Hooray! It’s time for our favourite segment of the week, TL;DRs! We love these segments. Did we ever tell you that? These are always loads of fun for us. They’ve also become our most viewed segment over the year, so it seems like you are digging it as well. Huzzah! Most of the time we get to just sit and banter with each other and be playful, and that’s loads of fun. Sometimes we tackle more serious topics, which is – at times – not loads of fun, but the discussions we get in the comment sections are great. Thank you, TL;DR watchers, for your awesome levels of engagement!

Anyhow, we usually do Korea vs _____ videos whenever we come back from traveling somewhere. We put Korea up against Japan, Australia, and Europe in previous TL;DRs. I didn’t find one on Canada yet, though I feel like almost every TL;DR is – by default – Korea vs Canada, because we mostly talk about how our experiences as Canadians differs from what we experience here in Korea.

But we’ve been in Korea for quite a while now, over 5 years. Almost 6 as of June. Our Canadian side is fading. Our memories of what things were like are a bit dated at times. So, being back in Canada for a few weeks really reminded us of what’s different between both places. Not really in depth, of course, because we’re not that in depth with Canada anymore. But, still, the differences to us are interesting to note.

Side note: we really sucked at filming this one. We forgot to check if my head fit in (which it didn’t) and we forgot to fully charge our batteries, which is why Martina’s battery died at the end of the video. Actually, that was more like the middle of the video, but we cut out the other half because Martina’s audio sucked. We had more we wanted to talk about! Like…food ordering culture! Not that big a deal, we know, but we were reminded of what it’s like to get food in Canada. You go to a burger place in Canada, for example, and you stand in front of the list of stuff you can add to the burger, like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, etc. You customize your food. You’re often asked “how would you like that” and you get to choose and dictate. Make the coffee with half syrup and soy milk.

Here in Korea, though, food customization isn’t that prevalent. Sure, it’s available in some places. They have Subway sandwiches. Coco Curry (aka CRACK COCAINE CURRY CUZ IT’S SO ADDICTIVE) lets you add this and that to the curry you get, but those are for non-Korean foods. Go to a Korean food place, and you mostly get big bowl of stuff. Eat it! It’s delicious! Which, yes, it is, but it’s not really something you customize all too much.

I’m assuming maybe because there are so many things on the menu that makes up for the lack of customization. For example: order a kimbap roll at a Kim Bap Chon Guk and you’l have 12 different rolls to choose from. Maybe in Canada it’s more like you’d order a kimbap roll, and they’d ask you how you want it. Korea has already pre-determined a lot of these options. Go to our favourite Sundubu Jjigae restaurant and you’ll see 20 different kinds to choose from. Is that lack of customization, or just a plethora of choices that compensate for the lack? I don’t know.

It’s when we try to ask the waiters for something different that we run into trouble. At our favourite burger place, if we ask for extra bacon, they look confused and have to ask the manager, and then they come back in a panic and say “that…that’ll be 500 won more,” to which we agree, of course. Or if we go to a restaurant which we know serves purple rice for some dishes and white rice for others, if we ask for the purple rice instead they’ll say “oh, that’s not for this dish.” Yes, we know, but we’d like to swap. Is that possible?

So, long story short, switching things around in Korean restaurants results in more confusion here than it does for us in Canada. There! It only took four convoluted paragraphs to somewhat explain. Yeesh!

Anyhoodledoodlepoodle: another basic difference we noticed between Toronto and Seoul – whoa! We totally appreciate the Seoul Metro as opposed to the Toronto subway system. We took the TTC in Toronto a few times, and every time we were on we were quite…umm…surprised? The floors were really dusty and dirty. Some subway stops smelled of urine. You grab a handle when you’re standing and it squeaks and screeches. The whole subway just seems really old and dusty. You so much as LOOK at a tunnel and your signal cuts out. Not so in Korea. The subway is always meticulously clean. Screens all over the subway tell you what stop is coming up next and what side the doors will open on. On the TTC, some guy on the mic goes “nfft stfftn is Lwffffndwwwnnn” and you can barely understand what he’s saying over the crackle. Hell! We were at Keele station on the weekend, stuck at the front doors of the station for 20 minutes because the machine wouldn’t accept our freaking money at all! Just kept on spitting out our $10s over and over again. And the TTC costs $3. Seoul Subway costs $1.10. Sure, Toronto has lots of reasons for it being more expensive. There are less people in Toronto than in Seoul, so that means less customers, which means less money, and upkeep is expensive, or whatever. I don’t know. There are a bagillion excuses for it. Without digging into them, you can easily say that the TTC sucks royally compared to Seoul’s subway. I can’t think of a single thing the TTC does better. Sorry people of Toronto who love your city. Toronto’s got a lot of great things going for it. Transportation isn’t one of them.

