10 life lessons and skills that South Korea taught me

10. How to eat a living octopus.

‘Just remember to chew it properly! If you take big piece and don’t chew it properly it can get stuck in your throat, and that’s the kind of thing you die from!’ was the only thing that my Korean friend told me about this. She was probably right; I tried a bigger piece and it got stuck on the inner side of my lip…

They really do their best to escape. We even had one running to it’s death while trying to escape but accidentally ending up in the soya sauce.

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9. How to get full marks on any karaoke machine.


This is all about continuing to sing, even if you can’t follow the lyrics, just sing whatever comes the mind. The trick is to be as loud as you can.

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8. How to drink from 7PM until 7AM with no breaks and no hangover.


I’ve never before been able to drink for this long with no breaks at all and no hangover the next day.

What’s the trick then?

Lots and lots of food. Almost no matter where you go to drink in Korea you can’t order a drink on it’s own, you have to get something to eat with it. That means that Koreans have a better foundation for their drinking, which explains the lack of hangover..?

Because it is certainly not because they drink any less, more like the opposite.


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7. Why aegyo is important in Korea.

First of all I probably have to explain what Aegyo is. Aegyo (애교 in Korean) means: acting like a baby = being cute.

Adjhussi’s  and Ajhumma’s (middle aged men and women) working in shops will often cut down the price for cute girls.

I am very bad at bargaining, but while being in Korea I often wouldn’t have to say anything I’d just put on a cute expression and they would suggest to cut down the price themselves. It did make life a lot easier (and clothes and shoes a lot cheaper).

(Plus, Korean guys seem to love girls with a lot of Aegyo).

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6. Why you should always act as a local.

When you live like a local you usually experience a lot of things that you wouldn’t have otherwise, and they are the kind of memories that you keep for life.

But that’s not the only reason…

Our Japanese friend wanted to buy a DVD so we went to one of the cheap DVD stands in town and started speaking Korean to the seller. But when our friend said something in Japanese to him he started speaking Japanese and the price of the DVD gained an extra zero.

There tend to be quite some prejudice against foreigners, but I’ve experienced a lot less of it in Korea than I thought I would, and a lot less than in other countries *CoughEnglandCough*, however they tend to tune up the prices especially for Japanese tourists.

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5. Why Koreans take Selcas (self-camera)


Selcas are VERY popular in Korea.

Koreans don’t really talk to people they don’t know. Don’t expect to be addressed by a stranger at a bus stop just because you are both waiting for the same bus, it happens in Europe, but it won’t happen in Korea.

So it’s quite unnatural for Koreans to ask strangers to take photos for them, and they do like their photos. Instead they take Selcas; they raise the camera in the air and take a picture of themselves.

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4. Why books in Korea are the best in the world.

They have picture in them, lots! Who doesn’t like picture books?

                        

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3. How to avoid getting wet feet in rainy weather as a girl (you could do this as boy, but I reckon you’d get some odd stares).

Act Korean: wear high heels, in crazy rain or snow. Yes, you most probably will fall while going down the steps to the metro, but, like the Korean girls, just get up on your feet straight away and keep going as though nothing happened.


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2. How to cook anything from noodles to homemade cheese/meat omelettes in a microwave.


Why don’t I have a microwave in England?

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1. Why I’ll never be a real fan-girl.

There is no way I’ll ever be able to scream like this:

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0. How addictive sugar is…

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Thilde Kold Holdt

I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived

enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: "where are you from?" I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though...

© Thilde Kold Holdt