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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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Korea vs Japan


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  1. In japan the food is good but it’s sooo expansive and they only give u little bit and in subway or bus stops when u ask question they say there is a map over there go look for ur self but in Korea subway and bus are so simple it say were u go and other things

    9 months ago
  2. Also kimchi taste way better in Korea

    9 months ago
  3. Hahaha, let’s talk about ajumma (older lady) in korea.

    ajumma literally means aunt in korean, as does ajussi (older gentleman) means uncle. it refers to an older lady, usually married, but not necessarily.

    an ajumma is the most beloved thing in korea, not only because she’s older, and lady, but because she carries with her special aura with her–she’s kind, she’s generous, sometimes she can be harshy, but cares about you. no wonder the word itself means aunt!

    there was a set of jokes about ajumma in korea while ago (like 10-20 years ago), which i wouldn’t go further execpt an example, mainly because i can’t remember them well, and because it would cloak the post. anyway, the idea behind it is sometimes her actions seem funny, and selfish, but her intentions are always good, and lovable. because her actions are from her love for the family. and because she’s such a harmless person, who’s physically weaker, and should save her strength to care for the family. (ex. when in a bus, when there’s empty seat, an ajumma would be the first person to catch the seat–since she has to go home, and cook and care for the family. etc.)

    korean culture is very much family-oriented. and many of you would probably know about this, but we not only call older lady ajumma (an aunt), older gentleman ajussi (an uncle), but also calls older friend either hyong (an older brother) or noona (an older sister), and younger friend dongsaeng (an younger brother or sister). also, we always call seniors either harabuji (a grandfather), or halmeoni (a grandmother).

    1 year ago
  4. Hello I usually dont bother to comment on internet but I just wanted to share my personal (opinion dont get me wrong ^^) experience. so u guys mentioned that how couples speaking English in Korea and in Japan they speck Japanes? I think it is because like u guys mentioned most of foreign people live in Korea, they are living in Korea as English teacher thus they are usually not encourage to speck Korean and if u live in Seoul u don’t actually need to use Korean that much. in addition many Korean people see u differently if u speck English

    1 year ago
  5. Why hello there. I see you have strong feelings about Korea and Japan. However it is against our commenting guidelines to be disrespectful. Which this post obviously is. If you persist in posting disrespectful and inflammatory comments you will be banned.


    2 years ago
  6. Hmm, thanks for the information. I wonder if Korean hoe is served anywhere outside of Korea. It would be interesting to taste the difference.

    3 years ago
  7. Eri

    Maybe you mean Omotesando? It’s actually not Harajuku anymore (as harajuku itself is just actually just a part of shibuya) Close to the Harajuku station everything is mostly for teenagers, especially takeshita-dori, this is the über-hip fashion most people know and mistake for the overall japanese style. Omotesando on the other hand has many foreign high fashion brands and is very expensive but if you go to the sidestreets it’s again more of a younger harajuku vibe. And you can get your VEGGIES there!! = ) If you ever go to Tokyo again and miss your veggies: I can recommend “brown rice cafe” I love this sooo much, it’s vegetarian japanese kitchen and organic! Just opposite of brown rice cafe is also the “crayon house” which offers vegtable all you can eat! I could name some more places, but these I like the most : )

    3 years ago
  8. whenever i’m in Japan, they always start off speaking English to me, until I respond to them in Japanese.

    3 years ago
  9. “Japan has a much bigger disk culture ” they have a lot of anime dvd’s don’t they?

    I dont know about the spoken language between interratial relationships… it might be just a personal preference thing…like they’re trying to learn different languages so they agree beforehand to talk in a certain language …I don’t know :)

    I’d like to think that the reason, behind Japanese men and women dressing black and white, would be because they’re ninjas undercover and they want to stay away from the public eye as much as possible :)

    And about the Japan x Korea conflict. I think what was in the past should stay in the past. People can acknowledge it but shouldn’t feel pressured. I love both Japan and Korea.

    Awesome TLDR! ^^

    Love you guise (>*-*>)


    3 years ago
  10. third question

    3 years ago
  11. Is restaraunt service bad in Japan compared to Canada too, or just in comparison to Korea?

