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So the top rated question for this week is “What are some of the aspects of the culture that you STILL can’t get used to.” Oh boy. This is going to be a difficult issue to discuss, because we’re worried that people might get offended. But, ah well! What we said here has to be said. People are really scary drivers in Korea, and they butt us in line a lot.

With the first point, we don’t want this to deteriorate into simply stereotyping Asian people as bad drivers, which is what we’re worried we’ll be accused of. Let’s say off the bat that we’re not accusing Korean people of being bad drivers. We’re accusing them of being recklessly aggressive. Allow us to tell a few stories: driving the scooter home today, right after filming this week’s TLDR segment, and a car pulled into my lane, into INCOMING TRAFFIC, because the driver he was behind was going too slowly. I leaned on my horn, and the driver that was coming right at me pulled off to the sidewalk (where people were walking) and I drove between his car and that of the slow driver. It’s crazy. I could have been hit today.

Two weeks ago we witnessed two different scooter accidents within the span of five days. In one of them we had to lift the car off the scooter driver. While everyone stood around and gawked from the sidewalk, we ran to the convenience store, grabbed some water and tissues, and cleaned the blood off his face to see where he was bleeding. We had to stop other people from trying to get him to sit up. What if he broke his neck!? Don’t move his head until the ambulance comes! The ambulance came and we walked away, while everyone still stood and stared. Five days later we were eating dinner and watched a scooter T-Bone a taxi and flip over the taxi. He was fine, somehow (must be the inner ninja in him) but the taxi’s window was shattered and passenger door crumpled.

Last winter we got into a taxi during a snowstorm. Bad idea. This guy wanted to drive as fast as he could, fishtailed around a corner, and lost control of the car and we spun out in the middle of the street. When the taxi finally stopped spinning we saw a bus barreling down at us, and we thought that this was it: we were going to die, because some jackass doesn’t know how to drive in the snow. The bus narrowly swerved away and we weren’t hit. The taxi driver straightened out his car and started driving us back home, only this time again just as freaking insanely as before. We feared for our life, genuinely, and got out of the taxi and walked home for an hour in the snowstorm instead.

It’s terrifying. Really. We have friends who have been hit by cars, and friends of friends who’ve been hit so hard that they were put into comas. We’ve almost been hit many times. We’ve been in taxis that have almost hit people many times. Buses have almost hit people many times. Seriously: Korea is an exceptionally safe country. We don’t worry about ever being mugged or attacked. We can leave the keys in our scooter and nobody will steal it. No vandalism, no drug related crimes (that we’re aware of). We’re shocked at how well behaved people are, and so we’re never worried about the people we meet on the street. Put them in cars, though, and we’re seriously scared of the damage they can do to us.

But these are just a few examples of bad scenarios we have been in. The vast majority of our experiences are decent, safe, and nothing to write about. So it would be totally unjustified to say that all Korean people are bad drivers. Our problem is, really, that some of the worst driving we’ve ever experienced was in the three years we’ve been here in Korea. Or maybe Canada is just the greatest driving country in the world, and all other countries pale in comparison (doubt that). We just know that the stuff we see here we’re totally unused to, and it really freaks us out. Red lights in Canada mean stop, not “ehh, creep forward a bit to see if you can make it through the lights before getting smoked.”

The butting in line issue is also one that peeves us off a bit, but at least it doesn’t endanger our lives. We just seem to, majority of the time, have someone butt in line when we’re waiting for either the bus or the subway. I swear, we’ll wait for the bus to Seoul for like, ten minutes. The bus will pull up, and people who just got there will rush to the front to get in front of us. No apologies, no nothing.

This is so painful to us, because it’s something that was heavily instilled in us as children. You cannot get back into the classroom after recess unless you are all in an orderly line. More than that, we were taught to demonize all butters of lines. Doesn’t matter if your friend was there, or that you put your hat down in line and that marked your spot in line. NO! YOU CANNOT BUTT IN LINE!! ARRGHH! Why isn’t it the same in Korea? Or is it? Maybe we’ve just had a string of bad luck? We’ve even had this happen to us in coffee shops. We’ll wait in line, and someone will walk off the street and try to order a latte right away. That’s where we use our broken Korean and let them know that there’s a lineup, to which they’ll politely defer. But, still! What the heck!

