Time for us to say bad things about Korea! Oh, this is so worrisome. I know some netizen who has never seen the rest of our videos will stumble on this one only, and then think that we’re American pigs who hate Korea and should go back home if we hate it so much!!! (we get called American pigs a lot by angry Korean netizens, by the way…especially when we didn’t like some Korean traditional beverages). So, if you’re a Korean Netizen seeing us for the first time, let us say this:

Hello Korean Netizen! We do not hate Korea! We say lots of nice things about Korea and we like it here a lot! We just don’t like how you drive. That’s all! Please don’t be angry at us for thinking this, because we know you think this way too. Come on. Admit it. Loooveee youuu…Border

Ok, now that that’s off our chest, back to talking about driving in Korea. Now, we’ve talked a lot about it in the video, but I think this blog post might be best served with some diagrams of cool stuff we saw Korean drivers do. Check these out:

Figure 1: Bus driver wants to turn right, but the lane has other cars in it, so the bus drives around everyone by going to the left hand turn lane, then turning right, LIKE A BOSS! **Please note: I don’t think this is legal**

Bus turns right

Figure 2: Car wants to turn right, but there’s a car in the way, so he honks at the car in front of him. The car in front of him kindly gets out of the way, by pulling out in front of everyone at the intersection. Sucks if you’re trying to cross the street.


I don’t think you need any drawings for the rest of these, you can just picture them in your head.

3: Car driver wants a coffee, really bad. Decides to park on either the sideway or hazard on the road in front of the coffee shop, because, well, HE REALLY WANTS A COFFEE. There are TONS of side streets to hazard in, but that would be too far away, so it blocks up the whole intersection because people turing right can’t get buy him. Also, we’ve seen people stop RIGHT after they turn right and just hazard to let someone out, or pick someone up, and the cars behind are just leaning on their horns. Really inconsiderate.

4: Cars are stopped at the red light, but there aren’t a lot of cars driving the other way, so why not creep forward a whole lot, until you’re sticking out right on the crosswalk. They’ll just keep on creepin’ till they finally say “screw it! I’m already half way there!” and they just run the red at a slow speed.

5: There’s a red light in front of the driver, but slowing down sucks, so forget slowing down. Just blow through the red. Really, I almost got smoked by a van like this before. Whizzed right in front of me, just a few feet away from destroying me. No honking, no slowing down, no apology. Just near death experience, I was really shaken up.

Sure, driving isn’t like this for EVERYONE. There are drivers who obey the law and don’t try to run you over. If you’re Korean and one of those drivers, then bless your soul! Otherwise, we’ve experienced so much bad driving that we’re really extra cautious every time we cross the streets in Korea now. Seriously, when people talk about safety in Korea, we’re not worried about crime, and we’re not in the least bit worried about North Korea. Our only fear: drivers trying to murder us.

We asked our Korean friends about what getting a driver’s license is like here, and they’re like, “you just fill out a paper test and then you get your license.” WAHHHAT?? !! THAT’S IT!!! I really REALLY hope this has changed over the past four years we’ve lived here, because that would seriously explain a lot about the driving. A car is a HUGE METAL WEAPON! You have to learn how to wield it! In Ontario (where we are from in Canada) you have to take first take Driver’s Education which doesn’t even involve a car, it’s just being lectured about driving. Then you have three levels (G1, G2, G) you have to go through just to get your final license, and all those require six months to one year of practice before you can even apply for the next level. AND you’re not allowed to drive without a real license holder (who had it for at least four years) in the car with you, AND you’re not allowed on the highways until you’re at the next level! Most people fail their very first driver’s test to get to the first level because there is so much pressure to do everything perfectly. They test your basic driving, parking uphill, downhill, and parallel parking, looking around and checking all your mirrors, how to drive on a one way street, and so on. Once you want to apply for your next level, you have another test where they see how you drive on the highway, can you merge, do you pick up enough speed, and so on. And if you want to drive a motorcycle or scooter, there are completely different licenses and tests you have to take, including a safety class on how to fall properly if you wipe out! I really think Korea needs to start applying more serious tests for their driving or start handing out really expensive tickets and dock points off someone’s license so that they can lose it and start taking running over pedestrians seriously. How about in your country? What is the driving like and do you feel safe as a pedestrian?

