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Korean Products We Can’t Live Without

February 10, 2012

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Woohoo! This week’s topic comes from angelicad7 from Chicago, who asks

Is there a Korean product(s) you cannot live without and thought “Why wasn’t this introduced back home?”

Yay! Easy topic! We barely had to put any thought into this one. With the more serious topics, like the ones on Homosexuality in Korea or Bullying in Korean Schools, we really have to reflect for a long time about what we’re going to say. But, with this week’s topic, we felt like PFFT! Just turn on the camera and we’ll start yammering.

Seriously, Korea’s a really freaking cool country when it comes to technology. And we’re technology nerds, so this makes us very happy. Yes, we’re Apple fans as well, and – yes – Korea isn’t very Apple friendly, though it’s gotten a lot better since we got here with many more Apple retailers popping up. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if we own any Samsung products here in Korea. Note to potential Samsung Marketing People reading this blog: send us Samsung stuff. Also, don’t read the next sentence. Actually, we just remembered that our TV is Samsung. Nevermind!

Anyhow, the amount of technology here, and the connectivity of Korea is just overwhelmingly awesome. We mentioned a few of our favourite things in this video, but that’s just scraping the surface. Other awesomeness includes:

1) GPS in every car: It doesn’t come built in, but every car we’ve been in has a GPS monitor thingy on the dashboard. It gives you full directions, monitors your speed and lets you know if you’re going over the speed limit for that road, automatically detects if you’ve gone off course and tells you where to turn instead, blinks and flashes and makes noise if your turn is coming up. Oh, and it plays TV for you as well. Watch the game while you’re driving. No joke. These things should probably be illegal, but aren’t, probably because they’re so awesome.

2) Kickass Cellphone Signal: I have never dropped a call in Korea. NEVER. Rarely ever does the signal go fuzzy. Seriously. Even when we’re on the subway, UNDERGROUND. Do you hear that, Torontonians? We can use our cellphones when we’re on the subway, even if we’re at the bottom of a transfer point, with two other subway lines above us. We never lose signal. Not even a freaking blip. Oh, and people can watch TV on their phones as well. Holy crap-your-pants awesome

3) Robo Vacuums: We don’t have one yet, but we want one. I remember watching the CES this year, and seeing a video about a Samsung vacuum that has a camera built into it, so that it maps your ceiling and knows where it’s going. The video was all like “oooh this is awesome and the future” bla bla blah. Went to the Home Plus nearby the next day and saw it on sale. Old news here, boys and girls. Old news.

4) Bidets: Not a fan of them, personally. Don’t want water spraying up my bum hole. But we’ve seen tons of them here, even in public restrooms. TOILET TECHNOLOGY!

5) Motion Sensor Escalators: Haven’t seen these until we came to Korea. A lot of escalators have motion detectors. They turn off if no-one’s on them. If you’re about to get on one and it’s turned off, you pass a motion-sensor thingy that tells the escalator to turn on. FREAKING BRILLIANT!

6) Elevator Buttons that Turn Off: How is this not a standard around the world? Push a button on the elevator by accident? TURN IT OFF! Doesn’t this just make sense? Hell!

Ok that’s it. Maybe there’s more but we can’t think of it right now. I’m sure the question was expecting an answer more along the lines of what we showed in our Wonderful Treasure Finds series, but we never got the chance to gush about Korean technology. Not sure why Korea doesn’t promote that more. Korea Tourism seems to be all about “Come look at our mountains and temples and history and old traditions and stuff.” Forget that. I want to live in the future, and Korea’s offering me the closest chance at that.

Yeah! Also, there was a long scene that we found hilarious, but too long, and too irrelevant to include in the final cut. We present it to you here: here we are trying to call the cops…on each other.

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Korean Products We Can’t Live Without

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  1. What are your favorite Korean Variety shows?

    7 years ago
  2. Where did you buy your egg? Do you have to have a contract with a company?

