Seoul Beijing

Seoul – Beijing: Difference Check!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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. 

Seoul Beijing

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?

Physical Appearance

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.

Korean girls wearing hanbok

Korean girls wearing hanbok

Public Restrooms

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).

Cellphone Brands

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.

Air Pollution

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.

Food Culture

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 -LingLing- (1)




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.






Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.


  1. Timo on January 18, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    The bathrooms are really the biggest difference I think 😀
    In China it is a scary experience to go to a public bathroom,I still get nightmare from it…
    I can’t say whether Koreans just support their economy or they really go for what is top tier on the market. Sure the IPhone is some status symbol for many many people but in the end it just can’t compete any longer with Samsung, Sony, HTC etc–

  2. Megan Indoe on January 20, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Omg the bathrooms in Korea are one of my least favorite things! I can’t imagine what I will feel like in China! ? I can’t imagine what the pollution is like either! One day I will see for myself since we really would love to go. I had no idea Bejiing was cheaper than Seoul either. thanks for sharing both experiences

  3. Jaclyn Chua-Park on January 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Cute post and I can sooo relate! She forgot another thing about the bathrooms though—it’s much cleaner here in Seoul! And most have warm water available. I remember the faucet water being freaking cold no matter which mall I went to. There’s also the heating. Koreans use floor heating while Chinese use the ones that kinda looks like pipes where hot water goes through. We loved it so much we brought one back home to Seoul!
    I have to admit though that I also miss China. But now that I have kids… China might not be the best place to be for a lot of reasons, pollution being number one on that list.

  4. Wendy Flor on January 21, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    First thing that made the impression on me when I first lived here in Seoul was the toilet. Clean and with tissue supply. Almost always. But Seoul’s palaces are super small compared to Beijing’s tourist destinations. I got lost exploring the Forbidden City because it’s huge!

  5. Laura Nalin on January 24, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Great comparison post! I felt sad reading the bit about the iPhone. I realized how lucky I am to be able to afford things like that and I never view it as a status symbol, it’s just my preferred brand of technology. At any rate, the differences are interesting! I really like the local music scene here. Though I’m not a fan of Kpop, I think there are tons of great acoustic and indie artists as well as bands that play at some of my favorite hangouts! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Bricycle on January 25, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Interesting post! Seoul and Beijing are both awesome places, and they have their differences. Hopefully things can improve in the air quality and public bathrooms (squatters ain’t that fun) in China, but I’ll still be loving all that there is in the country. 🙂

  7. Eric Hevesy on January 26, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Interesting post! Having lived in both China and Korea, I’d say these comparisons are spot on. I’d like to add one which I felt is a big difference – staring! Many people stare at foreigners in China and hold the stare for ages. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. However, in Korea, people don’t look twice at foreigners. I much prefer Korea in that sense. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Rafiqua Israel on January 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    This was a very interesting post, and having visited both Seoul & Beijing I found these things to be spot on! I hated carrying toilet paper all over China. I also noticed that so many people in China don’t care much about their apperance, in both fashion and makeup.

  9. Izzy Pulido on January 28, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I think its always so important to note similarities and differences between cultures, especially among the metropolises of Asia where people often are quick to think they all are basically the same. Lena, I’m glad you decided to travel around and explore more! Try more of Southeast Asia!

  10. Korea on August 25, 2016 at 12:50 am

    are you back in China???

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