Korea is a homogeneous country with a fast-growing expat community. However, despite the growth in expat, Korean market still largely caters to Korean markets thus a lot of expats have a hard time settling in the country. I’ve been in Korea for almost eight months, but the struggle is real. Below is list of people who are likely to experience difficulties living in South Korea:
- People Cannot speak or read Korean
The Korean government spends a lot of money in English teachers to teach Koreans how to speak English, but you’d never tell. Shopping, asking for directions, ordering in at a restaurant having simple conversations, all of these are hard if you don’t know any Korean. The funniest thing is when you see things with English names or headings, but everything is in Korean.
- Ladies with Big Bust
Since living in Korea, I find the topic of speaking about boobs suddenly really easy ( the story for another day). Korean women typically have small breasts and as expected Korean shops sell small bras. So if you’re a person size 30s to 40s with double D, well you have to make online shopping your best friend.
Same as the above, there aren’t a lot of tall people in South Korea, so if your height is above Korean average, well you’re better off shopping for shorts instead of pants.
- Long and wide feet
I wear a size 6, which is the average size of most women in South Africa. So, my biggest problem was shops running out of my shoe size, and now my problem is finding shoes, especially heels, that fit. My feet aren’t that long, so I do not struggle a lot, but people with longer feet have to either bring enough shoes from back home or
- Chubby or “big-boned.”
If you’re a curvy woman or a big-boned guy, then you will struggle to find fitting clothes in Korea. The clothing stores have small sizes, and anyone (even Koreans) bigger than average has to seek clothes from somewhere else.
- Mac Users
Coming to Korea? You’re better off with windows, or you will struggle. You can’t use Korean online banking websites on a Mac. I also bought a printer, despite my Mac being able to recognize the printer, I still can’t print from it and can only print from my windows PC.
- Dark skinned
I’ve already mentioned this on one of my previous posts; If you’re coming to Korea and you’re brown, you better stock up on those skin products because you won’t find them anywhere. Koreans sell products for light skin and for people who want to “lighten” their skin. So finding products, especially make-up products for dark skin is like searching for a needle in a haystack.
- Ladies with Afro/dreads
I thought hair salons back in South Africa were expensive until I came to South Korea and paid up to ten times that price. Some common products are not hard to find in salons and online shops but having an Afro is so expensive, from hair products to braids, sometimes I just want to cut it all off and save myself some cash, but then I worry that people will think I’m sick if I have a bald head.
- Don’t like rice
My Facebook friends have heard me complain about eating rice so many times that they probably just roll their eyes every time they see the word rice on my statuses. Honestly, I’ve never eaten so much rice in my life, so much that when I get back home, I won’t eat rice, chicken or pork. They are everywhere and in every meal.
Korean’s are the bluntest people I’ve met. They won’t hesitate to tell you what they think about you and your looks. I went on a date, and the guy told me to eat because I’m too skinny. At the same time, I’ve heard stories of people being told to lose weight. I also made the mistake of saying I’m single, which resulted in multiple setups on the spot. I’ve just laughed off everything otherwise those are things that could have easily annoyed or offended me.
Have you been to/ are in Korea and can relate to the above? If not Korea, what countries have you been where foreigners likely to experience similar problems?