Signs You’re Becoming a Seoulite

I am coming up on a year of Seoul right now and it’s got me thinking about how my lifestyle has changed. Here’s a list I’ve compiled with the help of a few other waygookins of ways to tell if you are becoming a true Seoulite.

-You’ve been to a kpop concert

-Then you got over kpop

-But still might defend it to friends back home

-You have an opinion about Lee Min Ho

-Wearing shoes in the house is an unforgivable offense

-You watch dramas to “practice your Korean”

-You know what a꽃미남 is and have a strong opinion about them

-If you go to an restaurant and an array of kimchi and pickled side dishes aren’t provided, you feel cheated.

-Dinner, dessert, and drinks are likely all rice based

-You know how to handle the table grill and can tell when the 산갑살 is just right.

-You have a favorite bubble tea chain (Gong Cha for life!)

-They know you at the local 김밥 천국, and they don’t try to give you a fork or an English menu any more.

-Even a low key night with friends will probably have a few minutes of photo time at some point.

-Most of your friends will be holding up two fingers in a little peace sign by their face.

-Sometimes you make that little peace sign.

-You’ve become really concerned with skin care

-You own a face mask, maybe more than one and one is designated as your “nice” face mask

-If the weather says “foggy,” you know that really means smoggy and you need to wear a mask

-You dread line 4 and 1 around 6 pm- any lines really

-But you know know some of the best shopping deals are underground in subway malls

-You’ve experienced near death by taxi at least 16 times. This week

-You have a signature noraebang song

-You’ve learned how to tell if a bar or noraebang is a nice one or the type that sells company for the evening

-Occasionally you write a Hangul letter where you meant to write a Roman character

-You have shoes specifically for monsoon season

-Service is what you ask for if you want free samples or 20 extra minutes of noraebang time

-You know that getting in with the local Adjhummas is the key to many things

-You hold hands with same-sex friends

-You bring a box of fruit if you are invited over someone’s house

-You give strangers directions voluntarily

-You don’t really notice the stares anymore

What were signs that you were going native? How have you found yourself adjusting to life in another culture?


one bad apple, or sometimes a bunch

Sometimes it’s easy to get a little relaxed in Seoul. Even though it’s a huge city, it’s crime rate is quite low. People leave their laptops unattended in the coffee shop while they go to the bathroom. You don’t have to be as vigilant about things like that as you would have to be in cities like London, Rome, and Paris. But as a woman living and traveling alone, no matter how safe the city you have to be on guard.

Recently, a foreign woman was gang raped in Seoul. She went out with a friend, not on her own, but this group of men locked her friend in the bathroom apparently. Even in a place where your laptop is safe, your body might not be. Especially if you are a woman.

Every foreigner in Korea has had strangers talk to them. People are curious about you or want to practice their English. Some people approach you in ways that are awkward, uncomfortable. Especially when it’s a man approaching a woman on her own.

I have had an uncomfortable experience with an adjhussi in the subway who showed too much interest to my friend and me- even to the point of grabbing my friend’s arm.

I guess the point of this post is to be honest and open about the experience of life abroad. Even in a somewhat safe city, there are always bad people to watch out for. Especially a woman alone, who looks different from everyone else around has to keep an eye on the people around her.

Buddha’s Birthday at the Cheonggyecheon

Buddha's Birthday at the Cheonggyecheon

This natural stream was closed off for many years, but then reopened to cool down the center of the city. Here is an array of paper art on display in honor of Buddha’s birthday.