    6 years ago
  3. Yeah, I’m a big fan of the bank card capabilities.  For some of the stuff here in Korea, I can’t imagine why we don’t have some of that stuff back in the US.
    Also, I did a internet speed test of my broadband here and showed my tech-geek friends; they were super jealous.  And yes, South Korea officially has the world’s fastest internet.  I won’t be able to get over that if/when I move back to the US.

    Does anybody know how to get the 4G Egg and how to add it onto your current phone plan in South Korea?  I really want one so I can FaceTime with my friends and family when I’m out in the middle of East Field Jesus Nowhere.

    8 years ago
  4. Here in Brazil (aside of what I’ve already replied to someone xD) I can talk on the subway (actually, it depends on which company you use), BUT sometimes I’m home and it goes fuzzy FUUU

    8 years ago
  5. When I was in Japan they had most of this stuff….except for the EGG!!! That would have been so friggin helpful!!! They have no wifi in Starbucks unless you are a Softbank customer….grrr…..on another note the bidets scared me….o-O….honestly though the waitress/waiter thing was the best thing ever….I could just sit back and chill and not have any annoying person come over and ask me crap while I had food in my mouth….beautiful….

    8 years ago
  6. I like the table bells, but my experience over the past 3 months here never had the waiter leave you alone waiting in the back.  They often not-so-discretely watch you from a distance and snatch up your drink to refill when it falls to 1/4 full.  Great service, especially with no tip, but take some getting used to.

    8 years ago
  7. the bell thing is in quite a few restaurant in my area (korean restaurant lol)… yeah i think they brought it over from korea.

    The bank card thing, they’re working on it, there’s quite a bit of different bank in america where it’s very hard to unite them all together (I mean some place still doesn’t take certain cards, it’s pretty crazy).

    The little 4g thing, the tech savy people just use their phone and tether (that device is essentially the same thing but it’s got more output), 10 bucks a month in korea is essentially about 20 in the US since the salary is roughly 1/2 on average, which is still really good, people here pay around 20-30 for internet on their phone…

    all of which, i think the 4g device is very useful if there’s no bandwith cap (aka you don’t have to get internet for the home, just use that little suckka, 10 bucks a month is hella cheap)…

    a lot of the stuff in korea is more advance because it’s easier to run new wires and tech in a country where the area is roughly 1/100 the size of the US (your next example is japan, they’re pretty high tech too :))

    8 years ago
  8. wow, we have everything else you mentioned in Japan, but it’s my first time hearing about the “egg” thing. that’s REALLY cool!

    i loled a bit about your story of getting locked going home. my retarded technology moment is when i went home and i was standing in front of a store, waiting for the door to open, til i realized it wasn’t an automatic door… lol. in japan, there are automatic doors everywhere :p

    8 years ago
  9. I miss my PHONE~!!!
    Had a Lollipop (yes Big Bang influence my decision ^ ^)  The self activating alarm for personal defense, being able to self-call to get out of awkward situations, ability to program what time a text will be sent… and it was CUTE~~
    why can’t phones here do that?? Korea makes 1/2 our phones it seems anyways.

    8 years ago
  10. As another commenter already said, it’s very similar to Japan (and I’m pretty sure we have the egg-thingie because I think I saw advertisements for it), but sometimes, when those things aren’t there, I get really flustered. Family restaurants without a bell? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? CALL SOMEONE? I really wonder why some of these things haven’t been implemented back in Europe already…
    The thing that always gets me back in Germany is the trains. In Tokyo, the doors open automatically, in Berlin you have to press a button. I’d stand in front of it for 5 seconds, with people coming up behind me, until I’d remember to press it. Awkward.

    8 years ago
  11. Ahh.. wish we had table bells in England, the service would be a lot quicker.

    8 years ago
  12. People have probably already mentioned this, but we do have phones that people can watch TV on, and robo-vacuums.(in America at least) Robo-vacuums have been around for quite awhile, although they don’t map out your ceiling, instead they use motion-sense technology.

