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Technology in South Korea

July 23, 2014

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If you couldn’t tell from the enthusiasm in our voices, we find the topic of technology in South Korea really exciting. There’s so much cool stuff here! Now, I’m worried that some of the things we mention here might be common in your countries. Forgive us if they are. We just remember not having these in Canada. It’s been six years since we lived in Canada, though, so maybe some of this stuff is already available there. If so, please let us know!

Otherwise, here are some other cool things that we didn’t talk about!

Built in Rice Dispenser

Ok, so this isn’t really an electronic thing, but it’s pretty badass. Rice is a big part of Korean cuisine. So big, it seems, that a rice dispenser is built into our cabinets. So, there’s a thin little drawer right beside our appliances drawer. I pull the thin drawer out, turn a nob, and exactly one cup of rice comes out into a little box at the bottom, and I pull that box out, then dump that into my rice cooker. IT’S SO BRILLIANT! We don’t eat a lot of rice, so we put other stuff in there, like barley and quinoa instead. But, still, it’s cool

Ceiling Clothes Dryer

Ok, now this thing here is electrical. Here’s the deal: our washing machine is in the room beside our kitchen. Attached to the ceiling is this odd box with a few bars on it. That box has a remote control that does a few things. With that remote control, I can have the bars lowered, since the bars are attached to an accordion contraption, which attaches to the box. So, I lower the bars, then put my wet clothes on hangers, and put those hangers on the bars. Then I push another button on the remote to bring the bars back up to the box. But here’s the cool part: I push another button on the remote, and the box is now a fan that blow-dries the clothing. AMAZING! It’s not hot air that shrinks your clothing or anything. Just a nice fan that blows on your clothes from above. It’s so brilliant! It’s off the ground so you can still walk around. And as soon as it’s done drying, you can simply bring your clothes over to your closet, as they’re already pre-hung. That’s pretty awesome, IMO.

Warning: Tech Ain’t Cheap Here

This was majorly disappointing for me. Before coming to Korea I was under the impression that living in Asia would result in buying cheap electronics for everything, but that’s really not the case in Korea. Tech stuff here is expensive. It’s actually cheaper to buy a Samsung TV in Canada than it is in Korea. Our TV cost us three times more than the TVs we’ve seen at Best Buy.

Now, supposedly the reason why things are so expensive here is because they come with lifetime warrantees or something like that, so if anything ever goes wrong you can just bring your Samsung product to the Samsung shop (and those things are fairly prevalent around here). We still haven’t had to bring anything in, so it’s kinda good that our electronics aren’t faulting, but still kinda bad that we spent so much money on it. Eerrgghhh :(

So, that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. Let us know if you have any cool tech stuff that’s common in your country that you didn’t see in other countries. I’m sure there’s stuff here in Korea that we’ve taken for granted. Let us know if we forgot any!

Otherwise, make sure you click on this pretty button here below for more TL;DR videos! We’re flying out to Sweden tomorrow early morning, so we might not be as active in the comments as we usually are, but we’ve still got videos prepared in advance! Don’t miss out on them, including our important Coffee Shop Opening Party Announcement video tomorrow!

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Technology in South Korea

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  1. During my Seoul adventure last October, we realized that the owners of our rented apartment didn’t tell us we had to lift the handle to lock our keypad door knob… we went out the entire first day without knowing our apartment was unlocked! #Thingstotellyourforeignvisitors

    6 years ago
  2. *daleks oops

    6 years ago
  3. DAELEKS DOCTOR WHO!!! Asdfghjkl ^·^

    6 years ago
  4. I need proof! you should have video taped some of these things! like the parking & the dryer! : D

    6 years ago
  5. Right now I’m living in the US but I have been living in Spain for many years and I haven’t seen anything like that.In Spain and in the US those things for the apartment are like extras that you can buy(is really expensive, by the way…at least it was in Spain)and the parking system is really cool!!! When I’m in the car I always get mad with the people that “steal” the place that I have already seen as mine LOL.
    But the thing that I’m sure that people have in the majority of countries are the people with smartphones absorbed in their own little world(like me…for an example)

    6 years ago
  6. I live in Calgary Alberta Canada. and some of the malls here like Chinook mall has those red and green light thingys in the parkade too. some of the escalators here also just slow down when they are not being used and as soon as you step on the the floor panel in front of it, it speeds up. Some of the lights are also motion sensored but thats mainly in the buisness towers on the floors. like say you forgot something in your office. you get to your floor step out f the elevator BOOM the lights turn on in the lobby you go to the side of the floor your office is Boom only those lights turn on its pretty cool. We also now have the tap pass thingy for transit here YAY no more having to waste paper on single bus ticket or transfer.