We really hope this isn’t taken out of proportion. Every time we say something remotely negative about Korea we get a backlash from netizens who say “If you don’t like it then leave you dirty Americans!” even though we’re Canadian. We’ll say it again: Korea, we love you, and we think you’re a fantastic country. You’re not perfect, and, really, if our two biggest complaints about you are how you drive and cut in line, then that’s a good thing! Oh well!

ToFebruary
  1. When I was in India, lines didn’t really matter, they just kind of assume that if you aren’t pushing, you don’t want it… and I mean EVERY line, bathroom lines, movie lines, train ticket lines, everything. But if someone cuts and you just tap them on the shoulder and politely say “excuse me, but there is a line” they get extremely apologetic and move to the back. They just don’t realize that there could be a line. I think its just so ingrained in western culture that we just assume that there IS a line, even when sometimes there isn’t. Those moments when you don’t see anybody but that one person standing to the side and you feel compelled to ask “I’m sorry, are you in line?” and they look at you like an idiot with some response like “um, no. I’m just posting a flyer on this bulletin board here….”

    Or maybe its only me who has those awkward moments… *sigh*

  2. I was in vietnam on holidays and they have this crazy driving problems too. But If you want to cross the road however the scooters will most likely just drive around you there aren’t a lot of crossings in vietnam and traffic lights

  3. i’m with u guys 100% on this one. driving manners are soooo bad in korea. but if you got like a million ppl in one small area where the traffic is always bad, you gotta no choice but ignore every traffic rule to go to your destination otherwise you will be stuck in one spot forever.

  4. i know this guy that does that all the time! the rest of us have been waiting for like 30 min and he just shows up and stands in front of all of us and gets on the bus! we’re like wtf! I wonder if he’s korean lol : )

  5. I’m Korean-American and the invasion of my personal space here in Seoul drives me absolutely crazy! There are really only a handful of countries in the world that queue up: UK and Commonwealth, US, and Japan. I also hate when cars come very close to me as I cross the street within a crosswalk. It probably doesn’t help that I look like one of their own, but in fact I am quite foreign.

  6. I hate that!!!!!!! last week i took the subway….there were some boys like 9 or 10 years old…line up? Don’t think about it!!!…anyways… there were some blind people wanting to get outside the subway..AND THEY DIDN’T CARE!!! they just kicked their way inside!!!!!!! i mean wtf????!!!!!!!!!!! And that was not in Asia it was in the middle of europe!!!

  7. When I went to Seoul in 2007, I was propelled into the aisle since I was sitting in the middle of the top level seats in the bus…oh, and one time this ahjussi slam dunked into me in the subway station and didn’t even apologize! I was so ticked that I swore at him…just to get a long lecture from my parents :/

  8. i think this is an asian problem lol. same thing happen to me in vietnam. n my friend who was in china had similar experience. goodness!

  9. i think this is an asian problem lol. same thing happen to me in vietnam. n my friend who was in china had similar experience. goodness!

  10. i think this is an asian problem lol. same thing happen to me in vietnam. n my friend who was in china had similar experience. goodness!

  11. i think this is an asian problem lol. same thing happen to me in vietnam. n my friend who was in china had similar experience. goodness!

  12. I was just in Hong Kong for 3 weeks and had these same exact experiences! Being born and raised in Vancouver I wasn’t used to the scary traffic, and line butting. The first time I got into my boyfriend’s car I quite literally started squirming every time a car got near his. His explanation of it was that if you leave a gap you basically let anyone and everyone who’s trying to get into your lane in and you’ll never make it anywhere. So when everyone was trying to merge out of an ending lane you basically just have to get your front end right up against the bumper of the car in front of you. Line butting was horrendous, we went to Disneyland and I have never felt like knocking out so many people all at the same time before. They would cut you off like it’s a Nascar race every time there was a corner at the line up. Me and my boyfriend basically had to stand far apart from each other holding hands so people wouldn’t walk in front of us! But I guess it’s something you have to get used to if you live in Asia. 

  13. LOL I thought these were problems only in China! The line-butting is just ridiculous there, especially because it is so crowded, and a lot of people live in the countryside, where there isn’t a need for lines. However, some people will actually learn to cheat up lines. This one guy (at the Korea Pavillion at the world expo in Shanghai…which took us more than three hours to get into) was actually telling his kid to push up the line and say that his dad was there, and a few minutes later, he would push up the line, saying that his kid was further up on the line. He even ended up yelling at his other kid (both kids were only six to eight years old) for not cheating up the line!

