La La Land [랄라랜드]: a fictional place where wandering, sleeping, or dreaming minds are metaphorically said to end up.
With my flight back home being just around the corner, the final week I spent in Korea ended up being bittersweet.
Leaving this place behind was definitely one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life, despite having a special acquaintance begging me to switch flights last minute and spend more time with them.
Today, I’m going to share with you the highlights of my stay in Korea.
Although I’ve had a lot of great moments during my trip, my most memorable ones were:
- Looking for BigHit‘s old and new headquarters.
- Attending an Epik High performance and meeting Tablo up-close.
- Going to Seoul Central Mosque.
- The DMZ festival experience.
- Soul searching in Han River.
Pros & Cons
Just like any country, Korea has its perks and downsides:
✓ Safety: you can enjoy late strolls at night without fear of being approached or harrassed.
✗ Staring: in the street, on the subway … Yes, people tend to stare A LOT.
✓ Cleanliness: the streets are aesthetically clean, to some extent.
✗ No trash cans: if you buy some food to go, keep in mind that you will be carrying litter in your hands until you make it home.
✓ 24-hour convenience stores: feel like grabbing a snack at midnight or 4AM? Be my guest!
✗ Crowds: that includes subways, shopping streets, festivals, and basically every leisure area, especially during holidays.
✓ Shopping: as much as shop brands and retail stores are available everywhere, sales period makes the shopping experience a hundred times better!
✗ Halal food: albeit being largely served in the busiest districts of Seoul, the meal is sure pricey!
Truth or Myth
Since I don’t watch a lot of K-Dramas and variety shows, my knowledge of stereotypes is relatively limited. Still, I managed to verify a brief list of clichés that I have either noticed on my own or been told about.
Public display of affection
Just like in K-Dramas, couples don’t shy away from being all lovey dovey with each other. Love is truly in the air! However, witnessing this on a daily basis kind of makes your heart ache when you’re riding solo.
I was approached by a lady who wanted to introduce me to her church. I found it more funny than freaky because the headscarf on my head clearly showed that I was Muslim. Still, I admired the fact that she addressed me in English in an effort to have me join her cause.
In all honesty, I was expecting to receive a fair share of racism during my stay. But as it turned out, I was only being racist towards myself for assuming that I would be labeled based on my appearance. In fact, and as I have said it time and time again, I have never felt like I belonged anywhere the way I did in Korea.
Yes, it’s a thing in Korea. No, it’s not only part of K-dramas plots.
My friends and I actually fell victims to sexual harrassment a couple of times on the subway. In both times, the culprit was an old man. The #MeToo movement should definitely include this widely observed phenomenon as well.
Whenever I heard that a certain Korean celebrity was a smoker, I used to be taken aback. But when I actually saw for myself how much Koreans smoked, the news wasn’t as shocking afterwards. Luckily, smoking is prohibited in public places, and smoking booths are made available which is equally convenient for both smokers and non-smokers.
How Korea met my expectations
Remember when I asked you to lower your expectations? Again, my expectations were met with nothing but eternal bliss, literally.
The most vital detail about my trip was that I got to grant my sister’s ultimate wish to visit Korea, and none of this would’ve happened if it weren’t for her.
As a sum up, I got to know myself better, test my limits, and rediscover my potential by exposing myself to a whole new culture. The sacrifice I put before, during, and after this trip was absolutely worth it. Every bit of it.
That’s all for today! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more Hallyu gems. Until I see you next time, thank you for reading me.