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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. I also live in America the States to be exact, the law is to take a written exam and driving exam you have three chances to pass the driving exam if you fail you must wait 6moths maybe a year to once again start the process all over again. That is if you are an adult. As for 16 year olds you also have a written exam if you pass you get a permit. The permit allows you to drive a car along with license holder (experience driver 4 years min). You must complete a certain amount of driving time to qualify to take the driving exam. License to minors come with restrictions. And like in Canada if you want to drive another type of vehicle it means you have other classes to take before getting your license.

    7 years ago
    • Oh as for my neighbor to south, Mexico. My mother land, well it’s pretty much sink or swim situation like S.Korea. You better get out of their way if you want to survive. Whenever I visit my sisters in Mexico City my brother-in-laws always insist that I take the car. If I do I never make it past the parking lot. I rather use public trans and run from the cars.

      7 years ago
  2. I am glad to come from a Central American country where, like Thailand and China, you have to fight your way through traffic :) As little kids, we grew up crossing the streets in between buses and cars, so going to Korea would be like going back home! XD – Police are also non-existence and you can very easily bribe yourself out of a ticket, we can ride anywhere on a car and babies can ‘drive’ on mom/dad’s lap. Now, I know how unsafe it is, but there is SO MUCH FREEEEEDOMMMMM! I miss it all now that I live in the US. It astounds me to see 10, yes, 10 years olds NOT move when they see me pulling into the driveway >> they even run infront of the car back and forth like nothing. Pisses me off, Ive had to save my little cousin from death a few times as well, little shit always runs in parking lots..and shes 11 >>. FREAK!- Its TOO easy in America.Thats for sure :)

    7 years ago
  3. I guess Korea has a lot in common with Poland :D And I thought Polish drivers are the worst hehe :D

    7 years ago
  4. I know the feeling! When i went to China on a class trip i have to say i nearly died at least a dozen times in each of the 2 day stops in each city. (We went to 7 provinces in 12 days, with larger cities like shanghai, beijing, etc). Holy smokes, I’m not kidding you! I have never been so scared in my whole life while riding a tour bus (without seat belts may i add). They were all over the road, in both lanes, in oncoming traffic, speeding like a bat out of hell, running over curbs, nearly taking out a group of children, seriously! I was terrified! On the first day when we got in Beijing, we were crossing a street to get to Tiananmen square and i was almost plowed over by a truck! Needless to say after that my chinese teacher basically held my hand at every crossing :P On top of that, I’m not sure how many bike riders there are in Korea, but they are everywhere in china! Doesn’t matter is its the sidewalk or the road, you have to dodge them like frogger! All i can say is, you guys if Korea is anything like China, i wish you luck!

    7 years ago
  5. I did a double take at the start when you stated, “Number one, we’re not American.”
    “Whoa”, I thought, channeling Bill & Ted I guess, “When did Canada move out of North America, Dude?”
    Then I thought — “Cut ’em some slack, Dude, they’ve just been away for long, long time.” Thankfully, this was the end of my B&T experience.

    7 years ago
    • I have never heard a person from Canada refer to themselves as an American (unless of course they’re an American citizen living in Canada). Citizens of the country Canada are referred to as “Canadians,” while citizens of the United States of America are called “Americans.” While the actual continent of North America is composed of more than just the United States, as far as I know, no one from those other countries call themselves “American” unless they are a citizen of the U.S.

      7 years ago
    • I think it’s just to emphasized that they’re Canadian?
      Aren’t US and Canada different country?
      If you watch others videos on their archives, they’re tend to make sure America (as in US country) is different than their country (Canada)
      ^_^

      7 years ago
    • I think that’s because people from the US (and yes I live in the US) tend to call ourselves American like we are the only country in North and South America…I don’t know how it came about… I think all other countries reflect their names (Canadian, Mexican, Chilean, etc) …maybe because United Statesian sounds stupid?

      7 years ago
  6. Wow,, that sounds like in my country. I live in Indonesia, and that things happens too.

    The worst part is, you’ll even barely walk on pedestrian here. Coz it filled up with A LOTS of strets seller. At the front of schools, in front of market place, in front of malls, even up on the overpass bridge, where it should be for ppl to safely croos the street! Whether it just ppl selling cigaretes and lots other stuff. Some motorcycles are even CLIMBS UP on the overpass that should only be for ppl coz they’re just want to cuts time on RUSH HOUR. What an excuse to do that.