    I don’t think that Koreans (and Chinese) are BAD at driving…but perhaps a little too good. They’re better enforcing the red light thing, but not so much the actual driving. Lanes? What’s that? If your car is small enough to fit between two cars, between two lanes, you do it. I don’t think any Canadian driver can pull that off, even if they wouldn’t get into trouble with it (even my dad was amazed, and he’s every bit angry, crazy Asian driver lol).

    I guess it really has to do with how crowded the country (or city) is, because sometimes, if there’s too many people and you’re the last one in the line, you might not be able to get what you want, so people get really anxious and just cut in line like it’s nothing.

  14. You know, though, our Korean friends have told us that they also hate it when people cut in front of them?  It seems like it’s just the older generation that are butters.  Hopefully butting will soon not be as rampant…

  15. THEY ARE SUCH BUTTERS…..  lol.  I was happy when I found out you had to get a ticket number when going to the movies to buy a ticket.  However, some people STILL BUTT.  They don’t even get a ticket and just stroll up there when there are like a good dozen or so people just hanging out and waiting for their number to be called.

    The driving thing….. I agree….. geez.  No comment…. 

  16. wow… i’ve experienced some horrifying driving too, it was when our class went for a trip to russia, and we were allowed to go to a store on ourselves, so yeah, we are going to the store (four 12-13 year old girls), we go accross the street and this HUGE jeep like comes out of nowhere and almost hits us, i swear i felt the cars wind in my hair O_O that moment i was really like, cmon, you cant drive like this when there are CHILDREN CROSSING THE STREET?

  17. Just to balance out, I experienced a crazy drive in Paris no less.  My wife and I were coming back from a trip to Europe and I guess the taxi driver who picked us up from the hotel was running late.  He was going REALLY fast on the highway.  I could feel it and was afraid to look at the speedometer. 

    Someone I know in Seoul mentioned drivers in Busan are worse than ones in Seoul.  I guess he thinks Busan drivers don’t yield while Seoul ones do.

    Again 2 sides to all stories and that’s why I like simonandmartina.  :)

    • Actually, the speed limits are REALLY high in Parisian highways. In Toronto, the fastest speed limit for highways I’ve ever seen is 100km/h, but in France, it was around 120km/h. The highways also aren’t as wide as ours, so it FEELS a lot faster, too.

  18. I can totally agree with this, cuz I just had a vacation at Seoul for 5 days and I always took the taxi or the bus, I can compare the drivers in Korea with the drivers in Hongkong, on both ride you really need to hold on to your seat, but they have great balance, you know the peeps standing inside the bus, wow! even in heels they can keep their balance. But I still love Korea it’s such a beautiful place, I will definitely come back ^^

  19. OMG! That explains why I am always reading articles about kpop idols getting into car accidents. I am gonna have to warn my friend when we go to Korea because she does not pay attention on the roads lol

  20. definitely agree. even some bus drivers here (mostly i mean) are reaaaalllly rude :'( 

  21. Oh, man, I’m so taking a poll of all koreans to figure out why they butt in line.  It makes me want to freak out every time it happens.  Like, why I am I standing here?  Just for fun?  No, I want to buy some coke light.  

  22. Do they not have polices or are they just not doing their job?

  23. Wow. I will prepare myself and practicing my basket squats for Korea! Thank you!

  24. mmm I was in korea for one month! *sob* we were only trying to get to cosco*sob* they…they wouldn’t let us in! We just wanted cheese…..*sob* never should have drove there…..
    and went to Soraksan (yay)……….so much traffic…..took us 8 hours!

  25. Lol……NZ drivers sometime drive like that…..

  26. I agree 100% that drivers in Korea are the worst part of being here.  I love driving and miss it soooooo much, but not enough to risk getting a scooter and trying to drive myself.  It’s bad enough that I bike on these streets!

  27. The update implies that you guys are okay xD

  28. I’m going to Korea on SUNDAY!!!! WOOO HOOOOO!!!!!!!

  29. thats funny, because korean women in america are known to be bad drivers in general.

    “ahhh, wth is that person doing??!?!??!!?! does she not know how to drive?!?!??!””oh…she’s a korean lady……….” 

  30. yeh, sadly, it is true. as a korean, I am ashamed of it 

  31. I don’t know why you think Korea is so safe in general. For women it’s definitely not. I got attacked and harassed by random men so many times there. Some guy even followed me home from work and broke into my apartment. I didn’t have my scooter stolen, but someone did steal the keys out of it (I guess with the intention of coming back to take it later), and they liked to knock it over and stuff trash in the hand protectors. Anyway, I lived in Korea for four years and I have to say it’s one of the most dangerous places for women I’ve visited, based on my experiences and those of friends. And yeah, absolutely insane drivers.