    3 years ago
  12. I studied abroad in Tokyo from last September to February of this year and one thing that stood out for me was how every single Japanese female wore a skirt every single day, no matter the freezing temperatures. The only exception I saw was if girls were coming from sports practice and very clearly wearing their team sweat-pants. I do not even own a skirt, so my college Japanese friends seriously approached me to express their concern over me wearing pants every day. I don’t know if it’s because these girls were trained to wear skirts every day from primary school dress codes, but from college to the workplace, when you can wear your own clothes, all the women continue to wear skirts.
    I have only been to Seoul during the summer, when it was too hot to wear pants comfortably, so I wonder what is like for the rest of the year/seasons? Anyone who can comment comparing fashion in the two places?

    3 years ago
  13. One of the major differences I noticed when I visited South Korea, if the attitude of people on the trains. In Japan we DO NO TALK ON PHONES, and definitely not in loud voices (In fact there are signs in all trains asking you to put your phone on silent and refrain from talking, if not turn it off). We generally don’t have loud conversations either. Or eat (unless it’s a shinkansen). From my visit I saw that Koreans are, in general, polite and respectful, but from a Japanese perspective I found train trips to be different to those back home. But in saying that, I totally agree with you two about the actual train system: WHY CAN’T ALL THE STATIONS BE AS EASY TO WORK OUT AS THEY ARE IN KOREA??!!

    3 years ago
  14. Funny you’d mention sushi, cause it’s like the opposite situation with my Mom. She hates sushi in America because they are just mushy pieces of blandness to her. Good sushi/sashimi, for her, needs to be fresh and firm that requires good amount of chewing. I guess that’s preference shared by most Koreans, so that’s why all the sushi places in Korea are like that, different from sushi places in other parts of world run by Korean people.

    3 years ago
  15. Simon and Martina did not compare which country was better than the other. They were comparing about how things are different in each of the countries. They love both Korea and Japan. In fact, they have talked about wanting to move to Japan and start Eat Your Sushi. But yes, I agree with you that it can get very annoying and frustrating when people want to debate or discuss two or more countries and talk about which one is better. But this is not what Simon and Martina did in this TL;DR.

    3 years ago
    • I think they want to eventually do both. I think whenever they do Eat Your Sushi, they will still keep doing Eat Your Kimchi too.

      3 years ago
  16. When I was in Japan, I was talking to a Japanese guy who went to college in Korea, and I talked about wanting to go to Korea. These are the things he told me about Korea. He told me that the food was very spicy so I had to be careful. He said that in Korea, everyone is in a rush and is telling you to hurry, but they often show up late. And he talked about how they add ‘ya’ to the end of people’s names. When I went to Korea, I realized that the food was spicier than Japan’s, people were rushing around much more than Japan, but yes still did manage to keep us waiting. I guess he was right :)

    3 years ago
  17. Isn’t the “men don’t cry” the very same reason why they cry in dramas or concerts? It heightens the climax and I feel for a lack of sleep highly stressed young idol in a concert would feel teary after a sudden difference in burdens. That and fan service. Hmm.. my point is it’s not that the men have different sensitivity.. or something.. But what the public finds ok. Real tears.. is a very manly thing.

    3 years ago
  18. LOL did Simon just say ” I achurry ” ?

    3 years ago
  19. You guys should definitely check out other areas of Japan–Tokyo is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world and is really quite different from the rest of Japan. Outside of Tokyo you see fewer foreigners and I feel that people (in the Kansai region especially) were also much warmer. I lived in Kyoto last year and spent some time in Osaka and Kobe. It’s vastly different! Tokyo seems to exist in its own bubble.

    3 years ago
  20. Hmm. I was wary when I saw the title, but after watching the video and reading the blog, I’d say you handled the topic really well. I can’t speak for the Korean aspects, but I found myself nodding along with most of the things you observed about Japan.
    Also, I can get really sensitive and defensive when it comes to anything Japanese, but you didn’t set off any alarm bells, so I doubt you’d offend anyone from that side.