  1. As a Korean-American who’s lived in Los Angeles and Seattle, and is currently living in Mexico, I can say with a lot of confidence: KOREAN DRIVING IS RELATIVELY MILD. NO REALLY.


    Sure, there are a lot of aggressive drivers in Korea; but compared to some parts of the world (e.g. Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Egypt, etc.) driving in Korea is a lot safer than other parts of the world. As a 14-year old, I can’t say much about actually driving; but as an attentive passenger, driving in Korea is a lot more standardized and better enforced than other parts of the world.

    My mom is a pure ethical Korean, and her driving is very tame. When we went to Korea last summer, a lot of cars whizzed past us on the road; still better than the driving conditions in Mexico, where the main goal of driving is to race all the cars around you. Also, some of the scenarios you mentioned above happen exactly the same way in Mexico, which I found a bit surprising; I knew Korean drivers could get dangerous sometimes (based on my drama experience), but didn’t realize it was almost identical to Mexican driving.

    I hope the drivers license thingy about signing a piece of paper is old information, because that’s the driving test in Mexico as well. My cousin recently got a drivers license in Seoul, and he commented how similar it was to an American driving test (not like when my parents got their licenses and it was a very rigorous exam).

    Hope you read this!


    • Lol…Mexico City has double the amount of bad drivers than Seoul. It’s like comparing two idiots and saying one isn’t so dumb as the other.
      If we want to make people understand what good driving is, then everyone should look at Hawaii. You will almost never hear a car horn, people wave thanks to other drivers when changing lanes, cars stop for pedestrians in all instances of crossing. Even if the pedestrians cross on the other side of the street and there’s maybe twenty seconds of open space to make your turn, Hawaii drivers stop and wait until all pedestrian are off the road. We don’t block roads intentionally, we don’t make crazy turns, we don’t run red lights with common frequency. Honolulu is the fourth or fifth largest city in USA and there’s a lot of cars and not much space. Because of orderly traffics, we can average over 40 mph when driving. In Asia, it’s so slow.

  2. I’m korean. This is so true. We need to do something about it. Seriously.

  3. Hey! Nice video and I definitely agree. If you are anywhere in close proximity to the road in Korea, you are more or less in a danger zone. I just wrote an article on my blog “Five things To Watch Out For In Korea” and the first topic I wrote about was cars. I put a link to your video about driving in Korea there so people can get a better idea of how crazy it is! :) http://www.apshawaya.com/1/post/2014/03/what-to-watch-out-for-in-korea.html

  4. Umm have yall ever been to Cairo? You haven’t seen anything … Lol

  5. I can say, that in my country is not the best driving situation (Ukraine,Kyiv), but when we was in Seoul we almost always tried to use underpasses. Because passing on zebra crosswalk (without light) was like suicide, cars just did not stop =/ , especially on Yeouido (our hotel was there).

  6. I just started driving the other day, and in New Hampshire, there are like… NO laws that people follow. I mean, it’s not as bad as South Korea, but people blow through red lights and stop signs and turn without signals all the time. And I’ve seen many people driving at 95 mph on a 35mph road with almost no one on it. As if that’s safe! It happens more often on highways though. And to drive, all you need is to be over 15 and a half (I started late). As a pedestrian, though, I see more people jaywalk on busy streets… I don’t know which are worse: pedestrians or drivers. My boyfriend is from Korea though, and it seems scary to him, and he has grown up there (other than being half-Irish and living in America from his birth until he was 4). Also, some of my friends who live in China are like “Oh my God, never drive there!” But others from less busy parts of China see no problem.

  7. No lie. My friend described driving in Korea as “bumper cars.”

  8. Hey there Simon and Martina I was wondering if you would tell us what you think on foreigners in Kpop? Do you think they could ever get in and if so would you like that or would it make you sad?

  9. Hey Simon and Martina!
    I was wondering which cities in Korea are the most fun to go to and why?
    -Fellow Canadian ;)

  10. Your pet peeve with the Korean taxis and the palli sumth, everyone who knows how to drive in my country learns to do it, a lot, after/within their first year of driving often.

  11. Having lived in both Thailand and South Korea, I can say that Yes, Thailand is 100% worse than Korea. In Thailand, pedestrians do not have legal right of way. You walk across the street at your own risk in Thailand.

