YOU WILL BURN IN HELL!

During a summer Saturday night I met 3 PHD students from South America in Itaewon district, well known for bars and restaurants. In this area of the city, many expats (most of them Americans) and young Korean people hang out often, especially during the weekend.

In fact, there is a huge American military base next to this area, installed after the war of Korea, so at the beginning Itaewon was a place where American soldiers got fun and relaxed.

I was enjoying of a fresh beer in a terrace, when a Christian predicator started to scream using a megaphone, in an apocalyptic way saying: YOU WILL BURN IN HELL! BECAUSE YOU ARE DRINKING ALCOOL IT’S AN INVENTION OF SATAN!

I reply using the same way to speech: I’M NOT SURE, BECAUSE JESUS TRANSFORMED WATER ON WINE FOR CONTINUING THE PARTY, SO JESUS REALLY APRECIATED THE IMPORTANCE OF ALCOHOL!

The predicator replies: well, you will not burn in hell because you know the bible very well and you know Jesus! Alleluia!

I save my soul hopefully

&&&&

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Pimp My Face TV show

There is a popular TV show called ‘Let me in’ in South Korea which entertained my nights after a hard working day.

The participants of this emission have been chosen meticulously by the staff. In fact, they only chose people with heavy appearance problems, as asymmetrical faces, bended noses, bald young people, and many other abnormal conditions which made their lives miserable.

The second selection criterion (Yes, that isn’t all), and the most important, was to lead a miserable life of discrimination, bullying, depression and with self-esteem problems.

What a lethal combination:  heavy appearance problems and a horrible life, all that in a TV show!

Fortunately, showing their miserable daily lives wasn’t the only goal of this TV show. There were hope and a happy end for this miserable people. A complete face-teeth-nose-chest-abdomen-eyes-hair surgery was offered to these people.

Of course, during all the TV show, those people were presented as circus phenomena, and then, after the whole plastic surgery, as new objects or TV celebrities, with fireworks, smoke and lasers.

They were completely transformed in a new person, like the cars in the TV show ‘Pimp my ride’

Korean Barbies: 100% natural beauty

Plastic surgery in South Korea became very popular over the past 10 years.

Most of the girls and some boys, who don’t look like South Korean beauty standards, do it as a need.

There is only one “model” of beauty, so at the end, all Korean girls who got a plastic surgery look the same.

It normally starts just before the university. In fact, some parents offer it to their children as a High school graduate gift. The less lucky ones have to work hard during the summer before going to the University to pay it.

Strangely enough, a plastic surgery can make a difference to get a good job, a husband (I’m not kidding, this is very important in South Korea) or get a rise.

There are about 500 plastic surgery clinics in Gangnam District alone, and perhaps it is one of the only places on earth with such a high density of plastic surgery clinics on earth. (That’s why the singer PSY made a song about Gangnam “Style”).

If you take the subway in Seoul, there are many ads promoting special prices for plastic surgery.

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I really thought about retouching my face paying a few ₩ hahahaha!

M.E.R.S Zombie Apocalypse

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When I arrived to South Korea, this country welcomed me with a serious national health issue: the ultra-infectious and deadly MERS virus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

During May and June, 186 people in South Korea were infected. More than 16,000 people were isolated at hospitals or homes as authorities struggled to stop the spread of the disease. 33 people died, in a 50 million inhabitants’ country with a high population density.

Many restaurants were closed, pedestrian streets were empty, shopping centers closed and the use of a mask was imposed when taking public transportation and while working at the office….  Seoul looked like a ghost city.

The origin of the MERS virus comes from a 68-year-old man who was visiting the Middle East in May. He returned to South Korea from Bahrain and Qatar on May 20. The first deaths were reported on June 2.

To understand the impact of MERS virus on the economy, compared to the same quarter in the previous year, the economy expanded by 2.2%, below the Bank of Korea’s current target of 2.8%.

As far as I’m concerned, it was horrible, in fact, before going to South Korea, I got bronchitis, so every 2 minutes I coughed like an old dog, so all the people in South Korea thought that I was infected by the MERS virus…. What an uncomfortable situation, I felt like a radioactive zombie.

But the worst thing was the prohibition by Samsung Motors to organize and participate in after works, during one whole month… It really affected me and my colleagues.

Mutant vehicles in Jeju island

I spent one weekend in Jeju Island, which is located in the south of South Korea.

Basically, this island was created after a huge volcano eruption.

I was very happy to visit the countryside and natural monuments in a quite technological and modern country. In fact, in this island there are a lot of space and few small villages, in contrast to Seoul.

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As a cars aficionado, I was really surprised by new cars in South Korea, but in Jeju island it was different. I thought that the time had stopped there

Visiting the island, I found 3 strange, but interesting vehicles that I’ve never seen in my life.

The first one was an ugly mix of a small truck, a small tractor and a mini jeep, designed to be used in the country.  In fact, between the side wheels, this “truck”  was equipped with a water pump and a power generator.

Very useful for country labours. I really appreciated this compact concept of a jeep-truck-tractor vehicle.

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I also found a strange motorcycle-tractor, I really don’t know how to describe this machine. Basically it was composed by an engine with 2 wheels, and 2 handles, connected with a trailer, where the driver and the passengers are seated

What a strange thing….