    6 years ago
    • oh and also some of the parkades here also tell you how many stalls are left in the parkade as well.

      6 years ago
  7. Japan also has a lot of motion-sensor detector technology, but not much of the other stuff… and it’s not everywhere either. I’ve seen the escalators, and at my school (which is only about 4 years old), all the lights in the public areas are motion sensor. so like, if you go to the toilet in between classes and nobody’s been there in 5 minutes, then it’ll be dark but the lights will turn on as you walk in. same thing in the staircases, etc. i think it’s pretty cool, since i’m the kind of person who used to be yelled at by my mom all the time for leaving the lights on everywhere in the house when i was younger, haha…

    6 years ago
  8. I want all of these things. How were these not included on your apartment tour video??

    6 years ago
    • I hope we get to see some fancy demonstrations and visuals in the future :3

      6 years ago
  9. Omg…i’m soo jelly right now!!! I’d kill to have that elevator beeper thingy… heck, I’d love just having usable elevators (since currently all three elevators in my apartment building are dead and i’m stuck in the 8th floor O_O). Any who, I’m form Puerto Rico, and as for the technology here…umm let’s just say, I’m still searching for it. There’s absolutely nothing cool or innovative here, but I studied in the Dominican Republic for 4 years and on my last year there a new mall opened up (Blue Mall). It also had that parking system which told you how many spots were available, and in which floors they were.

    6 years ago
  10. the only thing we have here in Germany is that parking lot thingy that says how many spots are empty.
    I think Europe seems to be very backwards with public displays of technology… If you could call it that way, a lot of people just think that being super high tech comes with a loss of that homely and antique feeling that you get from visiting the older city districts. I think a lot of cities can’t afford it as well because most of them are in debt to the ears. The renovation and reequipping of the local hospital cost the town about 10 million dollars I think…
    In my region, even in the bigger cities, no restaurant or store has public wifi for its customers. There might be some places that I don’t know about but a lot of them don’t have it. Even 3G Reception is hugely lacking in my area, I can’t even call anyone from my cellphone when I’m at home. Oh dear the rural regions of Germany are SUCKING. SUCKING SO HARD.
    But solar and wind power are HUGE everywhere in Germany. Every second house I see has solar panels on the roof, and there’s a huge park with like 10 wind turbines right next to us

    6 years ago
    • But we have great cars, cant forget that xD even germans have no idea how much our cars evolve everyday, its crazy. And you´re right solar power is huge, like really huge.
      I don´t have the same problems with wifi? Maybe because i am from a different region. I had to go hiking with one of my classes and on top of the hill i had perfect wifi and could call anyone i wanted so that was quite cool

      6 years ago
  11. They actually have the same parking system with the red and green lights and numbers at the Third Street Promenade mall/shopping area (or maybe it’s The Grove, I forget which one it is) in LA which also has something about paying from your phone (I think, I’ve never tried)

    LA however, has absolutely terrible reception in what seems like anywhere you actually need it. And, those “smart panels” are generally available if you pay a fee for the service and installation + equipment etc. They have a similar lever/thing used in hospitals that allows you to operate the faucet with your feet, but I’m pretty sure that’s mechanical and I’ve only ever seen it in hospitals.

    The door technology mostly applies to college dorms and the more recently built apartments in LA, the suburbs and older areas aren’t up-to-date in that respect.

    6 years ago
    • Century City mall has the lighted parking spaces. WHICH IS AWESOME.

      6 years ago
  12. I see what you did there with the Daleks XD

    6 years ago
  13. I live in the U.S.A and there isn’t any cool technology now and days. The U.S.A doesn’t really make too much of it’s own stuff now. I have to say one of my biggest pet peeves here in the U.S. is the parking buildings. You have to drive through every floor and look at every spot to be able to find a parking space. I’ve never experienced a parking building like the ones you described. Also a lot of things in the U.S.A are NOT Eco-friendly; In fact the majority of our electronics waste resources. We have the automatic flushing toilets that sometimes go off while you are still doing your stuff!! That wastes a whole gallon of water!! Also I heard that in some countries they have more Eco-friendly ways of bringing home groceries, but here in the U.S.A you just take home new plastic bags every shopping trip only to throw them away! I really think that the U.S.A is becoming farther behind on technology and is hurting the Earth because of it.