Ok! That’s it for now. If there’s anything we missed out on, we’d love to talk about it in the comment section with you all. I’m sure someone will mention something and we’ll be like “OH SNAP HOW DID WE FORGET?!?!?” Oh. One I forgot to mention: Toronto has scarier Ice Storms.

  1. Road construction is considered a season where i am. it took them like, 6 months to do one very small bridge. It’s absolute bs of how long it takes. And no slow plows? That boggles my mind *is not very cultural* They salt the roads and that just DESTROYS the underneath of your car and all of the sand and just ICK.
    My family used the subway when we went to Boston and I thought it was just amazing. What percentage of Koreans use the subway on a regular basis?

  2. are there very many homeless people in Seoul?

  3. Kiwi salad dressing aka green jolly rancher goo they slather on salads in korea

  4. This past summer I lived in Singapore for an internship. Their subways were very clean and nice, but I was so glad to come home to my city in the US because I didn’t have to rely on public transportation and could drive myself where I wanted to go. Those trains would be so crowded and hot and made me feel claustrophobic. My city doesn’t have a subway system, but I’ve been on subways in other places, more recently Japan and NYC, so those I can remember the experience of. This might sound weird to some people, but I preferred those subways over the MRT in Singapore in terms of the actual ride. Whenever the MRT stopped it was so jerky. The train would slow down and then suddenly break really hard to stop at the correct spot. For the months I was there, I never got used to it. The subways in Japan and NYC just kind of cruised to a stop? They didn’t have quite the sudden jerk at each station, which I really loved. I know for sure that the NYC trains have a conductor on board, the MRT didn’t. Maybe that’s why the stops are different? Or maybe because the MRT has to line up with doors, so they always have to stop at the same place, the other trains can be off a little.

  5. I’m in Panama right now and I love it! I’m from the US and it’s so warm here. I’ve noticed that there are bars on all the windows and doors for a house. Like everyone literally has it. The public transportation is also pretty cheap. It’s only 25 cents to go one way. Cars honk a lot, and there’s a lot of noise.

  6. On my playlist for jogging there’s always 2PM’s A.D.T.O.Y and a lot of Bilasa :D

  7. I was having a slightly shitty night (here in Toronto) because of no reason, but seeing you guys had posted a TL;DR made me SO happy!! They’re my favourite videos from you guys (I barely watch MMs these days), because they always just manage to cheer me up. <3

    What else cheers me up: Your cooking episodes! I miss your adorable kitchen and watching Martina cook! <3

  8. But….. but…. but I find Martina’s jokes funny ;n;

  9. All your videos from TL;DR, W.A.N.K, F.A.P’s really helps my Christmas 2013 Trip to Seoul..I literally try everything that u post..the food,cafes,night life,places..it’s feels like i’m doing a mission and it’s SUPER EXCITING ..Oh and i also get to drop by your Nasty Studio..I LOVE LOVE LOVE U GUISE so much (Virtual Hug) (*>o<*)

  10. hahaha love the big bang reference when you said 24/7 lol

  11. hi! Where do you ask a question for the next tldr?

  12. Have you been on the new TTC subway trains though? They’re pretty nice. The robotic lady voice announcing the stops always makes me laugh though…she emphasizes random words and just sounds like a twitchy eccentric old lady (“please stand ***CLEAR**** of doors”). The stations are usually pretty gross though…but they’re also usually pretty empty except for Union, so I guess there’s no need to keep them nice???


    okay, so to be honest, I actually quite like the TTC subway system. It’s simple and I’ll never get lost xD

    but then again I haven’t been to seoul so I guess I can’t really compare it but I HAVE been to beijing and ohmylord is it ever crowded. It is neater and cleaner but theres so many stops that I just get so confused.