    Good job!! ^^b

    3 years ago
  21. Because they live in Korea and have been for five years and have been to Japan two times. Eat Your Kimchi is about Simon and Martina’s experiences being in Korea. Their videos have helped other foreigners, even k-pop stars, who have come to Korea to live or visit.

    3 years ago
  22. You guys are so brave…seriously. I don’t think I would have the guts to bring up Korea and Japan in the same youtube video. More power to you!

    There are just a few things that I want to comment on based on my experience living in Japan for 3+ years and living in Tokyo and beyond.

    1.) The subway/train system.

    I can see your point about how it’s nicer that the Seoul subway system is managed by one group and so it’s easier to get around and about in Seoul. Tokyo and the mutant spider web that is the subway system is pretty complicated and that’s usually why most people I know take the above ground trains. I really only used the subway maybe four times the two years I lived in Tokyo. I stayed mostly on the Yamanote line and a few of the private train lines. And of course always use Hyperdia. Hyperdia is your friend and saves you from having to use a subway/train map which is ridiculously complicated even when it’s in english. It really takes about six months before you’ve got Tokyo’s transit in your head. Y’all might want to look into getting a suica card next time you’re here.

    2.) Pornos.

    While I completely agree that the amount of pornography available to the average individual on the street (and visible by minors) is ridiculous in comparison to the west and Korea, I would like to point out that you were staying in Akihabara which is pretty much the pornos center of Tokyo and Japan at large. True there are also many things available in Akihabara to the average nerd on the street (Models, video games, maid cafes and butler cafes) but there’s no where near the same amount of porn out in the open in say, Harajuku or Meguro or Shinbashi, etc… Y’all were kind of staying in Pornos city if you catch my drift.

    3.) Speaking Japanese….

    I’m going to be brutally honest here, the Japanese are terrified of doing something, anything wrong. They will freeze in place, petrified at the thought of making a mistake and so that’s why a lot of them simply won’t speak english, even if they know it and they’re quite good at it. They are afraid a foreigner will correct them and thus embarrass them. (You know because when someone makes a mistake in English we all Hulk out and destroy property and egos.) It’s a big deal and as a teacher it’s something I deal with on a frustrating daily basis. I can’t managed to coherently form a sentence more complicated than “I like chocolate” but because I don’t have that crippling cultural fear of making a mistake I happily blather on at my students like a drunk six year old. So that’s why a lot of foreigners speak japanese to their japanese friends ad co-workers because we can’t get them to speak english to us! *HULKS OUT* Not without copious amounts of beer and then really, everybody is speaking the universal language of booze.

    4.) Veggies

    Japanese cooking has a strong emphasis on seasonal foods so you’ll often find that restaurants will change their meu based on what’s in season. So since you came to Tokyo in February a lot of the veggies in season are root vegetables and previous veggies made into pickles. Fresh side veggies isn’t really a japanese thing unless you count shredded diakon with your sashimi. They like to boil, pickle and saute their veggies or slice them up and serve them in a weird salad. If you really want veggies then your best bet is to order a salad or look specifically for a vegetarian/vegan/Shoujin ryouri place. Summer is a different story but sadly, you guys were here in February. Which doesn’t even have cool treats like Sakura mochi.

    I hope I haven’t offended you or anyone else and I do hope you will come back to Japan and get a chance to visit Osaka, Kyoto, etc… They’re beautiful and a complete differently experience from Tokyo.

    3 years ago
  23. Well more than tv vs reality, it depends on what part of the country you’re in as well.
    I lived in the southeastern province of Korea and apparently men there are know to be more rough, less emotional, men of few words, and generally perceived as more “manly”
    But then again, that applied to the girls as well. It was kind of a joke that Seoul girls want a southern guy and all guys like Seoul girl.. opps getting off topic.
    But w/the men crying, apparently it’s really attractive to Japanese girls b/c they feel Korean guys are easier to talk to. Just what people have told me over the years. Haven’t really seen this in person so don’t know how valid it is.

    3 years ago
  24. Kk

    Looking snazzy, Simon!

