59 – Korea (conclusion)

Minuses

I cannot think of any real minuses, to be honest. Just a few recommendations:

  • Eating: Don’t go out for dinner too late outside of the capital. When you go later than 7.30 pm, you’re really pushing it. I have seen people being turned away because the kitchen finished all the food. Also, dining alone is something the Koreans are not accustomed to. Foreigners get away with it, of course, but locals (women especially) going out for a meal without company will be seen as some kind of social outcasts.  That also means that some of the local specialties are meant to be shared. Like the traditional barbecue, or multi-course set menus in some restaurants. They may tell you that they are not able to prepare such menu for one, which is of course utter bullshit, because if they can cater for three, they can very well cater for one, they just don’t know how.
  • Jjimjilbang etiquette: don’t stare at others, don’t shout and tie your hair (not really my problem). Some very traditional places may have problems with tattoos on display (not so strict as in Japan though).

Pluses

  • Four seasons. You can see everything. Sakuras blossoming in spring, leaves turning red in autumn; you can enjoy hot summer and you can ski in winter.
  • The landscape. Again, sandy beaches, high mountains, lush forests, rural countryside, hi-tech cities. Anything you crave for.
  • The food. Arguably the best food I’ve had so far in Asia. Spicy, but not too much, fresh, healthy. And the best thing: the sides come for free (although sometimes they can be silkworm larvae).
  • The people. Like the in China, English is not widely spoken away from the capital, BUT, unlike the Chinese, the locals are very nice and will always try to help you, even if they don’t understand a word of what you are saying. In fact Koreans are very endearing, generous, welcoming, curious about foreigners and keen to show you their culture, if you are interested.

For your convenience, 15 days in South Korea (Please note that by then I had no interest in rushing through the country in search of seeing everything. I picked fewer places (following the advice of the locals) and chose to see them properly in a relaxed way. I am also more interested in nature than in big cities, but some people may enjoy spending more time in Busan, for example. Also, whatever your plans in South Korea are, count an extra week if you want to visit Jeju Island – or so I’ve been told).

D1-4: Seoul (of which day four in the DMZ)

D5-6: Seoraksan National Park

D7-9: Gyeongju

D10-13: Tongyeong

D14: Busan

D15: transfer to Incheon and out of the country

 

 


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