    6 years ago
    • The automatic toilets are annoying especially when I try to put down the toilet seat cover and it flushes because it senses movement. Same thing with the automatic faucets and paper towel dispensers. At UCSB they tried to dial back on water usage even more because of the drought and finally installed more eco-friendly toilets with the optional flip? I don’t know what to call it but if you did a number 1 you just push up to flush and if you did number 2 you push down. It’s simple and saves water and in my opinion better than the automatic toilets.

      And I know at least in my neighborhood in LA they stopped using plastic bags at least in some stores. More and more stores are starting to stop using them because apparently there’s a new law. I’m not sure but I remember my mom freaking out because she forgot to bring a cloth bag for groceries one time. It’s also sad because and this is not just the case for Korean immigrant parents but for all frugal parents we use the same plastic grocery bags for trash cans and other stuff. So my mom is trying to figure out alternatives. But I agree USA is really slow when it comes to more eco friendly efficient technology.

      6 years ago
  14. lol, I’m from Dubai, and here because we have the biggest mall in the world, we can easily forget where we parked your car, so we have cameras that are connected to the red/green lights above the parking slots that you talked about. The cameras connect to a touch monitor you use to find your car. You just enter you cars number in the monitor and it automatically finds your car and it shows you a map of where it is. You can see it here (0:24): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNIGEqmGooI
    And instead of stopping at the tollbooth, we have Salik (literally mean”Passable”): http://goo.gl/qDtPe5
    You just stick a sticker/tag on the car windshield and it will automatically deduct money, we don’t need to stop at all.
    Also we have a Ski in a Mall (pic: http://goo.gl/B2O8kz) and the Longest automated metro system.
    And gold ATMs (which is in Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi [the capital of our country]), I have never seen it, but here is a pic: http://goo.gl/O6tuUy

    6 years ago
  15. Hahahaa, Martina, you nailed it in the end. Dubai does have some of the stuff that you said. As a resident in the Middle East, i can say i have witnessed these, especially the motion detecting elevator and the parking slots .
    The Motion detecting elevator is now pretty common used in the region. its like found everywhere, as an effort to save energy and stop carbon foot prints.
    Also, as for the parking slots, there is a sign board out side each level of a mall or office buildings that would indicate how many slots are free, or if they are full. however, we still don’t have the ticketing method. We still have to roll down the window and do the sexy stretch for the guy behind to stare at.

    6 years ago
  16. The one I love is the Parking Lights, The Cosmopolitan Hotel/Casino uses the same system and it makes parking so much less stressful. My condo building uses RFI fobs for the garage gates and doors other than the condos, but no auto opening elevators. I wonder if I should change my door lock to a remote/keypad/thumb scanner equipped version??

    6 years ago
  17. The lock for your apartment door that you guys mentioned–I kinda have that in my dorm, actually! (I’m in Boston) My student ID is basically my key–I press it against the keypad and while it flashes green and red, I punch in my code and the door unlocks. If I don’t have my student ID, I can use my phone and press a handy-dandy “UNLOCK MY DOOR” button on an app from my university and ta-da, door swings open. MIND-BLOWN when I realized I didn’t have to worry too much if I lost my ID.

    6 years ago
  18. We have some of that stuff in the UK (West London at least) apart from the elevator or apartment system. The taps have like motion technology instead of tapping the floor. And I don’t know if other countries have this, but at school students have cards to access rooms, pay for lunch etc.
    Really envious of the apartment key though…

    6 years ago
  19. We have nothing even close to this where I live, and it makes me very sad. COME ON ILLINOIS, GET IN THE GAME, SON!

    6 years ago
  20. We have some of this stuff in Cincinnati! Well the pay by plate thing in the downtown areas anyway haha. I wish my apartment complex had the intercom system that you guys have. I hate having to put on pants to go downstairs and get my pizza…

    6 years ago
  21. I live in Etobicoke, but grew up in North York area so my go-to mall has always been Yorkdale. Last year, Yorkdale created a new wing expanding their mall space and underground parking system. My friend’s company provided the sensor lights in this new wing parking lot (green light for available space, red for occupied, blue for handicap parking) and throughout the whole mall, there’s an electronic board that indicates which lot has an X amount of spaces left. Sadly, Canada seems to be years behind in technology for the things you are currently enjoying in SK.

