Uniquely Korean

14 Small Differences Between Korea and the US

1. There is no Netflix. There is no Hulu. This means that I actually have to do my homework when I get back from class.


2. People in the music industry actually have to be talented. If you can’t dance, sing and/or rap, and be a public figure, you have almost zero chance of making it here in Korea

(I, unfortunately, still do not like Kpop, but I respect most of the people who do it… except for the girl groups that act like they’re 6 years old. WHAT ARE YOU DOING.)



3. When you’re born, you’re considered 1 (first calendar year), so you add a year onto your American age. So I’m 19 in the states, but here I’m 20 in ‘Korean age’. That concept tends to confuse people.


4. People think that “oh, you look so young!” is a compliment, even when you’re in your teens. In the states (up to a certain age) you’d usually rather hear that you look old for your age.

“Is it my hair?”: 


5. There is no tipping. Not cabs, not waiters, not manicurists. No tips.


6. Cabs run by distance and time, so they’re much cheaper unless they’re driving super slowly (which they usually don’t).


7. Waiters will only come when you call them, unlike those pesky servers in the states who NEVER LEAVE YOU ALONE WHEN YOU JUST WANNA EAT.


8. There are no open container laws. 

It is common to go to a convenience store (most of which are open 24/7) buy beer or soju, then drink it outside at the provided tables.


9. Couples are SUPER coupley. I’m talking matching shirts and hands glued together (except when taking selfies on public transportation).


10. It’s pretty hard to find a trashcan. Despite this, there is not much litter. Maybe these things are running around but we just can’t see them:


11. There is a strict dress code at most clubs

Girls need to be in heels or closed toed shoes, and should be in a skirt, dress, or in some cases nice shorts will work. Guys MUST wear pants. If you’re not up to scratch, you won’t be allowed in.


12. Breakfasts aren’t always breakfast-y. For breakfast you might have a typical lunch dish, complete with kimchi and lots o’ garlic. 

13. You can do some cheap, great shopping in subway stations.

The 5,000won racks are my favorite. Racks of great clothes for just over $4. Shopping is annoying and stressful so this one-stop-shop thing works just fine for me. 


14. There’s usually no dairy in the food.

In the states, a lot of food has cheese or other dairy products in it. Here, you won’t really find that unless you go get ice cream or go to a fusion restaurant: in our cafeteria, you can get bulgogi gratin, which is Korean marinated beef COVERED IN CHEESE. But other than that, Koreans are wary of the dairy and aren’t at ease with the cheese (see what I did there?)


There are obviously many things that are different between here and the states, but these are some of the finer details that I find amusing or interesting. I have a billion more of these, so be prepared for another one at some point!

(The image for this post on the home page is of a delicious bulgogi burger from McDonalds. If that’s not a manifestation of Korea-meets-America, I don’t know what is).


One thought on “14 Small Differences Between Korea and the US

  1. Pingback: #YOYO | 36-Hour Days

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