  14. How about TV? Are western shows common in Korea or was it weird seeing North American tv again?

  15. what came to mind when I heard “kiwi dressing”

  16. I’m from Toronto too, living in Daejeon right now. I miss public garbage cans. I know that sounds weird but here there are hardly any garbage cans on the sidewalk and parks. There are sometimes garbage “spots” on top of residential garbage bags where other people will dump their garbage. In Toronto, there’s a garbage can every five feet! And it gives you options for waste, paper recycling, glass/plastic recycling. Here, it’s just like “Drop your garbage anywhere.”
    When I’m waiting for the traffic light near my house, these ajummas descend on me and shove restaurant flyers in my face and there’s no where for me to subtly throw them away. I end up carrying the flyers home and throwing them out there.

  17. Food custimization thing I definitely noticed.
    One thing that bugs me a lot but probably not you guys since you’ve not lived and shared a bathroom with Koreans is the lack of shower curtains. It means the entire bathroom gets wet. And so if I go to use the restroom afterwards, it means a wet toilet seat, which I really hate. I limit my spray radius of the nozzle so that the toilet and other places don’t get wet, but Koreans don’t seem to really care. (I’m not sure where they put their dry clothes to change into…). It also means the bathroom shoes get super wet too. Which means I can’t wear socks if I want to use the bathroom and somebody has just showered.
    I will say that Koreans conversely find cleaning the bathroom to be a whole lot easier in Korea. Because they can just use the shower head and spray everything down. So for Koreans that come to the US, they’re more bothered by the amount of work put into clearning the bathroom. So.. it’s give and take and just what I’m used to or not used to.

  18. MBLAQ: Smoky Squirrel
    This is what I’m now going to think when I hear that song.

  19. I’m in Toronto, and agree…the TTC SUCKS. It’s been miss-managed and under-funded for SO many years that now it’s literally falling apart….and politicians are STILL arguing about how to fix it. And it keeps getting more and more expensive, for crappier service. TTC = Take The Car (if you can afford one).

    BTW? Chemical Brothers = AMAZING work out music.

  20. There is a media blackout on TTC accidents but you learn to get to know the “codes” they use for them. “Switching trouble” is usually a jumper. “Signal Trouble” is usually a worker injured by a train, etc. etc. etc. Most delays on the line are not caused by the system itself. Did you realize that a subway driver only gets a 5 minute break every time he gets to the end of the line? It takes over an hour from end to end on the Bloor-Danforth Line or University-Spadina-Yonge line and if you’re running late due to lots of passengers (taking longer than average to load/unload)? Sorry, no pee break for you unless you turn off the train and take one anyways. The TTC also seems to think that it’s funny to schedule track maintenance during rush hour.

  21. I’m from Vancouver and our subway system sucks majorly. The exec, not sure how much drugs he was on, thought not having turnstiles and having the honor method of paying. Our subway system was built in like the 80s. What sane human does the honor system??
    To combat this, they have all these transit police to fine people for not paying their fare. Problem is you get like 5 cops at 1 stop, and like 0 at the next. INEFFECTIVE. They are putting in the tap card method and turnstiles now, BUT STILL. Every year or so the company complains that they are losing money. Gee I wonder why…

    I’ve gone to Hong Kong a couple of times and the only things that I dislike is the lack of personal space.

    • BC Rail (or whatever it is called now) is losing money for sure, but, like most transit systems, it’s never from fare fraud, they just use it as an excuse to raise prices, the real losses are behind the scenes. Like…….every time the Vancouver Skytrain broke down, they had to rent a helicopter and pilot to put a train driver into the front car via winch to get the train into the next station. Yep, too cheap to pay for walkways along the elevated track and the doors are over the track edge. That’s some hazard pay boyos. Also, in order to get the airport extension in time for the last winter Olympics, things got way more costly than planned (or than advertised, which ever way you want to look at it). Additionally – maintenance. I’ve worked on other lines by the same company and the maintenance is almost non-existant, they don’t know what they’re doing, staff turnover is high, they cheap out on training, and then wonder why things get broken – I can’t believe that Skytrain is run any differently.