    3 years ago
  25. Hi Simon and Martina; I love your TL:DRs its what got me into you guys in the first place :D Just a tip maybe it’s best to choose your title better if you don’t want it to sound so antagonistic? e.g. Differences between Japan and Korea or Our experiences of Japan vs Korea communicates the topic more clearly to me. That title stokes the fire unnecessarily when it wasn’t meant to invite conflict remember it is a sensitive issue and does put people on the backfoot.

    3 years ago
    • I agree with you there :/
      When I saw the title, without even watching the video or reading the blog post, I had a big sense of dread in the pit of my stomach :(

      3 years ago
      • Thanks fuuko (Annalita?) BTW I’m an Aussie too from Melbourne :) yeah hopefully people will view the video and read the blog to get a better understanding!

        3 years ago
        • Annalita = An(derse)n(L)alita :D

          Melbourne > Sydney *runs away*

          3 years ago
  26. I reaaaally enjoyed this post! since i live in Japan and all ^_-

    the flyer thing does exist in Japan, but it’s much different, and i’m pretty sure not illegal (if equally annoying…) people will usually stand outside of train stations and hand out either flyers, or tissue papers with advertisements on them. in the summer, the often hand out “uchiwa”s (big round plastic hand fans) with advertisements on them. the thing is, the fans and tissues are a good idea, but a) there’s only so many you can take and b) it’s really not gonna make me go to your store/restaurant/etc. also, at my station, it’s always the same 3 people advertising the same 3 shops. it’s like dude, you see me and try to give me a flyer every single day and i’ve lived here for a year and still not been to your hair salon. get a clue!!

    i’ll cook you veggies next time you come!!!! or better yet, i’ll take you to this organic food restaurant near my house! (lol… since i’m not an amazing cook, eheh…)

    it’s really cool to hear that the little worker bees in korea like to dress up!! yeah, in japan, there’s a reason they’re called “salaryman” and they all look the same – as they should (according to japanese mentality). do you know the japanese proverb “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down”? that explains a lot.

    about the language stuff… i think the reason for the difference is that (forgive me for saying) Japanese people really suck at english. when they can, they’ll speak to you in english, but it’s not a great percentage of the population that can, but they’re usually pretty eager to speak english and it often happens that you’ll meet a stubborn person who tries to express themselves in broken english, even though your japanese is blatantly much better. also (and this kinda makes me laugh) i can’t tell you how often i’ve had someone bump into to me and then eagerly say “sorry!” and walk away looking so proud that they’d spoken english to the foreigner. lol

    but yeah, i do think that a lot of things that you noticed are because you were in Tokyo… outside in the boonies, it’s a lot different and much less “multicultural”, if you will.

    3 years ago
  27. A possible reason for the interracial relationships speaking Japanese is maybe it is an easier language to speak? It might just be me and maybe not the same for non-english speakers, but (since I’m trying to learn both languages at the same time) I find that I pick up on speaking Japanese a lot quicker. I feel like for Korean there are more sounds that are difficult for my mouth to shape and make sounds right.
    Overall wonderful TL;DR!

    3 years ago
  28. Simon and Martina, about the speaking the Native Language, I believe you are right. I am half Japanese and half American, and when I went there last summer NO ONE would talk to me because I looked American and that I was a bit taller than some people. During the trip, many people would bump into me and would just say “sorry or gomennasai” and just walk away. If you go to Harajuku, there are more people who are interested in foreigners. When I saw a group of girls in awesome colorful costumes, a cameraman walks up to me and asks in English what I think about this group of girls. He was surprised that I spoke Japanese to him. Harajuku shops (to me at least, this doesn’t mean it’s a fact) they are more open minded. They gave me discounts on clothes and accessories when they found out I lived in America, but that could just be me. It does seem that no one talks to you unless you have a Japanese friend or relative that speaks out toward people. This is what I experienced from my 3 months.
    About the restaurants, you maybe be right about that too. It seems like the the waiters or the chefs, aren’t to talkative to their customers. I noticed in restaurants where they have less people, (like this one restaurant in this subway) the people were very kind. The people in the stores like seven-eleven or sankusu, the people are very kind. But it could be because I had my elder grandmother that was born and raised in Japan. I guess it all depends on who you are with. I don’t know, I could be wrong. But it does seem like the chefs and waiters are quick in taking in orders and making the food. I hope this helps!
    PS: Next time when you go to Japan, you should go to Mister Donuts!!