  12. In texas it seems like the pedestrian is like the real owner of the street. when im walking across the street i feel totally safe, but when im the one driving i get like, super duper paranoid that someone might walk in front of me. parking lots are especially annoying because parents will just let their kids run in the way of like twelve cars trying to park and they glare at you if you get too close. i seriously almost ran over a kid whose parent didnt even notice i was there. im starting to think you should need a license to be a pedestrian…

  13. @simonandmartina:disqus the scooter problems and the crazy bus driver isn’t just a Korean problem. I lived 6 years in Rome, Italy and I guarantee you that all the questions you asked about how to cross the street you have to learn to do that in Rome. I have even learned how to hate scooters, because the sidewalks are their own personal parking spaces, I even got honked once because I was walking on the sidewalk and the scooter driver wanted to park on that place.

  14. Martina I LOVE ur t-shirt :)

  15. I disagree ;3;~
    1) Always in a rush to get somewhere }check
    2) Yellow light means speed up, red means go if you don’t want to wait }check
    3) Pedestrians = road kill }check

    Have you guys never been to Boston? D: I think us Bostonians would fit in perfectly in Korea. Except most of us suck at parking. You have no idea how much people suck at parking here. Of course, there is one thing that’s different. Since we each believe in our twisted little minds that we’re wicked awesome drivers, we have no idea why we have one of the highest car insurance rates in the country. Nor why all the tickets are insanely expensive. Maybe Massachusetts needs to chill and start letting us off the hook with these prices like in Korea.
    Of course, the magic and wonder of double and triple parking and the legal usage of the “breakdown” lane as a “High-Speed” lane during rush hour is our state’s way of making it up to us ^^~

  16. Here in São Paulo, Brazil is totally crazy, drivers just don’t follow any rule, sign here for turning streets just don’t exist, crosswalks and red lights are ignored , I have lived in other citys in Brazil and no one is like this. So I can’t say Brazillian drivers are horrendous but the ones from São Paulo sure are!

  17. you have’nt been to Shang Hai
    it’s like 10 times worse! XD

  18. Singapore is like…
    when u cross the road
    1) look left
    2) look right
    3) look left
    4) then cross
    This is drilled into our Minds!

  19. How about what it’s like being a forgeiner with the Korean election going on and what you feel about it?

  20. Hey Simon and Martina! Can you tell us a little about holidays/seasonal celebrations in Korea, and how they’re celebrated?

  21. Hey Simon and Martina! Could you tell us a little about holidays and seasonal celebrations in Korea, and how they differ from those common in North America?

  22. I’m a French who girl who lived in China for several years and I’m now travelling very often there. China is really worst for the driving. I remember when I flew from China to spend few days in Seoul, I was so happy to have the impression of being in a more civilised country just by seeing the way people were driving. But it seems that driving in Asia is a real matter for everycountry.

  23. One of the reasons the delivery scooter people drive crazy is because you don’t need a license for scooters under a certain CC (cubic centimeters, aka: engine size). No license, no enforcement or citation from the police, bali-bali culture…it all adds up.

    The scooters still scare the heck out of us. :DDD

  24. I was wondering if Simon and Martina have an opinion on how teenagers become saesang fan since you were both teachers in Korea. And have you two come across saesangs when going to music shows or doing meet ups for idol interviews?

  25. Hi Simon and Martina!
    Will the two of you ever plan a trip to Japan?

  26. soo true about Thailand.. even if the light is red there will still go raging through the lights on there scooters or cars at u.. vrrrrrroooooooom death by crazy scooter driver…

  27. im from Venezuela and we kinda have a reputation for crazy driving here but even THEN, I remember when I went to France, I saw my life flash in front of my eyes several times when we were taking taxis. hahahaa.

  28. Im a Swedish seventeen year old who just returned home from a ten day trip to Korea, and here in Sweden I’m practicing to take my licence which you can apply for at eighteen, so I’ll try to compare for you guys!
    So basically in Korea I expreienced the same stuff as you did; crazy maneuvers, wierd parking and especially the red-light-creeping… But here in Sweden you have both a theorethical and a practical test which are supposed to be quite hard, and if you don’t drive PERFECTLY the first two years after you got your licence it will be taken away immidiently.
    My sister who just recently took her licence said the theorethical test was not only signs and stuff bur also questions like “Why do young men drive worse than other age/gender groups?” and the answers you could pick was like “Because they like to show off” and stuff – here they want the licence-takers to know general knowledge like that too.
    And here in Sweden, I just walk out in the road and I expect the cars to see me and stop. I stopped doing that in Korea quite quickly… XD
    (Please ignore any strange English)

  29. Dear Simon and Martina,

    I have a question not about Koreans living in Korea, but about Koreans abroad.

