Cultural Observations: Taiwan & Korea

It is SO good to be back in Korea!!

As soon I ordered a berry smoothie in Korean at the Seoul Incheon Airport and paid for it with my Korean debit card, I knew I was home.

Here are some random observations from my trip to Taiwan:

Things Taiwan and Korea have in common:

  • Older Asian men hocking up spit balls and spitting them onto the sidewalk.
  • Many signs in English.
  • 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Cold Stone, Etude House (make up place), Subway, Baskin Robbins, all the usual fast food joints (McDonalds, Burger King, KFC).
  • Obsession with fancy Christmas decorations.
  • Really clean subways/metro rails.
  • Lots of bakeries and Japanese restaurants.
  • People strictly follow the “stand on the right, walk on the left” rule on the escalators in the subway.
  • Lots of people staring at me.

Things that are different in Korea from Taiwan:

  • Koreans bow a lot more.
  • In Korea, we have awesome ondol heating (floor heating). Last night, I was steeling myself to crawl into my freezing cold bed (which happens to be next to a window that doesn’t seal in the heat very well) when I thought, “What is the point of having a heated floor if you don’t use it at night when you are the coldest?” So I slept on the floor. And it was awesome.
  • Koreans are more obsessed with their smartphones.
  • Taiwan has bubble tea.
  • At the Taiwanese crosswalks, the green man on the screen actually walks! And then starts running when your time is almost up! (I miss that green walking man…)
  • Everything in Taiwan is cheaper, at least food and transportation.
  • In Korea, I can read and speak the language!

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After living in South Korea for over 7 years, Elizabeth is back in the States finding a new normal. In the tension of brokenness, resilience, and conviction, she chooses faith and depends on grace. She leans into empathy, curiosity, divine whispers, and childlike wonder.

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