Tag Archives: busan

Notes on Korea

Sometime in the last 25 years, hanja seems to have disappeared. That makes Korean a lot easier to read for us non-Asian types who didn’t spend 12 years learning Chinese characters in school.

You won’t get mugged in Korea, but you might get run over. It’s the only place I’ve seen someone talking on the phone while riding a motor scooter. On the sidewalk.

Korean people don’t seem given to wearing shirts with bizarre English on them the way Japanese people are, but almost every shirt I saw with writing on it was in English, usually an American brand of some sort. I think some of them were fake brands (one shirt simply said “Authentic Genuine”), but they looked like American brands. That seemed to be the main thing.

Passport control was just a matter of taking fingerprints and a photo (Japan did that too) and stamping my passport. Customs just took my form and put it on a pile without looking at it. I think it was the easiest entry I’ve ever encountered.

Other than the traditional hanok-style buildings with the sweeping roofs, there isn’t a lot of what you would call architecture in Korea. On the train from Seoul to Busan, the cities I saw were all miles of high-rise apartment buildings done in what you might call a Soviet style, with a smattering of Christian church steeples.

Everyone in Korea is doing something on their smartphone at all times. It goes far beyond anything in the US. Not surprisingly, most of the phones are Samsung or LG.

In Busan I saw a man wearing a shirt that said, “The Funniest Man in the World.” So that’s where he lives. Busan.