    My boyfriend is a student in London and he has become friends with a south Korean guy. I also met him and he is super friendly, but almost too friendly (yes it is possible). Even though he had never seen me, he had bought me a small gift. He also constantly treats my boyfriend with coffee or lunch (and NO, neither of them is gay. That would have explained a lot though…). But my boyfriend feels almost guilty and he wants to pay him back or give something in return. The thing is, we don’t know what exactly and we don’t want to be rude or accidently offend him. I already gave him some Belgian chocolates when I visited London.

    What can we do in order to repay his kindness?
    And would it be weird if we bought him a small christmas present, him being Korean and all?

  30. Oh I know exactly what you mean. The driving in Vietnam is a lot like this :D Even if there’s a red light in front of the drivers they’re just like “NAAAAH! Who cares!” … you could think they don’t even know that something like traffic lights exist XDDD
    (don’t want to offend anyone… as a Vietnamese myself I’ve to admit: my parents, aunts, counsins etc. are one of those crazy drivers, too. not always BUT every time when I ride the pillion I’m so freaking out :D)

  31. great illustrations huh. . . .specially the doodles!

  32. Jajajajaja guys I really can understand what your saying, but, while you were in Mexico ¿Didnt you saw haw we drive? Not me but ITS CRAZY, so…. If you drive some time in here i bet you will say that you were Freakinly scared to.

  33. How do you get the opportunity to meet/interview groups, like Block B?

  34. My best friend has been in Seoul for a month, last year, and she told me exactly the same thing: Korean drivers are dangerous.

    Concerning driving lessons, I am from Quebec, Canada and though Ontario and Quebec are neighbors, driving lessons and tests are very different! When I took my classes, the lecture part was optional so I didn’t take it (now it is obligatory), but I still had to take the theoretical exam. With that, I can drive with a real licence holder and decide if I either take the driving class or not (driving class: 6 months before taking the exam, with your parent as your teacher: 1 year before taking the exam, although now you must absolutely take driving class and wait for a complete year before trying the exam). To pass the driving test, you had to have more than 70% and that’s it. You can drive where ever you want, when ever you want. But still, people fail a lot at both tests, even if the first is easy.

    By the way, I really like your videos! You both are very funny :D!

  35. I just wonder: How do you guys translate when you do interviews? I meet do you translate it to English by your self or do you have someone who helps you? (sorry the English I’m a French Nastie) :D

  36. I have a question for TL:DR

    I recently got home from an school exchange in Japan. While there I encountered many hilarious stereotypes and misconceptions about North America. (Such as all Americans own gun) I was wondering if you had ever encountered any funny misconceptions about North American Culture?

  37. The law in Korea doesn’t state that you have to wait for a green light to turn right. Even if it’s red, you’re allowed to turn right. So…that might have given you a little bit of heart-attack.

  38. I loved this TL:DR ♥ At it was surprising for me to notices that corean driving is as dangerous as in Peru (yes I live in Peru :3 ) I mean It’s insane all cars want to murder u no matter what and the buses those are the worst they run like the car was on fire and comete against eache other YES THEY FRIKIN COMPETE ! ITS A CONTEST THE BUS WITH MORE PEOPLE STUFFED INSIDE WINS! And when u have to get down to your destination u better be careful cuz they are gonna throw u out and maybe u will fall on your feet only if u are lucky enough or a pro gimnast :3

  39. What type of music is played in Korean radios? Is it just Korean music or do they occasionally have something in English? And do any Korean people know of any North American singers?

    I do know for sure that on rare occasions I will hear Gangnam Style, but aside from Spanish radios that’s the only thing in another language I’ve heard.

  40. Actually, I’m not sure how an adult can get a drivers license but in my state you have to take drivers ed. Then you have to have a certain amount of time driving with a preliminary type of card. But during this time you can’t have anyone other than one family member in the car with you. Then you have to take some kind of test to see if you get your real license. But that’s from what I’ve heard from other people who’ve gotten one. I don’t have a license yet.

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