    3 years ago
  29. It’s creepy ass “Sea Cucumbers”.

    3 years ago
  30. I understand what you’re saying. The very masculine male figure holds a high place in Latin American culture. The definition of machismo is “exaggerated masculinity”. Exaggerated, as in over the top. Obviously you don’t mean every Mexican man is super macho, you’re just speaking about general cultural references.
    As for Korea, I wouldn’t make any generalizations about Korean men from Korean dramas because dramas are designed to appeal to female fantasy. The guys are doing things that women WANT to see, because they don’t usually see it. Telenovelas work the exact same way. Romantic comedies work the same way.
    What I do think you can take away from dramas (and telenovelas), and the pop culture of any country, is a sense of what a country or culture values.

    3 years ago
    • I agree that one should not make generalizations about a country from its media and assumed that was why the person asked the question in the first place. I too have been wanting to know if normal everyday Korean men are generally more expressive with their emotions then lets say normal everyday American men.

      Although the media, as said before, is not an accurate representation of a country and its society; it can give clues to its social norms since media ultimately helps shape social norms. I do disagree with your statement that Korean dramas are designed for the female fantasy. While yes some of the dramas most likely have a larger female audience, many are on major networks that both sexes watch and therefore contain elements that pertain to both females and males.

      3 years ago
  31. I’m living near Tokyo with my Japanese husband and we visited Seoul over New Year’s.

    About international couples speaking Japanese: Maybe there are more in Korea, but I’ve met tons of guys (it’s ALWAYS guys) from English-speaking countries who have been living in Japan for years and don’t speak the language. Here, if you don’t speak English and it gets a bit more complicated, people will sometimes just ignore you or tell you they can’t service you.

    When we went to Korea, everyone would just speak to me in Korean (after trying to speak to my husband, who does not speak a word of the language), and I actually thought that was pretty cool. As said, in Japan, even if you just look foreign, you’ll see the panic rise up inside shop staff in the eye of “OMG I’LL HAVE TO ENGLISH!”, and they’ll try to not serve you at all apart from paying, while being absolutely obnoxious if you are or speak Japanese.

    Tokyo’s public traffic system is confusing when you’re not used to it (and it’s freaking expensive), but in Seoul we often had to walk forever to just switch plattforms. Next time, try Hyperdia.com, you just have to input where you are and where you want to go and it tells you how to get there, the site supports English.
    And yes, taxis are expensive. From the train station to our home, a distance which takes 12 minutes to walk, you pay almost 1,000Yen (almost 12,000Won). In Seoul (and even moreso in Taipei), we would just use taxis when we couldn’t be bothered to walk, and while the driving might be crazy, it’s just soo much cheaper.

    The suits are a bit special, my husband has to wear one too and has given me some insight. It breaks down like this, basically:
    Fancy shoes (especially patterns) -> shop staff
    non-black suit, young -> shop staff, non-office job
    non-black suit, older -> higher position inside the company, my FIL wears pinstripe suits and coloured shirts and he’s almost as high up as it goes, if my husband did the same thing, he’d be in trouble
    Women in suits -> shop staff, job-hunting or in their first years of work, otherwise they change to something a bit prettier.

    With Japan many people think it’s very individualistic, in large part because of the Harajuku girls, but they’re not really seen as role-models, as smart or as having potential, especially if they are above a certain age (22, when most people finish university). When talking about it with Japanese people, their main response is “They should just grow up.” Japan is a very sad country when it comes to expressing individuality through appearance. Germany, where I’m originally from, might not be as colourful when it comes to clothing and styles, but I feel there’s more acceptance towards people who don’t adhere to the norm.

