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Why We Hate the Driving in Korea

November 1, 2012

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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.

Honking

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?

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Why We Hate the Driving in Korea

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  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.

    I AM NOT THE ANGRY NETIZEN YOU WERE REFERENCING EARLIER, AND I HOPE YOU DON’T THINK OF ME AS ONE.

    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!
    Jay

    PS: YOU FAT AMERICAN PIGS!!!!!

    5 years ago
    • 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.

      5 years ago
  2. Martina I LOVE ur t-shirt :)

    7 years ago
  3. I’m Australian, but I grew up travelling Europe, and I agree with you. It is definitely a combination of the massive fines, and the fact it takes YEARS to be on a full license. One year as a Learner with a licensed driver after a written test, one year on P1 with curfews and vehicle restrictions after a driving exam, two years on P2 with just vehicle restrictions. And THEN you get to have a full license. It’s a bit crazy.

    7 years ago
  4. 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…

    7 years ago
  5. Wowie, it’s really neat to see how different the driving regulations are even from just Ontario :O! I’m from BC, and here we have like, you take a test for your Learners [L] and you have to use that for a full year [in which you can only drive if you have someone in your car with a full license], and then take another test [which is an actual road test I believe where the L test is an online thing] where you get your New [N], and you use that for TWO years [where you can only drive with a licensed driver and one other person I think cuz I remember driving with my older brother when he had his N] and then after that you can apply for your full license! But wowie, I’m a pretty oblivious person when I walk about on the streets and I’ve almost gotten hit several times, I can’t even imagine walking around in Korea O – O Anyway, thanks for your TL;DRs, I love learning about Korea from you guys! :D

    7 years ago
  6. It’s a pretty serious problem: driving in Korea but I can’t say my country’s driving (Romania, Bucharest) is the best either… it’s pretty dangerous…we also have what you call ‘Driver’s Education’ and driving tests but they don’t take that long (about one to two months). Here most of the drivers stop at red lights but there are exceptions… for example there’s a crosswalk I take almost daily and the traffic lights are a bit far away so I’ve encountered situations where, the car is just caught inbetween the green traffic light and red light so …because they don’t want to wait they just go through taking the risk of running over people (I’ve uploaded a small drawing :)) )…. and at crosswalks where there isn’t a traffic light you have to look both ways because you don’t know if the drivers want to stop or not… some of them do some don’t; I was crossing one once and I stood there for like 5 minutes waiting. The most dangerous drivers are the ones ‘in the field’ that try to interject your direction of driving when you’re speeding or changing lanes… oh and taxi drivers… I think they’re ‘special’ everywhere…they’re the cars that get into accidents more often… So yeah every country has its good and bad sides… The point is that no matter in what country you live/ what country you visit, you must ALWAYS look both directions and make sure the cars are slowing down for you to cross because you never know!(and an advice for drivers… don’t get cocky because someone cut your path and try to cross theirs … just let them slide… your life is more important!… and if you’re running out of time well you can always use a phone and let people know)

    Btw love your pedestrians Martina! :)

    7 years ago
  7. I’m sorry I am from Brooklyn, NY and we also have the same problems. Stop signs and red lights are suggestions not commons silly. One way does not always follow the arrow sings if its in convent to the driver. If you are walking by a drive away just run or get hit. So there are places in America you have very careful drivers if you don’t want to die.

    7 years ago
  8. Financially, how is life for a a foreign english teacher in South Korea?

    7 years ago
  9. Hahaha! You say that cause you haven’t gone to Greece yet! Here, not only the car drivers are dangerous, the pedestrians are too! And I’m speaking honestly as a Greek citizen. You can cross the street with a red light and cars coming at you. And cars do not care about a red light about….50% of the time. They call it “deep orange”, if you get what I mean. They speed up at the orange light too. And it’s completely normal. I didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to b like that until a couple from England came to live with us for a few weeks and whenever we crossed the street they would start shouting “we’re gonna die! we’re gonna die!”
    Of course, I might be wrong, and things in korea could be way worse than here, but I hope it’s not, since I’m planning on living there for a big period of my life. But I guess then I could use all the “training” from Greece! :D

    7 years ago
  10. Where I live (Orlando, FL); you have to take a test to get a driver’s permit (if you’re younger than 18 you have to wait a year before getting a license and can only drive with a licensed person in the car) and if 18 and older after taking taking lessons you take a driving test on basic things such as stopping, 3 point turns, parking and etc.

    Now.. thats not to say there aren’t terrible drivers here. Drivers are okay in Orlando; but in another part central FL, its terrible. You see there are a lot of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans in this area who drive like their still in Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic or New York (some of my Puerto Rican friends have told me of the horrific driving in Puerto Rico). I admit I”m not the best driver either but when I’m around that area I have to be more defensive and careful because people are crazy and don’t care about others just as long as they reach their destination.