    Even the public transportations stop almost every where they can and creates a very long traffic jam,, mostly on the crowded place such as market, schools (usualy at noon, when most of the student are about to go home), and other places.
    More over there even some intersection which don’t have traffic lamp on it, and there will be some ppl who are kind enough to help vehicle to pass over for a small amount of money (coins) but sometimes only creates more traffic jam at other places (such as an illegal U turn).
    And to add it, some ppl here also don’t have manner on the street. They do random dangerous things to themselves such as running when passing a crowded street. And then when it comes to accident, the driver would suffer from massive anger from ppl around. It’s like becoming a free punching bag! (It sounds horrible, but IT DOES HAPPEN) >_<

    No, I don't feel proud about it. But the difference is if there's a police man and woman nearby, that would be a different story. Sometimes when they get caught, they bribe the police to let them go and they wouldn't have to bother the trial for their ticket. I don't know exactly how's the bribe going on now (since I never got tickets on my entire riding life).

    7 years ago
  7. After traveling to London this summer I look both ways regardless of whether or not it’s a one way street XD I’m so paranoid that I’ll look the wrong way it’s ridiculous.

    7 years ago
  8. I made the mistake of eating my soup lunch while watching this video. Butternut squash soon found its way onto my screen during that mini questionaire. How dare you make me laugh so much?! Lol
    In California, it really depends on your age as to how hard it is to get your license. Like, if youre 16, you are only allowed a permit, you must take drivers Ed, and you have to do behind the wheel classes with the DMV. After you’re 18 you could just walk in and take a drivers test, but you aren’t very likely to pass :P I didn’t get my permit until after I was 18, so I was able to avoid drivers Ed and behind the wheel, but I am no where near ready to take my official drivers test D:

    7 years ago
  9. I already decided I’m never ever EVER driving in Korea. Like EVER. I’m already kind of a nervous driver, and having everything be in Korean… just no. But yeah, I guess I’ll have to really watch my step as a pedestrian too. Public transport ftw!!!

    Wow, really? Canada has some strict laws compared to here… Here (in Colorado, USA) when you’re like 15 and a half, you can take a permit test (paper only), and get your permit. This allows you to drive but ONLY if you have someone who is A- a licensed driver and B- over 21 in the front passenger seat with you. Then you have to have your permit for 6 months before you can take your license test. You also need to get something like 40 hours of documented driving time, and 10 hours have to be at night. Then for your test, it’s a written test and a practical test, but the practical is very easy. It’s only left turns, merging, using a blinker, etc. No parallel parking, no highway driving, no parking on a hill, none of that. But that’s only if you’re under 18. If you’re over 18, you can just walk in and take the practical- no written test required. That’s what I did, so it was very easy.

    7 years ago
  10. I’m glad finally korea has something in common with Indonesia. LOL
    I bet the driver in Indonesia is worst than there. so just be grateful that Korea has better pedestrian, better public transportation, better cars (a lot of piece of junk in the road), and I believe better driving.
    not to mention the way to get license. LOL, it happens in here as well. :p

    7 years ago
  11. right?! i was just thinking that! the driving in here in miami is SO BAD.

    7 years ago
  12. the sounds a lot like drivers here in miami. it’s insane how poorly people drive here.

    7 years ago
  13. I’ve heard so much about driving in other countries like Korea and China to be terrible. But, it’s because that people are always in a hurry I guess. But, like you guys said, people should be more careful when it comes to nursing mothers and the elderly and even pets like Spudgy. I hope whenever I go over to Korea to teach, that buses and taxis don’t try to murder me.

    7 years ago
  14. Hah! So driving in Korea is like… kinda like the driving in Lebanon lol

    7 years ago
  15. I was in Korea two weeks ago and OMG I was so nervous in the bus, It was like a rollercoaster. Our guide explained us that in Korea it’s possible to obtain your driving license in one week! you have a theoretical part and then you learn to drive on a circuit . They don’t drive in real conditions and… they don’t learn how to check their mirrors. But what really shocked me was that they don’t fasten their seatbelt.