    On another note, I concur, Korea is very technologically advanced and amazing. But…does it have beef jerky or ranch? XD

    8 years ago
  13. The calgary airport has sensor escalators! they don’t turn off, but they go extra slow, so when you walk up to it your like “… I might miss my flight if i take that…” but then it goes normal speed when you get on! keke just noticed that the other day XD

    Dude, that is why I hate eating out, people(waitfolk) are always like “botherbotherbotherbother” and i’m just like “Can I eat my food with friends without being interrupted by strangers?!?!?”OHMYGOSH! I knew that they had that swipey technology with the phones, BUT CARDS TOO?!?!?! that is awesome.According to the UN, (S) Korea has the best internet.. IN THE WORLD!! I would totally go for the internet. My brother who is a computer dork read an article about it a couple years ago and was like “OMYGOSH I WANNA GO THERE!!” and I was like “me too”

    8 years ago
  14. That bank card is similar to the card in Hong Kong.. Whenever we take a ride in the bus we just wave it in the machine. And the card in HK is called octopus.. O.O

    8 years ago
  15. I live in Brazil and here have tables’ bell! It is so amazing no? Unlike it is in Canada, where you can die waving your hand to someone come and take your order. So the bell is something very useful.

    Btw, I didn’t get this werid key thing you talked about… 

    8 years ago
  16. A couple years ago my family and I were eating at a really nice resturant in Chicago and there were a few priviate booths that had a buzzer to get the waiter’s attention.

    8 years ago
  17. When I was in Tampa they had that bell thingy in Applebees!!

    8 years ago
  18. they have bells in America! && they now have that card swiper thing for like american express i think or some company! i’m not sure about that hotspot thing but i want one!

    What are the style trends in korea? 

    8 years ago
  19. Table Bell…AWESOME!!!  Usually when they come to the table to see how everything is…they almost ALWAYS approach while you have a full mouth!!!  HATE that.   Card Waving Payment System…I LOVE the follow-up text message.  Fabulous!

    8 years ago
  20. america sucks at using technology

    8 years ago
  21. Fastest internet in the WORLD?!?!?!?!?
    *gets on plane* SK HERE I COME!!! :D

    8 years ago
  22. OMG

    7 years ago
  23. What do Koreans think of tipping your waitress in the United States? If they have visited and experienced by eating in a restaurant here, or maybe been told by another Korean our custom how do they feel? I love the 4g box, and glad we have it here. Yep, keys should be obsolete in the 21st century. So many other alternatives. I’m sure you’ve been notified that cards now can be paid by waving over a box if you have the card capable of doing it.

    7 years ago
  24. Interesting

    7 years ago
  25. the only downside about keypad is if the electricity was ever to go out. you could not get in :-/
    Card is pretty cool.

    8 years ago
  26. basically almost every ASIAN countries have all the cool products that u mentioned… ASIAN RULES!!!! have i’m from Malaysia and we, ASIAN are so futuristics!!!

    8 years ago
  27. I’m from Montreal, and last year I went to Berlin for two weeks to study german. Guess what, the keys to my little studio were just like those awesome magnetic keys =0 It was so small I could put it in my pocket, and it was working with all three doors of the block I was living in! Omg when I came back to Canada I was so angry when I found back my stupid (yet enormous) keychain –” Soooo big, with 4 keys looking all the same, and so noisy! First reaction? : “aish chincha…”

    8 years ago
  28. Not really a product per se, but something that will be VERY hard to go back to when I return to the US next month: CHECKS (or as some people spell it, cheques).  They don’t use them here in Korea.  If you want to give someone money, you just go to your ATM and transfer money into his/her account.  You can even do it online.  How awesome is that?

    8 years ago
  29. they do have the bells in yhis koren restaurant in north America

    8 years ago
  30. *sounds of intense weeping seeping through internet* Guise……I knew you already had the fastest internet in the entire PLANET, but now you’re waving your hotspot…..egg…..*pulls mind out of gutter* and my inner evil Gremlin is coming forth. D’: COME ON AMERICA! GET WITH IT!  PLEEEEASE!!! argh. The hotspots we can get here (as far as I know) are still way to expensive for me to handle. (my sis has one….and the internet kinda sucks on it) Anyways……*offers watery congrats on your new favorite toy*