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Finally I saw the strangest Kombi that I have ever seen in my life:

It was a small commercial car completely customized

Mayby it was a kia “Towner” micro van

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I didn’t see any Korean hippy inside…

Summer dress code

Summer has come, at 7AM the air conditioners are on everywhere and aren’t enough to stop sweating.

Summer in Korea means high humidity, rain and heavy sun radiation.

For Korean people, the sun is an enemy, and tanned skin (on Korean people only, not for foreign people) isn’t considered attractive, on the contrary, it means that you belong to low social classes.

Keeping a perfect white skin is a major issue for Korean society. That’s why they created a lot of artefacts in order to protect their skin.

The first time that I saw a woman wearing a visor hat, I immediately thought of the protagonist of an American TV series called “The flying nun”.

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Then, I discovered another kind of hat which seems like a Star Wars soldier helmet.

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I also thought that I was in Saudi Arabia when I saw an anti-sun mask covering the entire face of a woman, but the colors were too flashy.

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Anyway, in my company, they didn’t force us to use this kind of funny sun protectors, they just allowed us to wear shorts in order to improve our productivity and comfort. Of course, there was a dress code to respect!

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Strange objects to solve daily problems (anciently)

 

The best way to know the roots of Korean culture and ancient lifestyle, is visiting the Folk Village, next to Suwon.

This place is an open-air museum recreating an ancient traditional village, where a lot of jobs and daily life tasks are explained in an interactive way. You can also find cultural activities, tradition food and ancient houses.

The goal of this museum is to avoid losing their roots and identity in a society where western culture is taking a lot of place.

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It was very interesting for me to understand the way how Korean people used to organize and solve daily life problems, from an eastern point of view.

For example, during the summer, the weather is very wet and hot, so the only way to sleep in peace without sweating, is to sleep with this magic pillow (picture below). It allows the air to circulate and dry your sticky skin.

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Sometimes it could replace your wife hahahhaa.

Another amazing and painful stuff was the toilet paper at the time:it was straw! (picture below).

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Toilets were like Squat toilets, there was a hole in the floor… and no water.

Just think about it 2 seconds.

★★★★★ Restaurant in Sokcho, South Korea

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I spent a week-end in Sokcho city, placed in the North-West of South Korea. Basically, the city is between the mountains, where you can visit the Seoraksan national park and find the beach and the highest mountain in Korea (1500 meters).

My goal was to visit the national park one Saturday afternoon, but the bus that I took was delayed for 2 hours, so I was forced to spent one night in the city, because I arrived too late to visit the national park on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, the city was quite boring, sad and ugly. There were some restaurants, a commercial area and…. nothing interesting to see.

I was completely disgusted to spend a night alone in this city, but everything has changed when I went to the best restaurant of all my life.

I visited several restaurants, and all menus were written in Korean and nobody was able to speech in English, French or Spanish, so I just went to the first restaurant with a picture of the food.

This restaurant was fabulous, chic and very clean. On the table, there was a used Starbucks cup to put away the chopsticks, a recycled bottle of Pepsi to contain fresh water, toilet paper as napkins, and the “chef cuisinier” tested twice the soup, putting the spoon in his month and then in the soup again…. Of course, he prepared the food while touching money and his hair several times.

Fortunately, I was vaccinated against hepatitis A, B C, D , E ….W, X Y Z

I said to myself, my stomach is indestructible.

How to survive during a business meal in South Korea

Twice I got the chance to attend a business meal with 2 providers after a meeting in the morning.

I will give you some advice to avoid a cultural shock (level 100000).

They will prefer to bring you to a traditional Korean restaurant if you are a foreigner, to make you see how Korean food is generous and good. In this case, you have to be able to show your comedian skills and play the part.

In traditional Korean restaurants, there aren’t any chairs, so you will spend about 1 hour seated on the floor (it hurts, but you have To show that everything is ok). In this kind of meal, you won’t eat in 10 minutes as I told you in my blog, so you will have the permission to chat with the people, because when you are making business you have to show interest to your interlocutors and create bounds. In fact, during the meal you will all share small plates, with different kinds of food. Don’t be shocked if someone grabs your plate while you’re eating, or if your business partner farts or burps in your face (OMG). Strange noises are usual and it doesn’t mean disrespect (poker face attitude is needed in this situation).

The atenders ask you if you need a fork. This is the perfect moment to impress your boss, and show your super skills using Korean sticks! I’m sure that they will appreciate it. Even more if you say that Korean food and kimchee are delicious!

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Hangover, a public health issue

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As I already told you, South Korean people love drinking alcohol, most days of the week. As a result, hangover is a really problem: they mix a lot of low quality alcohol and drink it very fast. It has an impact on Korean productivity, so the country becomes less competitive. Fortunately, there are a lot of solutions. Hangover is a real business in South Korea. In fact, there are many miraculous hangover solutions on the market and even in some restaurants. For example there is a hangover soup made of algae, mushrooms and a secret ingredient that you don’t want to know what it is… The most popular hangover solution is distributed in small cans or bottles which you can even find in the cafeteria of your company. The most famous brand of this type of products is called “Dawn 808”. It’s a cure drink made of algae and plants which tastes horrible: I was forced to try it one day to save my life. The man on the picture of the “Dawn 808” can is the inventor. He even got an award equivalent to the French “légion d’honneur” for this important progress for the country and its productivity. Indeed, it really really works.