      Funny thing, most of the HK trains are built by some of the same companies.

  22. Now I remember why Simon and Martina are amazing.
    I had such a mentally straining day today, 2 hours of Chinese class, three hours of translation homework and another two hours of film translation/subtitling class, no real break. Staring at a screen all day, racking my brain over linguistic and software problems, having to pay attention to tiny details. I felt so drained and frustrated around 3pm, so I took a short break, logged on facebook and saw S&M posted a new video. I started watching it and after one minute I’d forgotten everything else, I was laughing, or rather trying to giggle silently to not disturb the other people in the phonetics lab and I could feel myself getting relaxed and happy. Simon and Martina are like energy drinks for the soul or something. How do they do it?

  23. When we visited Niagra last summer, I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the bathrooms. My hubby thought I was silly because I kept commenting on excellent Canadian hygiene. But it was so much better that any state we drove through from Indiana to Niagra. I also liked how polite and multicultural it was there. The only problem we had was traffic from Niagra to Toronto…all the construction and confusion of a big city. Now if I can only convince him to get on a plan to visit Korea!

  24. I’m so happy I get new videos almost daily now! Yay.

  25. Some how I pictured “Smokey the Squirrel” with a cigarette hanging out his mouth!!!!! LOL

  26. Where I live in Michigan the streets are similar. I think it has to do with the semis and other big trucks rolling over it, the streets take a lot of abuse. Then little holes form, water gets in there and it turns to ice and expands leaving potholes the size of your head all over the roads. They used to to take forever to fix the potholes but after this year “winter vortex” we had one warming up day and the potholes were massive. So many people got blown tires and front end damage to their cars because of it that the state agreed to cover them for their damages (for the first time in history). Needless to say all of the potholes were fixed the next day to avoid any more damages.

  27. Totally agree with what you guys said about construction in Toronto. There will be a sign saying a building, plaza, etc. is “coming soon”, but really that means 3 years or so. Even now near my house theres some new plaza that is going to be built, but who knows how long that will take! Damages is the same. There are so many roads that are bumpy and unpleasant to drive over. I don’t take the subway often, but when I take the YRT the state the buses are in is disgusting. Dirty, dusty, smelly, and the rides are uncomfortable too. The Vivas are pretty good, but the YRT buses are in need of an update for sure. Im sorry you guys came around the snow storm and you will be lucky to hear that you have missed yet another terrible snowstorm going on today too! The roads are so bad that my exams were cancelled today… Great video guys! We love your TDLR’s so please continue making them!! Here are some pictures (not great pictures, sorry its too cold to go outside today!) of the snow storm happening:

  28. So many new videos! Wait its just three was I withdrawing that bad? The only thing that made it bearable was getting sort of aye girled at the U KISS concert in San Francisco! I know they were sort of trolled in to it but still it counts, and i saw Kevin giggle cause of it! Anywho I missed you guys welcome back!

  29. Food customization: Every time I go to my favorite Korean restaurant here in town the owner always give me the oddest stare when I request no cucumber in my bibimbap. I do it every time but she always seems so shocked by the request. I have no choice, I’m allergic to it but knowing it isn’t customary to make customized requests in Korea, I can understand her gaze at me each time. Lately I’m starting to think she is now just teasing me. :)

    It’s really wonderful to have you guys back. I’ve missed your shenanigans.

  30. TLDR’s are my favorite too!!!! So nice to see you guys again!

  31. i live in singapore and i’m getting sick and tired of the subway system. for the past 3 years the number of times the subway breaks down has increased exponentially. from 2 times in 2011 to 3 times in 2012 to 8 times in 2013 and now 4 times in just January this year.

    authorities keep assuring us that our subway system is at first world standard and other countries has it worse than us. so simon and martina, does korea or canada’s subway system breaks down so often like ours do? i really need to know.

