Business News Day
– South Korea is today’s country. Not only is Hallyu (Korean wave) sweeping
through the Western world, also traditional elements of Korean culture from
kimchi to your smartphone are gaining worldwide popularity. So, what is there
to know about this unique peninsula? Here’s everything you need to know.
1. Korea is all about education Korea
is constantly ranked among the world’s best in terms of education
system and student knowledge as suggested by studies such as PISA and the World
Top 20 Poll. But not only that, of all OECD Countries, South Korea is the
country with the highest tertiary university achievement for people aged
between 25 and 34. 68% of Koreans have graduated from a university or similar
educational institution. No wonder then, that education is a big industry in
this Asian tiger nation and high school students spend up to 16 hours per day
in school… This country is all about them learning!
2. South Korea has made one of the most impressive economic leaps in modern
In the late 1950s, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the
world. With a GDP per capita of $94 (compared to North Korea’s $140 at the
time), it was well below the poverty line. A controversial ruler, but above all
a hard worker, changed this quickly. In just about 20 years, South Korea went
from one of the poorest countries to one of the richest countries in the world.
While it should not be forgotten that this all took place under an accused and
somewhat inhumane dictator, this economic leap was unprecedented.
3. There is a widespread belief that fans in confined spaces can kill you Koreans
are not too afraid. But if you put it in a closed room, put it to
sleep, and turn on the fan, you may be causing serious anxiety. Where this
belief came from, no one really knows but even today it is still widespread.
4. South Korea is an eSports mecca
You’ve always dreamed of a big room where you and all your friends can play
online games together on high-end computers. Or, like the rest of us, you want
to attend a massive eSports event on the beach? Well, Korea is the place.
Computer rooms (PC bangs) in Korea are as normal as bakeries in Europe. And
yes, the eSports event is also at Gwangalli Beach in Busan. But beware, Koreans
are world-famous for being some of the best eSports players in the world!
5. The brand of soju is the most sold alcohol worldwide
Would you guess that vodka or gin would top the list? Couldn’t have been
more wrong. Over the years, Jinro Soju
has become the world’s best-selling
alcohol! Perhaps not surprising, considering that with an average of 11.2
shots, Koreans are also the world’s biggest liquor consumers. Can’t try it yet?
Time to visit Korea!
6. Almost half of all Koreans are called Lee, Park or Kim
A relic of the desire of Korean merchants to thrive in their position in the
18th century, several names became famous on the peninsula. Especially Kim has
a special position: one in five Koreans has this last name.
7. Kimchi is life – literally
Long ago, when Koreans were poor and had long winters, Koreans had little
choice but to ferment cabbage to survive. In essence, that’s how Kimchi was
born. This tradition is so deeply rooted in Korean history and character that
nowadays you will have a hard time going to a restaurant and not eating Kimchi.
It’s always served as a side dish — no matter where you are. So, it’s quite
logical that Koreans also say ‘Kimchi’ instead of ‘Cheese’ when taking photos.
8. Koreans will always be one year older than you
At least if you both count in your original way. The difference is that in
Korea, everyone is one year old at birth. And not only that: on the New Year,
everyone simultaneously becomes one year older! This means, in turn, in Korean
times, you can already be two years older than the international age.
9. A quarter of Koreans have had plastic surgery before
Koreans are obsessed with looks. You will see when you visit, people really
care. So many, many of them consider plastic enhancements. Although the
majority of them are relatively minor (double eyelid surgery), the plastic
surgery business in Korea
is growing rapidly.
10. Love motel is around
Something of a somewhat unusual concept for many Westerners, love motels are
big business in Korea. What do you like? Love motels, which have rooms for a
few hours or a night, are mostly designed for one reason. From budget to
luxury, from basic to curly. And why all that? Most young Koreans live in
dormitories or with their parents until their student time is up. So, it’s not
(only) meant for hookups. Quite the opposite: many couples book great rooms for
their date night in advance!
11. Korea’s entertainment industry is one of the largest in the world
K-pop, k-film, k-drama, k-beauty… K is all around! Not only do you hear
Korean music even in European supermarkets these days, but also its cinemas
have reached the world stage. As one of the biggest global film industries, the
film is also on its way to its first Oscar: Boon’s Parasite is the hour.
12. Koreans respect the rules
In Korea, people like to have fun and they also like entertainment. But they
didn’t cross the line of pun. Even in bustling Seoul, you will rarely see
non-tourists walking around or misbehaving. It is part of identity and culture
not to cause too much trouble or trouble for others.
13. Korean president charged with non-violent mass protest
Due to many problems such as lack of responsibility for the Sewol crossing
disaster as well as corruption, in 2016/2017, millions of Koreans took to the
streets to protest against their president (on a side note: this president is
Park Geun-Hye, quite interestingly the daughter of the dictator leader Korea in
the 60s and 70s mentioned above). Their weapons? Candle! Mass protest without
violence or commotion (for reasons, see 12) but with something far more
important: success. They were so ubiquitous in the media that they led the
tribunal to indict Park, who is now serving a 24-year sentence for a number of
14. The national hero is an ice skater
Yuna Kim is everyone’s favorite in Korea. Just look at his Wikipedia, he
basically won everything and kind of brought the Olympics to Korea
on his own.
You’ll always see a smile on every Korean’s face mentioning Kim Yuna’s three
syllabus (which is, by the way, the correct order for spelling names in
15. Food is at the heart of everything in Korea
If there’s one thing that best describes Korea, it’s its food culture. Not
only do Koreans eat a lot, eating equals well-being from Seoul to Busan. Saying
‘how are you’ can mostly be associated with ‘have you eaten’. When parents talk
to their children, they are always worried about ‘eating well’. What’s more,
watching people eat live is a huge thing in Korea, everything can be conveyed,
and food trends are important: every season has new food wonders and
experiments. For all these reasons, Koreans are sometimes called ‘Italians of
the East’. And the unique Korean cuisine is a small part of every Korean