dark rooms. They are taught to fall asleep in light and noisy rooms, because this is a way to make their nervous system stronger. When they become adults, they can restore some energy, even if they only have a little bit of time, like for example when they are on a train or a bus. Koreans can sleep pretty much anywhere, in any conditions.

Which of these things would you like to have in your country?

Preview photo credit ARIRANG K-POP / YouTube
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