    • Reading this is super surprising to me. I experienced Korea (specifically, Seoul) as one of the safest countries I’ve ever been to. Never once was I harrassed, attacked or generally felt unsafe in any way, no matter what time of the day or night it was. 

      • Weird, I’ve heard some people say that and others say the opposite. Maybe it’s just bad luck or the fact that I went walking or jogging alone a lot, but I was in some really dangerous situations and am lucky to be alive. It just worries me when people say Korea is so safe and you can walk the streets alone at night, because I know what happened to me and don’t want it to happen to other women. I’m very glad you didn’t have any negative experiences!

        • I agree Kya. It’s pretty safe for groups or single guys, but I know many occasions where single girls or two girls were harassed on the streets and followed home by drunk men, trying to get into their apartments. I’m not trying to say Korea is a haven for crime because it’s not. I loved my time in Korea. But it’s not that much safer than places in Canada and the U.S. especially for women.

  32. And did Martina just say “Taxes” instead of “Taxis”? xD

  33. At first I was like “Butter? The thing you cook with?” LOL. I like ‘Butter’ more than ‘Cutter’ (American) xD

  34. HOLY CRAP! I LOVE BUTTER! Butter on my pancakes. Butter on my cornbread. Butter on my popcorn…

    Wait. You weren’t talking about that kind of butter were you? (Mouth getting Martina-small)

    Anyways, yeah. I hate cutters (< that's the American word for it). I will do the same thing when I'm in line for the train. Somebody cuts and my arm goes out like WATAH! "Sorry buddy! See the long line of people behind me? Yeah."

    But, I do wanna see an addendum to this video where you 1) Just take a two minute video at an intersection. No commentary. Just so we foreigners can see the danger we're getting ourselves into, and 2) A setup in a cafe where you're chillin' in line and do the fence when somebody tries to cut. I'm curious what other people's reactions are when they see you two do that in public.

    Great video y'all. Keep it up.

  35. Geez. I thought driving in my area was bad. All I have to deal with is traffic and people ignoring the green lights because they’re too busy eating/texting/doing makeup/contemplating serious world issues. I’d much rather sit behind an inattentive moron than fear for my life. And I don’t think I’d be able to contain my rage if someone cut in front of me in line. There are politics and rules involved, man. That’s important stuff you learn when you’re in elementary school that stays with you for the rest of your life.

  36. Geez. I thought driving in my area was bad. All I have to deal with is traffic and people ignoring the green lights because they’re too busy eating/texting/doing makeup/contemplating serious world issues. I’d much rather sit behind an inattentive moron than fear for my life. And I don’t think I’d be able to contain my rage if someone cut in front of me in line. There are politics and rules involved, man. That’s important stuff you learn when you’re in elementary school that stays with you for the rest of your life.

  37. I thought the same thing when they were saying “butter butter” lol, it’s always been cutter for me, so maybe it is an American thing.
    Some of the worst times I remember dealing with this I was actually in Walt Disney World! We were in line for a ride that was getting ready to open back up because it had been raining earlier in the day. As soon as they started letting people in, there was a rush of people pushing from the back, grown adults pushing kids!
    And another time we had stayed to watch one of the light shows they have at night. As we were leaving it was so crowded my family walked in a single file line, holding onto each others hands so no one got lost. A lady in an electric wheelchair/scooter, (don’t quite know what to call it, its the kind you can get at a grocery store, at least where I live you can), was trying to push her way through the crowd that was already slow moving. As she headed around my family she ran over my sister’s foot and bumped into me! Cutting/butting/pushing is just not worth it!

  38. interesting i have a phobia of like dying from avehicle related death so i may rethinkn lving in korea lol

  39. What do you guys think of Daesung’s car accident?

  40. Sounds like it will be an extremely good idea to stay away from the road as much as possible when I am walking along the streets of Korea! Not to mention, staying away from the curves as much as possible as I wait to cross the street. I will let others go first, look both ways, and leave the house earlier than needed when I am meeting people :p As for line butting, it happens back at home, too (fellow Ontarian here!). I hate it when people will push their way past you, or stand directly in front of you when the bus or subway comes.. it is even more annoying when they bump into you and glare at you for it –; But unless they step out of the line, I ignore them (because there are just way too many psychos out there these days!).

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