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One Year Later: Japan vs Korea

December 15, 2016

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By some fluke, it has been exactly one year since we announced we’re moving to Japan. We honestly didn’t plan to publish this kind of video on this date, but it seems befitting. We announced our decision then, and we’re talking more about it now.

It’s been a year since that video and I think a year has been a good amount of time for us to think things over. We thought about it for a long time before announcing that video, and we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on our lives since. And from every angle we look at it, the answer is the same: this has been the greatest year of our lives.

Saying that, though, is kind of scary for us. Very scary. I don’t know if we’ve been clear about this, but some of you might glean that we’re really uncomfortable with the anger we get from Korean netizens. Any discussion we have about both countries hits a sore spot for nationalists. Yes, we know Korea and Japan have a bad history with each other, as we’re constantly reminded. But the fact is, we don’t share that history. We’re not Korean. We’re not Japanese. We don’t have a dog in this race. We just lived in Korea, and now we live in Japan, and we want to be able to talk about our lives retrospectively sometimes, and to see how we’ve grown.

I honestly think that our time in Japan has been so great specifically because of the troubles we had in Korea. When we tell our friends here the things that make us happy about Japan they look at us weird. And I think if we came to Japan without the context of Korea, we would take a lot of the things we love about Japan for granted. I mean, we grew up in the suburbs of Canada: our neighbourhoods were always quiet. We wouldn’t give a shit about that if we moved to Kichijoji straight from Pickering. But after losing so many hours of sleep in the screams of Seoul, coming to the peaceful nights we have here means a lot more to us than it would have otherwise. Our time in Korea has helped us love our time in Japan more.

I was in the car with one of our Japanese friends recently. We were waiting to turn left. There was a car in front of him that had many MANY opportunities to make the turn, but he didn’t take it. We waited until the driver ahead of us went, and then took our turn when it came up. My friend apologized for being such an angry driver afterwards. For doing what, I don’t know. I actually laughed. He didn’t even honk his horn! He just sighed as far as I can remember. If this was Korea he would have leaned on his horn, and driven around the guy through oncoming traffic and endangered us all. I didn’t feel at all in danger driving with him, or with anybody I’ve ever driven with in Japan.

I’m expecting to read in the comments “but please understand our situation” from people upset with our verdict, but I’m not trying to be a historian or anthropologist here. This isn’t a discussion about the rich histories of both countries. This is a simple video: I lived in both countries, and living in this one is better for me, and holy shit I’m so worried about saying that but hell I should be able to say that. I’m not telling everyone that Korea is hell, which many Korean people are saying themselves. I’m just saying that, by the end of my time in Korea, it wasn’t for me.

This feels almost like breaking up with a boyfriend. We had good times, I know that. But by the end of the relationship I was starting to see sides of you that I didn’t want to experience. It was time for me to move on to my life. Time for us to see other people. I’m sure you’ll find someone that can love you more than I did, and I wish you health and happiness, but I need someone different in my life. And I’m seeing someone new, actually. His name is Japan. We have a great relationship together. And I couldn’t be as happy as I am now if it wasn’t for what I learned with you.

I hope that you, the reader, can also feel comfortable in knowing when it’s time to move on. If you’re dating someone who abuses you, or if you’re at a job that treats you like shit, you have all the right in the world to find a new partner, to look for a new job. And if you’re in a country that makes you uncomfortable, you have all the right to try to move somewhere else. You should be able to express that you feel your country isn’t treating you how you want to be treated. For those of you unhappy with the results of an election, if you feel like you’re jeopardizing your wellbeing staying where you are, if you’ve fallen out of love with your country, find a new love. It’s your life. Please live it how you want to.

And now it’s time for me to unwind with a bottle of wine. Hopefully my ex won’t blow up my phone with angry texts.

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One Year Later: Japan vs Korea

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  1. Simon let’s say you loved Poland and knew about its history, and someone you were a fan of said they liked Russia or Germany more. How would you feel?