    3 years ago
  32. Simon: ” i just want to know who runs the inflatable, obnoxious thing industry in Korea because they are freaking loaded. Everybody is buying it from them”
    Me: *shouts at screen* “BROHOHOHO?!”

    3 years ago
  33. 6 years in Japan (western Tokyo mostly) and 9 in Korea (Gunsan and Seoul), this pretty much what I saw. Tokyo is definitely more expensive, yet Korea feels like capitalism rum amok at times. In Korea, a clothing shop will close and after a day remodel a restaurant would open, while Japan is more stable. I’ll take driving in Japan over Korea any day, wrong side of the road and all!

    3 years ago
  34. Ren

    If Korea doesn’t have DVDs, then what DOES it have?

    3 years ago
    • everyone shops online! there are even online rental shops. So offline shops are difficult to keep up.

      3 years ago
      • Ren

        Oh, right, duh >_<; …I guess in America, it's kinda divided evenly. DVDs are bought, not rented; renting and buying can be done online or via cable service (like OnDemand).

        3 years ago
  35. Simon and Martina, those black suits with white shirts tend to be the “uniform” of the job hunting ones, or the newly hired. Those who have had a job for a little while start to develop their work attire to sorta conform to whatever job they have…

    3 years ago
  36. I just want to make a quick comment about the portion in the blog post about interracial relationships in Japan vs Korea. I recently met up with a Japanese friend of mine who was visiting the US with her American boyfriend who started out teaching English in Japan, but he’s doing something else now. Anyways, I did find it interesting that he’s trying to help her learn English better, but in their side conversations to each other when they were trying to decide how to reply to something I said, they were speaking purely in Japanese. Of course, I don’t know how much of either language they use when it’s just the two of them, but I did find it interesting that they were kind of teaching each other, while falling back on Japanese when they needed to.

    3 years ago
  37. Hi guys! I know this question is controversial but I’m really curious and like hearing different perspectives. I live in the states and I recently did an English paper on healthcare in different countries based on the documentary Sicko. I saw that in Canada they have universal healthcare and I was wondering if it is the same in Korea. I know Martina broke her ankle a while back and I was wondering if she had any problems getting treated because she was a foreigner, or if you had problems getting healthcare if you have it. Sorry if this is a bad question. Thanks! MB.

    3 years ago
  38. I have to disagree with your comment on restaurant service in Japan. But I’m going to have to preface this by saying I speak japanese. I think, unless you make a conscious effort in Japan to talk to the locals, they are not just going to come out and start a conversation. Many of them don’t feel confident speaking in English, so unless they think you speak japanese, they’ll pretty much leave you alone.

    However, I have had many wonderful conversations with locals. When I lived in mitaka ( close to downtown Tokyo) I used to frequent a city called kichijoji. There is a tea shop there, and one day I took my friend who is a big tea enthusiast there to see it. While we were looking at the counter displays for tea( and talking in Japanese) a nice older lady came up to us and started talking, telling us how to select the best ones. She told us we need to eat the dry tea leaves, and then had the attendant pull some out while she critiqued them with us.

    Another time in kurama ( a small town an hour out of Kyoto) me and my friend stopped at a family run traditional japanese restaurant. It was the summer time, and they had the best umeshu! As we were leaving we got into a long discussion about how they make everything from scratch, and they were very friendly and open with us.

    There are many more examples, but the point I’m trying to make is that I think you have to be a little more proactive in showing your love for their culture. I’ve been to both korea and Japan many times, and I actually get the opposite feeling of what you wrote above. But I know it’s not because Koreans are inhospitable , but because my skills in the Korean language aren’t good enough to have that interaction with them. I don’t know if I said that very well, but that’s just my two cents

    3 years ago
    • Ah, your observations about the knowledge of the language ( and culture too) makes a lot of sense.

      3 years ago
  39. Idk why, but there are so few Japanese people here in the US, like in schools and stores you see Koreans, and Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Philipino, etc, but not Japanese, unless is someone mixed, so here too, to the sushi places I’ve been to I hear them speaking and i’m like “ohh Korean” >.<

    3 years ago