    7 years ago
  11. i feel your guys pain. I’m in india right now and omg the driving here is atrocious. when i first came here i used to pray to god that i’d make it across alive before crossing. I swear that cars, buses, scooters, etc all speed up when they see you instead of slowing down. it’s like an endless game of chicken. Honestly i still can’t believe that haven’t gotten hit yet. *knock on wood* that it never happens. and omg those delivery boys are insane! my classmate got into a terrible motorcycle accident and ended up in a hospital for a month because of a delivery boy. a couple years ago a family friend’s son died because the bus driver wasn’t paying attention and ran him over when he had the right of way. The same thing happened with my uncle. Truck driver came out of nowhere and crashed into his car, causing it to flip over and killing everyone in the car. A lot of people here don’t have licenses. I just wish people would actually understand that there’s a reason for driving laws and that it’s for their own protection instead of seeing it as an inconvenience. Plus i totally agree with you guys about how north american drivers should not be complaining about driving. I get annoyed when i’m home (omaha nebraska u.s.a) and my friends complain about driving there. like seriously? they have no idea how bad it is in other places. anyways i enjoyed your guys videos. stay safe! Fighting!

    7 years ago
  12. i feel your guys pain. I’m in india right now and omg the driving here is atrocious. when i first came here i used to pray to god that i’d make it across alive before crossing. I swear that cars, buses, scooters, etc all speed up when they see you instead of slowing down. it’s like an endless game of chicken. Honestly i still can’t believe that haven’t gotten hit yet. *knock on wood* that it never happens. and omg those delivery boys are insane! my classmate got into a terrible motorcycle accident and ended up in a hospital for a month because of a delivery boy. a couple years ago a family friend’s son died because the bus driver wasn’t paying attention and ran him over when he had the right of way. The same thing happened with my uncle. Truck driver came out of nowhere and crashed into his car, causing it to flip over and killing everyone in the car. A lot of people here don’t have licenses. I just wish people would actually understand that there’s a reason for driving laws and that it’s for their own protection instead of seeing it as an inconvenience. Plus i totally agree with you guys about how north american drivers should not be complaining about driving. I get annoyed when i’m home (nebraska, u.s.a) and my friends complain about driving there. like seriously? they have no idea how bad it is in other places. anyways i enjoyed your guys videos. stay safe! Fighting!

    7 years ago
  13. I’m not sure if this was ever asked, (if it was I’m sorry TT TT)
    But how did you guys get into kpop?

    7 years ago
  14. Simon and Martina! How do Koreans view men with facial hair? Considering that Korean men seem to often be very clean cut, is facial hair present in Korea and how is it viewed in Korean society?

    7 years ago
  15. Jacksonville drivers are pretty much the same as Korean drivers. So, I think I’m prepared.

    7 years ago
  16. I agree sooooo much with everything that is said in this video!! xP The only point you forgot is that Korean are amazing when it comes to drive in little streets around parked cars, people walking ang cars coming on the other way in a one way street. Koreans don’t drive, thay make there way in the city! ^.^

    7 years ago
  17. “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.”
    LOL!!! I have to admit. I actually liked when my taxi drivers did this at night …mainly when I’m the one paying for the taxi :P haha saves on the cost! Got so used to it that when they don’t I get disappointed hahahaha oh how I miss living there…I’ll just have to live vicariously through Simon and Martina ;)

    7 years ago
  18. Of course they do, but there are a LOT of speed racer types, so I guess they can’t get to them all.

    7 years ago
  19. my home country sound like korean driving. but know where i live now long island new york its pretty much what your describe in the blog its intense to get that damn license but i did it after the second try and already have a ticket for going 10 mph the speed limit damn oh well and i do feel safe here in long island they are really good drivers and are nice to pedestrians now when new yorkers city people come to the east end is another deal they are horrible thats being nice they are stupid we call the cidiots lol bc they are so bad. but everything else in long island drivers are pretty good and safe to be a pedestrian.

    7 years ago
  20. After watching this, I think I would be too scared to drive if I was in Korea…most drivers here in Germany obey the rules (most of the times). It is also not easy to pass the practical test to get your driver’s license here. I was lucky enough to make it at the first try, but many people don’t. My boyfriend needed 4 tries to pass! ^^;
    The only thing I don’t like about driving in Germany is the speed….really, not having a speed limit whatsoever on the highway can be so dangerous! I hate it when my tiny little car almost gets blown off the street because someone decided to drive past me at 200km/h T__T Imagine a country where everyone drives like a madman without a speed limit – that would be scary! O_O

    7 years ago
  21. I just have to watch out for hitting loose cows in the road, being clobbered by manure trucks that won’t stay on their side of the road and getting stuck in traffic jams behind tractors hauling grain here in Wisconsin…oh, and Minnesotan drivers… I s’pose I can’t complain (but those manure trucks are pretty scary!) :D

    7 years ago
  22. I don’t think getting a driver’s license in Korea is as easy as you’ve described. I’m sure there’s a driving portion of the test, which I hear is notoriously difficult to pass. But unlike North America, where we actually drive on real streets and roads for the test, Korea has a test course adjacent to a “DMV.” And it’s like an obstacle course! I think there was an episode of “We Got Married” with Nichkun and Victoria at such a course.

    7 years ago
  23. Dear simon and martina

    can you make a WANK about comic world convention happening in seoul once a month

    7 years ago
  24. I was just reading some of the comments on youtube and saw things that are ignorant, aggressive and just plain mean. Even I feel hurt and sad seeing them and they’re not directed towards me.
    So I have to ask; How do you endure it? Are you superheroes?

    7 years ago