Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

3 things about Korea that may surprise you

1. You can drink outside of convenience stores.

In fact, they set up tables outside just for that!

My third night in Korea was not the first time I ever drank a 40 oz. outside of a 7-Eleven. But it is the first time I’ve ever drank a 40 oz. outside of a 7-Eleven legally. And that’s a beautiful thing.

2. Korea has a fascination with poop.

Korea is considered a conservative country. Cleavage is a no-no. Even holding hands used to be looked down upon. And yet, hardly a week goes by without me seeing some sort of  fecal reference in daily life.

There is the Korean cartoon character, Dongchimee, who wears poop on his head. At festivals, many plays feature a scene with poop jokes. I’ve seen poop necklaces and toys. In class, I had to read to a book called Whose Dung Is This, in which a mole has to find out who crapped on him. And there is even this store (see picture below), which put a kid and his no. 2 on the marquee.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, I think to myself.  After all, in the U.S. we have a fascination with farting. Then, I find something like this:

3. The kindness of strangers.

I’m a little sad that this is surprising to me. But it is.

Moving to another country is stressful enough without having to feel isolated from the local population. Luckily, since my arrival six weeks ago, Korean strangers have shown incredible kindness to me. From our new friend Nick who helped us get to the International Bodypainting Festival  — taking two hours out of his last day of leave from the military — to the businessman who invited me for a beer at a local pub just to make me feel comfortable about living in a new city. And that’s not even counting the teachers at my school who constantly push food and smiles my way. Why don’t we treat foreigners like this in the U.S.?

I’ve asked my teachers why Korean people are so kind. They look a little confused and simply reply, “You are a guest. We like to make our guests feel welcome.”

12 thoughts on “3 things about Korea that may surprise you”

  1. Shannon says:

    Alex, you got a picture with the ‘heart throb guitar player’ you are so lucky!

  2. Michael Hussey says:

    Drinking outside of convenience stores and an obsession with poop joke. So basically, South Korea is like a Kevin Smith movie.

  3. Heidi says:

    The kindness of strangers is everything. Existential I know. But true. Right?

    PS. Do Koreans have a fecal fetish?

    1. Alex Pickett says:

      I don’t think it is as much a fetish as just a collective joke.

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  9. Al says:

    I think the 3rd item should be changes to “kindness of strangers towards Americans/Europeans”

    Koreans have a lot of admiration for Americans and Europeans, but not so much for people from Southeast Asia or Middle East. If you were from Indonesia or the Philippines, they would not be so warm towards you.

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