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Korea vs Japan

March 28, 2013


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For starters, I’m sure some people might see the title of this blog post and video and jump into the comment section, guns blaring, keyboards smoking from all the rage typing. Korea vs Japan! There’s bad blood between Korea and Japan, for reasons that we can’t do justice in explaining in a short blog post. We see these tensions pop up often in our YouTube comments, if we ever mention anything Japanese. I know it’s gonna be the same in the YouTube comments to this video. But I know you blog readers are more civil than that, and can focus on the discussion at hand. Which is why we love you all. Thanks for coming here and leaving great comments. The discussion in last week’s Sexism in Korea video here on the site was wonderful. Thank you all for that.

We’re hoping that we can keep up the discussion with this week’s topic of differences between Japan and Korea. Basic differences, that is; stuff you might have noticed. Not talking about differences in language or culture or history or politics. Just different experiences of both countries. We mentioned a few in our video. There are tons more. Some that we didn’t mention that you might find interesting:

Japan has a much bigger disk culture, it seems. We saw tons of DVD shops, and huge, sprawling DVD sections in stores for soooooo many things. Old shows, like Alf, had the complete DVD sets available in Japan (seriously who the flurk would buy an Alf complete set?!?!). In Korea, though, we BARELY see any DVDs. It’s unfortunate. When we first came to Korea, we could rent DVDs from the convenience store, and saw a few DVD shops around the area that we could get movies from. Now, our convenience stopped renting out DVDs, and those rental shops are closed. I’m sure we could find DVDs if we went out looking for them, but they’re nowhere near as pervasive as they were in the places we visited in Japan.

Korean taxis are freaking cheap! To be honest, I don’t think I ever took a taxi before coming to Korea, because taxis are so expensive everywhere. Sure, they drive like maniacs and we feel like we’re in danger every time we’re in one, but they’re cheap! In Japan, taxis are crazy expensive. We never went into one, but we were told to stay away. You know, damn: we should have tried it just to see what it was like. We can’t compare the prices because we’re not sure. Maybe Japanese taxis are not as crazy expensive as people make them out to be?

You know how we feel about driving in Korea (it’s the worst). We always feel funny whenever we go to Japan, because on the first day we’re always like “Don’t cross the street yet! It’s our light, but this mofo’s gonna kill us!” but that never happens. Cars stop behind the lines they’re supposed to stop at! It’s amazing. Korea: we love lots of things about you, but we hate your driving the most!

Speaking the Native Language
Ok, so this one we’re not too sure about. Please let us know if you’ve experienced it differently. Here’s what we kinda thought: whenever we saw interracial relationships in Japan, between a foreigner and a Japanese person, they very often spoke to each other in Japanese. In Korea, though, most of the interracial relationships we’ve seen have people speaking in English. Is it just us who noticed this? We don’t want to form any speculations as to why, or if this is indicative of different countries and their perceptions on language. Maybe we just fluked out and saw a few instances in Japan of people speaking Japanese, when in reality foreigners don’t speak it too often. Or maybe lots of interracial couples in Korea speak Korean to each other (but we seriously barely know of ANY). Thoughts?

Lots of Different Kinds of Foreigners
In Japan, we saw many more foreigners than we do here in Korea. Most of the foreigners we meet here are English teachers, while in Japan we saw lots of different foreign families, with baby carriages! Seriously barely see any foreigners with baby carriages here. Maybe foreigners leave their babies at home? Ha! That was a joke. But, seriously: we heard people speaking German, Russian, heard a lot of Nigerian accents, and just saw more multicultural diversity in Japan than we do here in Korea. Maybe because we were just in the touristy parts of Tokyo, while it could be that outside of those areas foreigners are totally screwed? I don’t know.

Restaurant Service
We talked about how we dearly missed vegetables when we went out to restaurants in Tokyo. Another thing we really missed that we couldn’t really articulate in a short video was the level of customer service that we missed from Korea. Wow. It’s one of our favorite things about this country. If we go to small restaurants, not the big franchises, and there’s an ajumma (older lady) working there, she treats us like we’re family. She’ll talk to us fondly, let us know if our jackets fell of our chairs and are on the ground, will flip our meat for us, give us extra side dishes not on the menu for free, and just so much more. One of our favorite places in Bucheon (OH WE MISS YOU SO MUCH BUCHEON!) – our favorite Samgyeopsal place in fact – had the sweetest ladies. They loved Martina’s hair, would talk about it whenever she redyed it. There’d even be moments when they’d pull of loose strands from Martina’s jacket. During the winter, they’d heat up sweet potatos, not available on the menu, and bring them to us. Damn! They were so kind and caring! And that’s not just for that restaurant: we get similar treatment in lots of other restaurants in Korea. We never got that in Japan. We did for that Best Sushi in Japan place, but that was more because he was passionate about his art, rather than being kind and caring, you know? Who knows: maybe we just went to the wrong restaurants in Japan, but we remember feeling that lack of care in Tokyo restaurants.

Anyhow, that’s it for now. I’m sure some of you will mention something and we’ll be like “Oh right! Totally forgot about that!” And then we’ll copy what you said, put it in the post, and then delete your comment, like it never happened. Ha! We wouldn’t do that :D



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