    8 years ago
  31. we have those escalator thingy’s at pearson…as for cell signals in the subway, there’s been speak of it, dunno if it’s gonna come through though

    sorry to my fellow torontonians, but seoul makes toronto look like, how do i put this lightly, a third-world city (and an overpriced one at that…got the shock of my life when i found out that it just cost me 2$ to take a bus to a city outside seoul the same distance hamilton is from TO)

    8 years ago
  32. The number keypad is in Ontario too. I’ve seen it in some houses in Ottawa. It’s awesome, the only problem is if the batteries are dead and you don’t have a key. Then it just makes a weird noise and you’re locked out. :(

    8 years ago
    • In Korea, they tell you when the battery is low and needs chaning. You are unlikely to be locked out unless you’re super lazy.

      8 years ago
      •  A little light will show up for the one I have and it goes a bit slower than usually. It’s just that we’re lazy :p We have keys now, so it’s all good.

        8 years ago
  33. they have the table bell in Gengis Khan restaurant in Markham :)

    8 years ago
  34. Then you’re lucky the waiters hover…Because here in Germany I never ever see any…If you don’t tell them what you want the minute they ask….of they go to be never seen again…-.-

    And I totaly want that internet thingy *.*…Just bought something similar, where you can put a mobil phone sim card in (or from mobile Internet thingys, like I did)…great…really awsome…untill I found out that those awfully nice (….grrr) people from vodafone charged me more because it was out of my “Home area”…What the heck?!….
    I lost all trust in the humanity of mobile phone/network operators… T.T

    8 years ago
    • Tell me about it! I’m always getting reprimanded for the way I sell phones. For me it’s common sense. Don’t sell a service someone can’t afford. Don’t leave out the devices operation details, especially when it leads to cost concerns. Be explicit in the details for return and cancellation of services. And the most important, DON’T sell the consumer a product they don’t need. Each person’s life is different and thus their needs are different as well. For me, it doesn’t do any good to sell something that will be returned or to sell through false pretenses and get a complaint. UNFORTUNATELY, the companies don’t care. If I’m not selling the most and getting the most from the customer… whether they can afford it or not, then I’m not doing my job. Likewise if I’m getting a lot of complaints or returns, I’m not doing my job. 

      There really is no happy medium for consumers or the sales representatives. We all just get screwed. 

      8 years ago
  35. We’re getting the beginnings of a universal swipe card system too! It’s called “Paypass” and so far the only machines that take paypass are the same machines that take regular credit and debit cards. They just have an extra top to recognize paypasses Probably why I’ve never seen anyone in Canada use it yet. 

    (A combined data + phone plan is about $70 here ….. on contract. And a pay-as-you-go of data transfer of 500 mbs a month for an iPad is $25.) Canada is so behind…

    I’m so jelly of your 4G egg!  How much data transfer can you get for $10 a month?

    8 years ago
  36. Table bells would be AWESOME!!!  As far as I know we don’t have those here and we do have 4G hotspots but they are like unreal to pay for! :(

    8 years ago
  37. OMG We do? Where, where? :O

    8 years ago
  38. Ugh, you’re right about the expensive hotspot devices (in the US anyway.) On a daily basis I sell Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. I also handle a crap ton of the prepaid companies. For a hotspot device on a 2yr contract it’s limited use to certain amounts of MB or GB per month and is ridiculously expensive. One of the prepaid companies offers a MiFi device also but you can get that one with unlimited data for 50$/month. Only kicker there is that after about 2-3 GB, it slows down significantly. Now here is the real drag about it where I live…. there is no 4G in my city yet. Soon, but not yet. This is what I have to deal with daily. Selling expensive devices with expensive plans to a poor city that can’t even use their “investment” to it’s full potential.  

    8 years ago
  39. The…700s!! LOL. Love you guise. <3

    8 years ago
  40. OH!!!!!!!!! is THAT the bell Key lied to Taemin about at the coffee shop?!?!!! i most definitely think it is (i think)
    excuse me but i think Key is very important!!! (sorry i had to be stupid)
    and i knew South Korea had the fastest internet in the world cos Onew said it!!! i seriously thought he was being his weird self but it’s true!!! (as you already know)

    8 years ago