    7 years ago
  16. Sooooo, S&M, you can change “eat your kimchi” to “eat your feijoada”, because driving in Brazil is not so different hahaha
    We even joke saying that if you can drive in Brazil, you can drive anywheeere in the world, because not only people don’t respect laws, but our streets are so neglected, there are TONS of holes… cars made here are “better” than the imported ones because of the shock absorbers hahahaha

    7 years ago
  17. I didn’t have any problems in Japan when crossing the road or inside cars. They seem to obey traffic laws at all times.

    When I visited Japan for the first time our tour group used a large bus to get us around Tokyo. On one outing, the traffic light suddenly turned red and our bus driver stopped in time, but ended up on the crosswalk. Unfortunately this particular intersection had a police officer stationed at its koubansho or “police box”. So what did the police officer do? He got out a stick and start walking around our tour bus hitting it. I could hear the police officer cursing in Japanese. And our bus driver in response looked very embarrassed and kept bowing.

    7 years ago
  18. So guys, you never have been driving in other Asian countries. Well since I live in the Philippines, and I drive through the city every time, whatever you described as some of the worse things in Korea, is just a typical thing here, especially in Manila. That thing the bus did, I see it every day here. Though here if you want to have a driver’s license you take a written and a practical test, you can “weave” through it. So I hope you survive it there! You’ll learn how to do “defensive” driving in time. Haha. =)

    7 years ago
  19. It’s kinda the same here in the Philippines, but public transportation (Buses, taxis, tricycles, jeepneys) drivers do that often. They counter-flow a one-way street, cross the street even it’s red light, stop right in the middle of the street to pick up passengers (bus/jeepney stops doesn’t exist here). I think they really lack proper education about the rules and proper manners on the road. Private vehicles are somewhat good in obeying traffic rules, well except for some rowdy and arrogant ones.

    7 years ago
  20. Yeah, remember earlier in the year when a truck driver in Korea took out almost an entire pro cycling team? How in the world can a driver not see a whole cycling team and coach car, you might ask. He eventually admitted he was watching TV when he should’ve been watching the road.

    I really hate those in-car TVs. The streets and sidewalks of Korea are already too dangerous without that huge distraction adding to the insanity.

    7 years ago
  21. Here in my country (Ecuador) it´s more or less the same as in Korea (maybe worst!!) but we do have to take Driving Lessons, in theory and practice, then we are tested by the ones in charge of making the driving laws be followed perfectly (driving practice and theory) and then they give us a license. When it’s a professional License it´s way more complicated. But still people here don´t care about the laws and just drive as they want. So yeah crossing the streets is dangerous and driving too. Sadly.

    7 years ago
  22. Hi, I’ve got a question for TL:DR
    You are invited to different k-festivals, people recognize on the streets, you have huge amount of fans, who have fanclub name :) what is your reaction to all of that? do you feel famous? do you like that many people consider you celebrities?

    7 years ago
    • This is too awkward a question for us to answer, because we feel very awkward about it all. Immensely grateful, totally overwhelmed by everyone’s support, but we still feel icky sometimes, like “why the eff do people know us? It’s so odd!”

      7 years ago
      • Ha! This question is great because I just discovered EYK recently (and I loves it btw). I’ve also just been watching older episodes of Running Man and who happened to be on the guest judging panel for their Korean food compettion? ‘Ommo! Simon-and Martina-Couple!’ And on a side note… Martina you know you only picked the boys beef dish because of Nichkhun!…I would have too :)

        7 years ago
  23. Yeah, no complaints about Japanese drivers in Japan. They’re pretty obedient of the laws. I’ve never been to China, but now i’m gonna have to watch our when i cross the streets..

    7 years ago
    • I did that and people literally laughed at me. Ever stop in a red light, when close to a 100 people are crossing, and you’re the only jackass standing still and obeying traffic law. After awhile, you’re like , “aww… fuck this,” and you go with the crowd.

      7 years ago
  24. In South Dakota (USA) Kids can start getting their learners permit when they are 14 years old. (I think this might be one of the youngest ages around to begin their drivers license) They aren’t supposed to drive after 10pm at night and are supposed to be with an adult who has their license. However since a lot of kids help out on farms and such they often drive by themselves once they have the hang of it. I am happy to say that the streets are mostly safe aside from drunk drivers and little old ladies who forget to stop at a stop sign.

    7 years ago