Today’s guest post is the first one of 2016 and a super interesting piece written by my blogger friend Lena who writes about her passion “China” on her own blog. She also talks about interesting cultural issues and China facts on her YouTube channel. Last year, she traveled around Asia and when she was in Korea, she noticed some interesting differences between Koreans and Chinese.
“The first time I went to Asia, I went straight to China. I had no idea what to expect and after staying in China for eight months, I had no intend to leave again.
However, I wasn’t interested in other Asian countries and couldn’t see why I should visit when China already gave me such a magical feeling. At some point during my next seven trips to China, I came to the conclusion that it was time to move around Asia to see China’s neighbors and I haven’t regretted this for a single moment.
My first destination were Malaysia and Singapore where I was surprised to see Chinese people looking me in the eye on the street without staring, they politely said hello to me and one senior citizen even borrowed me money for the bus. I was stunned and speechless.
After these two countries, I went on to visit my friend in Korea. I was heading to Seoul with no expectations on my mind. I had been studying with many Koreans in China so I knew a thing or two about K-pop and Korean BBQ – but that was it. During my ten days in Seoul, I discovered all these funny and interesting differences between the Chinese and Korean people.
Let’s have a look at some of them here, shall we?
The first big difference of the capital’s people was the makeup. It looked like all Korean girls, both young and old, were wearing a lot of makeup. China is still developing this habit. In Korean restrooms at the metro stations, I would bump into girls patting powder on their already white cheeks and most girls were wearing lipstick. I loved it because I always out of place in China, so I put on my lipstick and perfectly blended in.
The second realization happened in the restroom as well (many things go down in there, I assume). They were all equipped with both soap and toilet paper. I was thrilled! This is a luxury in Chinese restrooms so the fact that I was provided with it in Korean public restrooms was just awesome (small things to make me happy, I know).
In China, the iPhone is a luxury object. This phone is like a symbol of having a lot of money so even people who work low-paid jobs save money for months before to be able to purchase the newest model. This means that a big percentage, especially in Beijing, owns an iPhone. When in Seoul, I mostly saw Koreans using phones of their own brand Samsung. I thought this was a nice way to support their own economy. I’m not sure if that’s what young people think when they purchase a phone but yeah, go national companies!
Local Music Scene
When it comes to Chinese music, I’m just not a crazy fan. I do like some of it but the most popular songs are usually very similar: super romantic and slow. When I arrived in Seoul’s Hongdae area (university area), the K-pop music was filling the streets. There were groups of young people dancing and the atmosphere was super fun. I’ve got to say that I do now understand why K-pop is such a big phenomenon all over the world.
Other differences between Seoul and Beijing was the weather of course. The pollution in Seoul is minimal whereas it’s usually at a dangerous level in Beijing. I also loved how ‘small’ Seoul is because it was much easier to get from one end to the other on the metro line or by bus.
Money, Money, Money
But then there is the pricing of the two cities. Beijing is getting more expensive each day but comparing the two, Seoul is still more expensive. Taking the bus and metro around Beijing is the cheapest thing you can do whereas I had to top up on my Korean metro card all the time.
I enjoyed the Korean food in Seoul but I have problems dealing with spicy dishes so in the end I prefer the Beijing dumplings. It seems like most of the things in Seoul was made of Kimchi (fermented, spicy cabbage), which scares me a bit. Apart from that, I enjoyed the Korean Kimbap rolls (made of rice and vegetables wrapped in dried seaweed). Actually, I think I ate those almost every day. It was so convenient to get them from 7-Eleven and take them with me.
I want to go back!
Honestly, during my time in Seoul, I really did consider the fact that I could go back there and find work there. But when I thought about it, I felt disloyal to China, my one and only. Anyway, who knows how the future will look like.”
Lena chose “Lingling” as her middle name due to her big love for China. She’s a Danish 23 year old, who fell in love with China five years ago.
Since then, the country and she have been on a roller coaster ride: sometimes hating each other – but she forgave and forgot the bad times. She tends to go back to China, no matter what situation she’s being put into.
Lena is studying communication in Denmark at this moment while dreaming of going back to China.