    2 years ago
  2. When you annunced that you’re gonna move to Japan I was suprised and confused. I didn’t watch you guys from the start (actally I remamber the first video from your channel from btw my favourite series that I miss “WTF Ufo Umbrella”) and I didn’t know about your orginal plan to be for some time here and then move to next country. But as the time goes by I started to understand your decision more and more. I was into Korea for a while (7 years) so I wouldn tell it was a phase. At some point I started to see that it wasn’t that sugar sweet as I saw it in the beggining, that side suprised me not in a good kind of way but also give me a glance to your perpective (although I never live there,so it’s more like a guess).There are still things that I like, things that I enjoy. I just wanna tell you guys,that I’m happy about you, about your decision. I think that a lot of people forget to make yourself a priority no matter if that person is a yt or a farmer,and just make stuff/decision to make yourself happy.

    2 years ago
  3. hello guys i follow you both since both was living in Korea
    (sorry my bad english xD )
    im from Chile but living in Japan since 2009 i also went to korea many times, thinking go there and move for a while for study korean ,i was very exciting with that idea, but i totally change my mind xD i like go to Korea and enjoy with some friends, went to culture places,clubs etc, but just for that, as trip,thats enough for me,i changed my mind after traveling there many times (around 9 times)i get dissapointed in korea about many things, so that makes me change my mind, im not saying korea is bad country for live or something, but people (specially girls)they idealize that country because they watch tooo much dramas and kpop idols lol but the realitty is totally different and also from some korean people aways say to me ” why are you in japan,they are bad and bla bla bla ,start talk about history and etc etc) that makes me tired, or maybe i just get used live in japan for many years, but honestly i think it was the best option in my life and im very glad didnt went to korea for live, as im saying korea is not bad country but is just my opinion and im just very glad living in my city,plus im living in Fukushima prefecture but other city :D
    im glad you guys also like live in Japan !!! ^-^

    3 years ago
  4. Din

    I changed my job, saying its time for me to move on.. Now i regret :/ I want my ex back :'(

    4 years ago
  5. Hello Simon and Martina, I’m a high school student and my friends are thinking of going on a trip to Japan right after graduation. We live in California and is it a good idea for us to go on a tour or can you give us any good websites to buy cheap tickets (like round trips), I won’t be able to go with my friends due to money issues but it would be cool if you can help me find a great way to go with them without making myself spend so much (sorry that this is so much work) also my friend is allergic to seafood (i know it sucks) is there any suggestions you recommend my friend should eat at Japan. Also Thank you so much if you read this and I wish that I will be able to go with my friends but I know there is always next time.

    4 years ago
  6. That was heartfelt, and the sincerity comes across. I have Japanese friends and i have Korean friends. One has an ax to grind and a chip as big as a mountain on their shoulder. The Japanese on the other hand have kindness and propriety ingrained in them that perhaps have made it difficult to fix their problem once and for all. Having said that, will be going to Japan for more vacations :) The first time was a few weeks ago during Christmas, and couldn’t wait to go back to Tokyo and do some food bingeing! Will look at your videos for tips.

    4 years ago
  7. I want to start by giving you guys major kudos for how you have handled the comments on your youtube post of this video. I was very firmly reminded of why I watch videos on your website instead of there. The community here is just so much more friendly and open. It’s people that like watching your videos because they are fun and interesting, and people that ACTUALLY watch your videos. I don’t understand all the negativity over there.
    PUTTING that aside, I think this was a great video. I know your health has been iffy, Martina, but shit it’s been great to see all these smiles on your faces. I have loved all the extra traveling you guys have been doing, and after what you said about running a studio and having to do all that extra jumping through hoops in Korea, I can see why now you’d have the time and energy to do all of these interesting things.
    I’m so glad you’re happy where you are, I’m glad you guys were able to make the move. I look forward to your next adventure!

    4 years ago
  8. Hi Simon and Martina. I’m a 30-something professional data geek (programmer) living and working in the noisiest, dirtiest, most sarcastic city on earth: new york. Living here is maybe like what you went through in Seoul except with a worst subway system and more homeless addicts panhandling for change. I’ve lived in nyc for 8 years and while I seem to have more and more complaints about this city (and country) I am still relatively happy here. Before this, I lived for 1 year in Kyoto and 6 months in Seoul. I loved and still cherish the time I got to live abroad in Japan and Korea but it never seemed like real life to me. I was an observer: self-determined to remain an outsider given that I knew I’d be moving back to the States when the right opportunity arose.

