Categorized | Expat Life, Korea

Random Observations

I have been in Korea for just over 4 months, and in that time a few things have stood out.  These are just a few of my observations and they do not represent everyone here.  I do suspect they represent a great many however.

First of all, there is a great mixture of rudeness and kindness here in SK.  Not everyone watches where they walk on the street.  People are constantly bumping into one another, and there is never even a hint of an “excuse me” or “sorry”.   Yet the same people who may have pushed you out of the way on the bus will be the same people who try to help you when you are ordering something or trying to box up things to ship home.  It’s actually quite amazing, but overall things we would think of back home as rude are everyday occurrences here in SK.

Discrimination is rampant here.  The kids I teach can be racist.  Anyone that is Chinese is dirty and ugly.  Blacks, for the most part, are simply not wanted in SK.  Recently I did a lesson on beauty.  I took in pictures of men and women to see what they viewed as beautiful.  They are able to distinguish between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean people quite well and almost always they will tell you the Chinese person is dirty and ugly, no matter how beautiful.  They tend to scream in horror when questioned about a black person.  It’s really sad but racism is quite strong here, and I am talking about the 11-13 year-olds so its not going away anytime soon.

And everyone here wants to be white.  There are a lot of products sold that are whitening such as lotions.  In their culture white is beautiful, where as in the west everyone wants to be tan.  I have not had the chance to see it yet, but I hear people go to the beach and cover up so they do not tan.  Add to this their vanity which is unbelieveable.  A Korean woman can not walk past a reflective surface without stopping for a second to check out her makeup or hair.  The men really aren’t any better.  Things here are about appearance more than substance.  It’s about how you look and who you are with.  This even extends to the workplace at times as the foreigners are used as marketing tools quite a bit.

Overall the people here have been very gracious and kind, but I do tend to notice some differences the longer I am here.  That’s not to say there aren’t people like this back home because they are there.  I still love it here and don’t want to leave anytime soon.

I am getting excited about baseball season, and I hope to unveil my new site dedicated to my baseball travels very soon.

‘Till Next Time,


About Eric Bynum
I taught ESL for three years in South Korea and now I am looking to set out on a new journey after just finishing my teaching certification in the US. I hope to continue teaching and traveling and you can follow his journeys here.

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2 Responses to “Random Observations”

  1. Heather says:

    Wow it’s so similar in the Indian subcontinent, not necessarily about the Chinese, but about the desire to be white.

  2. This is good information to know, even as unfortunate as it may be. I was always told that all of the whitening products is because the paler the prettier. They not only protect themselves from the sun because of tanning, but mostly because of sun damage. Asians have more melanin than Caucasians of course, but not enough to protect their skin as is for hispanics and blacks. I think that there is something else in their skin that makes their skin even easier to damage and be prone to skin cancer.
    Thanks for the insight. Continue to enjoy your journey through this life.


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