  32. Interesting TL;DR, though you only really talked about 2 differences: gyms and city maintenance, not that I mind, but since you may do another of these, you may want to be more specific in the title. Simon’s cropped head made me want to hunch down as I watched, as if I could make him fit better in the shot by doing so – LOL! I’m not sure how long ago you shot this, but this, and the last couple of videos, it’s like you can’t speak fast enough to get all your thoughts out (maybe from video-making withdrawal? ;) ), so sometimes the words are a little blurred together – you need to slow it down a little…..just a little…..’kay? And spellcheck.

    Keele Station – oh how that station burns my britches! The station entry from the parking lot is always riddled with technical problems, ALWAYS! For as long as I can remember (like over 13 years!)! Weirdly enough, even Jane Station is much better-maintained. I don’t know why, must be some culture around that station.

    As for the differences between the Seoul and Toronto subways well……I’ve been in the train industry so I can offer a little insight on that one.

    1. TTC is O-L-D! Most of it was built 80- 50 years ago. And the city is too cheap to ever upgrade it much. If you’ve ever been to NYC, it’s subways are even older (over 110 years old) and they are even skankier in general. It’s mostly the age. If it ain’t broke, don’t repair or replace it. If you’ve been on the Montreal Metro (still old but much MUCH nicer) or the Vancouver Skytrain (totally hi-tech), you’d be more impressed with subways in Canada. I haven’t been on the one in Calgary, but it looks nice too. Even the newer little monorail at Pearson Airport in Toronto is very nice compared to TTC.
    2. Realtors. Most of the city councils in Canada seem to be run by realtors, or people in the realtor/developer pocket. If it isn’t NIMBY, it’s that the realtors enjoy high housing prices due to scarcity. It’s extremely political as to where/when/how much a new subway line will cost. Subways and transit are paid for by governments, the Seoul government likely has a heavier hand in controlling its budget and they also have different, more future-thinking goals than the Toronto council.

    3. Safety/Engineering. All the levels of design and construction have to go through many levels of safety and engineering checks. A subway is an incredibly complicated system. But……to give a real-life example. Back in 1991, when I worked as a student at TTC, all the design and contruction drawing for the Sheppard Subway line were completed. The entire line, all the way to York U……you wait long enough, and contruction safety codes change, you have to redo the work. You wait long enough, other buildings and infrastructure gets erroneously approved and is now in your way, you have to redo the work. Plus, the oil lobby will do anything it can to slow down projects that take cars off the road. Seriously, that’s why we’re in the gridlock that we are now.

    4. Worker safety. While S. Korea is certainly a better work environment than China, it’s still far shorter on worker safety. I can’t speak to the specifics in Korea but in China they truck in poor farmers who LIVE in the tunnels while they contruct them. Sleep on the floor, cook over a fire, poop in the tunnels, etc. etc., without any safety gear, training, or checks. Contruction is super fast, but it’s slave labour. You’ll have to tell me how Korean contruction holds up, I know that the EYK studio leaked at one point, but do you get the feeling that it was well-contructed? Everything in China looked great – from a distance. Up close, everything just didn’t fit quite right and looked sloppy, I was afraid to know what it looked like behind the walls where the important stuff it.
    5. Technology. Have you ever looked into the front car of the trains in Seoul? Is there actually a driver there? Most of the time, there is not, because the trains are run on a computer-controlled system. Drivers cause 99% of train accidents, take them out of the equation, and things are automatically safer (and cheaper – in the long run).
    6. I don’t think that Canadian unions are a big influence on transit per se. Most of the time the bottlenecks are loooooong before actual workers get to work. However, North America pays pretty poorly for train/bus drivers (sometimes minimum wage or only slightly higher, especially for new hires minus union dues). And the shifts are very difficult (7am-10am then 3pm-7pm: harder than just 8 hour working day). I suspect that S. Korea has a much more common sense schedule and pay commeasurate with the job that helps to keep everyone working honestly.

    For the fast food, I think that your observations are right: the choices are there in both, just presented differently.

    • WRT #4: One of the most common Josunjok(ethnic Koreans of Chinese nationality) job is low skill labor at construction sites. Their presence keep construction labor cost in check. But they would rather work in SK than in China.