    6 years ago
  22. In the UK I have a little electronic thing to open the front door to my block of flats, but a key for the actual door to my flat. That’s pretty much it lol ><
    Although I do live in London and I'm completely spoiled by the public transport here. The tube system takes you pretty much anywhere in London and usually you never have to wait more than five minutes for a train. Plus 24 hour buses! Never have to worry about getting home ^^

    6 years ago
  23. I live on the outskirts of Montreal, but don’t go very often. I believe that there are signs of some of the bigger, general parkings nearby around that tell you how many spots available there are, 2 or 3 streets away.
    One thing I think I take for granted is our TV remote. I’m sure they are available in more countries but they’re pretty cool! By pressing one button, it can change to the DVD input, turn on the television and DVD aaaannnd dim the lights for your cinematic pleasure! Also, lost remotes are a huge problem in this house and it’s quite nice to to be able to have an app that an act as a remote as well.

    Another cool technology that I find I take for granted is some of security systems. We have a small camera that is aimed at our front door and other places that is motion activated. It records whenever there is movement in the house and is again easily accessible through smart device (not just apple). We can be halfway across the world and monitor the going-ons live at our house if we wish.

    And finally. I have started using a device called the fit bit. All it is is really a glorified (but very cool) step counter. It’s quite accurate, counts flights of stairs as well as distance travelled approximate calories burned, and more. As someone who thought I would never use it and that it wouldn’t motivate me, boy was I wrong. It’s just a little thing but it’s really cool and gets me off my computer and makes me go out to get more steps. Again, this connects to an app and can monitor progress of others who have one. As competitive as I am, the fit bit makes me try to walk more and exercise more to keep up with my friends. On the app itself you can also log food eaten, other exercise and more. Also it’s tiny and has an easy clip to hang anywhere on your clothing (on bras is handy for girls) or just to put in your pocket. Wow, advertising much? :)

    I hope this was helpful! (sorry for spelling mistakes…)

    6 years ago
  24. What does happen when there is a massive power outage? Are there manual back ups for your apartment doors and what not?

    6 years ago
  25. i am in USA New England area and by the casinos. well the casino have sign that say if the garage level is full and what is available it does not say how many are left. the door thing is still very very new to us here but with At&t security system we are closer to cool doors where do don’t need a key. that is the one thing my hubby really wants when we get a house of our own,

    6 years ago
  26. I’ve seen that light system on a parking lot in Mexico Ciy a few years ago. The part where you can just pay with your plate number is new, though.

    6 years ago
  27. lmao? coming from egypt where theres literally no technology (u have to be super rich to even hav an AIR CONDITIONER) and donkeys and cows on the streets to america was a HUGE deal for me but now i realise that america isn’t all that advanced at all :'( i’m still grateful for what we hav but it could be better *sigh*

    6 years ago
  28. Canada is slowly catching up with technology in the parking garages. I’m not sure about other cities, or provinces/territories, but at the airport in Nova Scotia, they’ve got 3 levels and as you enter each level there’s a sign that tells you how many cars it can hold and how many spaces are available. It also has it so that you can just drive right into the garage, park, and then before you go across into the airport you have to print your ticket, and then you come back you pay the same spot. When you leave the garage you show the stub and you’re good to go! But you’ve still gotta lean out your window to get you little sheet of paper to stick in your windshield at other places. We’re slowly changing! Slowly…

    6 years ago
  29. Although I don’t live in California, I have seen the red and green light systems in some parking garages of bigger malls. It was so genius to me since they aren’t in the state I live in, but other than that Korea basically has the coolest technology ever. And the US thinks they’re advanced…

    6 years ago
  30. Honestly, there is one question I have been most curious about Korea, and this TL;DR reminded me to ask: Are clothes dryers just not a common appliance? I ask because I can’t recall EVER seeing one in a kdrama or Korean film, though for whatever reason the washing machine is often shown. Then you’re talking about ceiling fan clothes drying. I get the feeling clothes dryers are just not that common abroad, period. I knew someone from England who said she had a washing machine in her apartment, but had never had a dryer in her entire life. Is it because they use too much energy? Also, does Korea have laundromats? It doesn’t seem like it.
    This could be your next TL;DR. How clothes get clean (and dry) in Korea.

    6 years ago
    • The frontload washer that are common all over Korea are generally combination washer and dryer. The problem I see is if I put on a load of clothes to wash and put it on a setting that will result in the clothes being dry when the cycle is done, it takes 4 hours. Therefore it is easier to do one load and then hang it out to dry. That way I can go ahead and start the next load of wash. (and it saves energy)

      6 years ago
    • I’ve lived/been in three other countries long enough to know about the respective country’s dryer habits. Which is to say: Pretty much only the US uses driers regularly.
      I was in France for about two weeks with a host family and clothes were all line-dried.
      Japan, clothes were all line-dried.
      Korea, clothes were all line-dried. The washing machine DID have a drying function on it when I lived with a host family – but it wasn’t allowed to be used for energy conservation reasons.