    Here is New York, some days I’m happy, some days I’m not. Even though I’ve become immune to the daily brusqueness of life here, every shove and act of injustice is hardening me and changing me into a much more pessimistic person. So I question myself: Do I really like it here? Am I really happy?

    I live along a busy avenue (lots of extremely loud buses, waste management and emergency vehicles, horn-blasting yellow taxis, drunken hooligans, barking dogs, you name it) on the fifth floor of a crumbling walk-up apartment building in Manhattan. I fight with apartment management over every leak that has to be fixed, and pesticide treatment that has to be scheduled. Some days, I have to battle parades, demonstrations, movie/tv filmcrews, and other street closures just to make it to my front door. Ordering packages is stressful since I don’t have a doorman and am not sure what the heck the UPS/FEDEX/postal service will do this time with the package (nevermind what state it’s in).

    I could write a novel here but I’ll spare you. The point I want to make is that I still feel very alive and challenged here. I met my other half here and have formed solid relationships with different kinds of people I would’ve never crossed paths with otherwise. I love that inspiration, hiking, food, people-watching is so accessible (just one -stinky – subway ride away!). I am willing to suffer for this, for now. I’m not sure how much longer. It’s all a personal decision right? Maybe I’ll be super happy if I move out of nyc and can enjoy a full night of uninterrupted sleep, or order something from amazon without stressing out that someone will take it. I wouldn’t have even known such pleasures and reasons for elation had it not been for all these years of suffering hardship, eh?

    You guys mentioned it too directly in your video. Part of the happiness you feel in Japan is because of what you went through in Korea. I think we have to take the journey and experience things for ourselves to define what makes us happy and appreciate all the feels.

    Wishing you both much health, wealth, love, and happiness for the new year!!

    4 years ago
  9. I wanted to ask– since you’ve been in Japan have you been part of rush hour on trains? If so, were you okay with getting stuffed into one (that is if the trains were as full as I’ve seen in gifs and numerous youtube videos)? How did you feel about it? I’d honestly try to find another way to get to where I’m going if there was a chance of that happening to me if I tried to take the train.

    4 years ago
  10. I don’t usually leave comments but I felt compelled to do so after having read this article and some other comments on this subject. Firstly, I love you guys, I’ve been a viewer for a few years now. But sadly, I have to admit that this video was a bit disappointing (not in what your perspective was but how the video was presented). When you guys first decided to move to Japan, I was really enthousiastic about the decision because I admire both Korean and Japanese cultures very much. I felt a bit shocked because the news of you guys moving was so sudden and unexpected but I wanted to support you guys.
    I feel as if you held back a lot of (negative) feelings about Korea as a whole and you’ve only just opened Pandora’s box. I’m not going to lie, I’m Korean so hearing cons about Korea does kind of irk me but I assume that this is normal because most people have strong sentiments about their home country. Some people who were born in war-ridden countries still aspire to go back and help their countries develop (no matter how imperfect they are). So I understand why some Koreans are really enraged about this topic. The fact is that the history between the two countries is quite complicated and still unresolved. You guys may not have incorporated the history of these two countries in your discussion but it will still have an impact on your viewers because these events have made both nationalities somewhat sensitive to each other. I feel like the best way to go through with this was to list the cons and pros of each country but not directly state your opinion of which country you liked. Now I’m not saying that your opinion is wrong or bad. It’s good. It’s an opinion. And you shouldn’t have to sugarcoat things. But judging by how each country is very sensitive to each other, it would have probably been better for you to have held back a little. You obviously fit in with Japan better so you probably see more advantages to it. That being said, for the purpose of the video, I think that you should have brought up pros and cons that exceed your perspective on the two countries. The way that the video was formatted, made me believe that there was no good thing about Korea. I absolutely want your happiness as it is really nice to see but I feel like you guys should have been a little more careful on a comparison video…

    4 years ago
    • koreans are always bring history to everything about Japan, im not defended the country where im living but is very tired,always same,is like koreans doesnt have nothing more to say.

      3 years ago