      As for the building safety, look up Sampoong Department Store. After that little accident, there was another construction boom in Korea and Seoul was like re-built once again, which is like 3rd time in 60 years. I don’t think there’s much concern for new buildings tall(7 stories or higher). But I heard small buildings were excepted from newer more strict regulations….

  33. I remember in your earlier videos you two would say the good “Eh” from time to time and now…… i don’t hear it anymore T_T *sniff*

  34. OMG! Have you guise seen the recent video of Schwarzenegger in disguise at the gym? It’s so good!


  35. During the summer I travelled from Toronto and stayed in Seoul for a month. I essentially marathoned your TL;DR videos before going, which was extremely helpful as I learned a lot about Korea & Korean culture before I got there. It was exciting seeing things you guys had mentioned, and getting the chance to experience them first hand. Thank you so much!! ESPECIALLY for your post about getting sick/health care in Korea. During my last week there, I caught a cold and coincidentally you had just posted a TL;DR about how to get medicine and what kind they offer. THIS WAS SO HELPFUL, and you saved me from wasting the rest of my trip stuck on couch/feeling like death. (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I WANTED TO HUG YOU BOTH IN THAT MOMENT.)

    Staying in Seoul for a month was so fantastic, and since returning to Toronto, I’ve been dying to go back. People there were so incredibly friendly and really appreciated that I made an effort to try and speak korean (hello and thank you were the only words I knew). On my way to Incheon, a lady stopped to help me carry my heavy suitcase up a huge flight of stairs in the subway. Literally a couple minutes later, this old Korean man helped me bring my suitcases onto the subway and helped me make sure I knew the right route to take & which lines to switch to get to Incheon. I’ve lived in Toronto my entire life, and never have I encountered so many friendly and helpful people as I did in Korea. I could list a billion more reasons about what I loved and why I’d love to go back, but then this post would be way too long. Just wanted to say thanks again for all of your help, tips, suggestions, and cultural knowledge that helped me during my trip!!

  36. yes simon!!! T^T i love your weirdness~ and i agree to 2pm a.d.t.o.y~ :3 love it~
    always with the war ~ XDD that reminds me of edward and jocob ! LOL!!! OTL!!!

  37. i haven’t been to korea but i can relate with the temperature control within the schools. in most australian schools are not one whole building but several on a large piece of land so there is basically no hall way in schools once you get out of the class room its basically so cold or too hot for you to handle. I went to a public school and basically we had air conditioners but apparently they were only for display and we only used the fans which basically circulated the heat.

  38. The thing I always miss whenever I’m not back home in Norway is the taste of the tap water. You don’t need to buy water in Norway, ’cause it’s so good from the tap! So I never get used to the taste of it other countries. But whenever I come back from somewhere, I realize how RUDE Norwegians are. They never apologize for bumping into you, they have no respect for lining up before the bus, and they never say thank you if you hold the door open for them. I hate it! I especially notice it after I’ve been in London (my stepfather is english). I’m pretty sure the list will get quite long when I’m moving to Korea in March :O

    • Koreans don’t apologize when they bump into each other. So as far as that’s concerned, you should feel at home :)

    • In some places it isn’t even a good idea to drink from the tap. When I visit Mexico the first thing we stock up on is bottled water.My family there are used to it, but if I drink it I can easily get sick.

      • That is true! Bodies can adapt to a lot after a while, but I can imagine my snobby tummy not handling too well a lot of water in other countries. I also remember when I lived in Belgium for 6 months my hair got really dry and bad because of the water quality from the old pipes. Did not drink that either. At least I know not to drink the water in Korea – it seems like they even use bottled water for boiling rice!

    • same here…. I’m living in London and omg, people r so polite. If u bump into someone they will say sorry, even though it wasn’t their fault… In my country, Brazil, it would never EVAR happen….
      I wonder how is it like in Korea?

  39. You love doing your TL;DRs. I love watching them. ^^

  40. Had a great time at the meet and greet! thanks for coming out :D wish I could’ve talked to you guys more, but i was too shy :P

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