Jon Huer, a columnist in Korea Times, is writing a series of the Ten Most Wonderful Things About Korea. I don’t really like his writing style but the topic is a good one. This list is more about the wonderful things about life in Korea.
1. Civil Service/Customer Service – Coming from a country where the civil servants make you feel you’re indebted to them, civil service in Korea is topnotch. I’ve never had to spend hours lining up to get some paper work done in a government office except when I applied for my citizenship at the Immigration Office in Mokdong. It usually takes me about 2 minutes to get a Family Register at the “Dong Office” and the three times I applied for a passport, I was only at the District Office (in Jongro) for half an hour, including the time I had my picture taken. The civil servants are polite too.
2. Broadband Internet – We’ve been with Hanaro for almost six years and I’d say that we don’t have any plan of switching ISPs even with the tempting gifts that comes with a new subscription to another ISP. I like that I don’t have to wait for a long time to load a 10MB web page overloaded with heavy JPEGs.
3. Transportation – My father-in-law has been asking me to get a license but I continuously refuse because I don’t see the need to drive living in Seoul. I like that with a transportation card (CC or T-money/U-Pass), I don’t need to pay extra when I transfer from subway to bus, bus to subway, or bus to bus. Isn’t that wonderful?
4. Online shopping – I’ve practically done all my shopping in Korea online. I can do this anytime of the day with no salesperson breathing down my neck. I hate to be salestalked and I hate it more asking the salesperson to leave. Shipping is usually free for purchases of 25,000 won and delivery is just a day or two after placing an order. I’m a member of almost every online shopping mall – Auction, 11st, G-market, Lotte (I like that they deliver even on a weekend!), Shinsegae, CJ Mall and of course, dnShop.
5. Delivery – Where else can you order food at 2AM and have it delivered? We once did this while watching the Korean soccer team play at 3AM during the Athens Olympics. My husband and I craved for crab stew and at 2AM we called the restaurant for a delivery. Some food establishments would require a minimum order (like 7,000 won at Bareun Saenghwal) but the Chinese restaurant near us would deliver even when I just ordered a 3,000 won jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles).
6. Freebies – Granted that a lot of the things here in Korea are expensive, I really appreciate it when I get freebies or free samples. I like trying new stuff and buying a bottle of a new shampoo or cosmetics would be really costly if not for the free samples that you can get.
7. Street Food – I’m a street foodie even in the Philippines. However, I try not to eat on the streets back home but instead would ask my sister to buy fish balls or banana-que from the market. Here, my husband and I would go to Jongro on weekends to have our favorite tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), ojingo twigim (battered and fried squid) and odaeng (fish cake). While I buy ddalk kkochi (chicken barbeque) and ho ddeok (Chinese pancake) near a seller in Dongdaemun.
8. Museums, Parks, Palaces – I would’ve listed this as my number 1 since I’m a museum goer. However, I’ve been to Washington DC and New York City and the museums there (and of course Central Park) are just superb compared to what we have in Seoul. Anyway, I really like that instead of going to shopping malls my family would spend a weekend in a park or a museum. Our favorite is the Children’s Grand Park for the free entrance and its proximity to our place.
9. Old People – You read it right. Sometimes I like them. Sometimes I’m apathetic to them. A few times I hate them! LOL… Eversince I had my child, I began to appreciate these most-often-than not nosy people. They are the ones who’ve offered their seats to me in a crowded subway train or bus. Sometimes they would offer to help you carry things or even entertain your toddler. The ajummas at my apartment have even offered to give me free Korean lessons.
10. Recycling – I used to recycle and reuse things when I was in the Philippines. I could’nt be happier knowing that it’s a must to recycle in Korea.