By Lindsay Nash, owner/founder of Say Kimchi Recruiting
10. Kimchi Jjigae—I swear I have eaten this soup every night for about 6 months straight. It’s amazingly spicy and healthy and comes with the perfect side dish of rice.
9. Noraebangs—Singing rooms make for the most ridiculously fun nights in Korea. You pay by the hour to sing your heart out with your friends. It’s totally a different world than karaoke rooms back home. I hate to even write the word in the same paragraph, because it simply doesn’t compare.
8. Rice fields—the neon green of these fields in late summer simply stun. Not only are they the most beautiful backdrop to a rural bicycle ride or jog through the countryside, but you can also see Koreans hard at work in these fields, making their living. It’s quite a different scene than your typical city life.
7. The people—Koreans are by far some of the friendliest people on Earth. Since you are a foreigner in a homogenous country, you will be stopped on the street just so people can have a simple conversation with you in English. People will buy you dinner, offer you tea out of their thermos, help you find a bus stop, offer you their cell phone, and help you home.
6. Islands – Korea’s islands are out-of-this-world beautiful. If you ever need a quick weekend escape from the madness of city life and/or teacher life, grab a ferry to a nearby island and set up camp. You won’t be sorry.
5. Ajummas—These matriarchs of Korean society are a class of their own. While their name literally translates to old, married women, you will never think of them as anything other than ajummas with their permed hair, mismatched floral jumpsuits, big visors, and blunt, watch-out-of-my-way spirit.
4. Public transportation—Korea has some of the easiest, cheapest public transportation in the world. Whether it’s by bus, train, subway, or ferry, it’s easy as kimchi to get around this country.
3. The foreigner community – Just think—there are a lot of people just like you who wanted to see something beyond their own country and experience some adventure in Korea. It won’t take you long at all to find a set of friends here in Korea that will quickly become lifelong pals.
2. Public baths—For the equivalent of about $4, you can go to a public bath, or sauna—as they’re known as here, and soak in pools of green tea water, mineral water, hot water, ice water and more. It’s simply heaven. Most are open 24 hours so it’s a wonderful late-night experience if you want to shed some stress from your work day. But remember, no clothing allowed.
1. Raw octopus – Sounds scary, right? Eight tentacles writhing around on your plate, a spicy red or sesame sauce the only flavoring other than raw, real octopus. It’s simply delicious. Don’t miss the opportunity to feel the tentacles sucking to your mouth.