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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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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