      This also extends to dishwashers. In both Japan and Korea, dish washers existed BUT nobody used them except like a drying rack. (I can’t remember for France but would assume it’s probably the same).

      And continues on to Air conditioning. I’m so used to centralized air conditioning and not thinking twice about it. Japan and Korea had air conditioning units for rooms which were used very sparingly. (In fact, the two monthes I was with a host family in Korea, I think they didn’t turn on the A/C unit ONCE.) It also happened that Korea had some issues with their power plants and so while I was at a summer internship, the government had passed a law that buildings should be at 26 or 27C and no lower than that.

      As for laundromats, I saw at least one, though I didn’t use it. They may have just been there for the students in the area. I can’t say how common but I wasn’t on the look out for it either.

      6 years ago
    • Niiiiccceee… :)

      6 years ago
  31. We have nothing this awesome in the US (that I’ve seen)! I’m so jealous.

    6 years ago
  32. I live in Florida and after seeing this video I feel like I have been living in the stone ages.

    6 years ago
    • I say the same thing in Pennsylvania. When Simon and Martina talked about the parking garages I definitely felt the technology gap. Plus the U.S.A barley has any Eco-friendly technology.

      6 years ago
    • Same thought here in Kentucky… we are behind a lot when it comes to regular people technology.

      6 years ago
    • Me too, though I live in Texas.

      6 years ago
  33. At a few of the car parks in the UK we have the green/red light thing for parking spots and they also have blue lights to show if that space is a disability driver space, but yeah we still have way to go to catch up with Korea. I don’t know if it “blows my mind” but it’s really freaking nice when the hand dryers in public loos actually work. There’s these dyson ones we’ve had for a couple of years now that make it feel like your hands are being dried by a jet engine rather then the ususal sneeze from a kitten powered dryer.

    6 years ago
  34. I think Yorkdale Mall in Toronto now has those screens near the parking lot entrance notifying drivers of the number of vacant spots. Thank goodness because parking there can be horrendous! Although, if you park near The Bay or Sears of any mall, there should be more spots. XD

    6 years ago
  35. Here in Portugal we also have the motion sensible escalators and the parking lots with red or green lights. We don’t have none of the rest, at least that I know of.

    6 years ago
  36. The only thing I can think of that is like that in the USA is at some of the newer Target stores have the lights in their freezers from the frozen food isles off until you approach them to save energy.

    My boyfriend and I discussed this once and wondered how much energy was actually being saved versus how much energy was used having to frequently turn things on and off. I guess it would depend on the intervals in which people would use these things and the item itself (like, some light bulbs’ lifespan are based on how many times it has been turned off and on, for example)..but yeah. In Target’s case, I would like to assume since they spent all the money on this technology that they would have researched and used the most efficient light bulbs for their purposes, but then again, they could be using it as a gimmic to make people believe they care a lot about the environment, and therefore make up that money they spent with the customers they would be gaining.

    6 years ago
    • But if they are LED bulbs then the on/off cycling really doesn’t add to the cost, but then if it’s LED bulbs they barely cost anything to run constantly, anyways. It then ends up just being a way for them to “show” their customers that they are being energy conscious without actually doing anything.

      6 years ago
  37. Here in Mexico we actually have those lights for the parking lots, there in a mall call

    Parque Lindavista and is sooooo helpful
    God bless technology

    6 years ago
  38. Here in Mexico we actually have those lights for the parking lots, there in a mall call

    Parque Lindavista and is sooooo helpful
    Gos bless technology

    6 years ago
  39. that parking space green and red light idea is so cool!!!

    ahahaha in Fresh Prince, Hilary writes the address on her (50 million) house keys and drops ’em all over LA!!

    my country doesn’t have cool tech!! sucks!!

    6 years ago
  40. “common in your countries” NO!!! Is awesome. In Mexico there is nothing of this technology. My dream is have a Roomba!

    6 years ago
    • Roombas are the greatest! In college I didn’t really have any furniture, instead I bought a Roomba – priorities, right!? – that I named K9 (yet another Dr. Who reference!). It’s like having a pet, but they cleanup messes instead of making them ;) If you can, check something like amazon or ebay. You can get them a lot cheaper and live the dream!

      6 years ago