I’ve only been in South Korea for about 4 days but have already noticed some interesting cultural trends. Here’s a few that stand out so far:
1) Men love the coif. Other than gender, the coif knows no boundaries (athough I’m sure I’ll see a woman with a coif at some point). The coif is featured prominently on just about every advert that has a man in it.
2) Women love mirrors. It didn’t take long to notice the abnormally high frequency of mirrors in stores and even in metro stations. Women are constantly checking themselves in mirrors and / or applying makeup.
3) For the most part, people here dress very well. Suits and ties for the men even on weekends. High heels and skirts/dresses for the women. The other obvious fashion trend are people decked out in hiking gear (boots, poles, backpack) even when it’s obvious that they haven’t gone and aren’t going to go hiking all day.
4) Lots of women have unnaturally pale skin. Back in the day being tan meant you were poor because you were working in the fields all day. Nowadays, I’m not sure why having lighter (think mental institution scrubs) white skin is what women here desire. There are lots of skin whitening products out on the market here.
5) Kim Yuna lovefest. Yes, she’s an Olympic gold medalist. Yes, a lot of young girls look up to her. Yes, she’s got a pretty face and is photogenic. But seriously, her face is everywhere. From cosmetics to soju, she’s on so many adverts that you can’t get away from her. I thought I’d seen more adverts of her than men on the street with coifs, but then I realized that even she can’t overtake the coifs.
9) Speaking of murses, the murse (male purse) is a disturbingly popular fashion accessory for all men. Sorry friends, you will never catch me rocking one of these.
10) People drink like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, it’s common to see people passed out drunk on the sidewalk.