South Korean Cultural Quirks That Will Make You Want to Say "Wa Daebak!"

South Korea is a country that offers an intriguing blend of old-world traditions and modern-day innovations. From its bustling metropolis to its tranquil countryside, there are endless opportunities for travelers to explore this fascinating culture. However, beyond the typical tourist attractions lies a wealth of unique experiences that only South Korea can offer. In this blog post, we'll delve into some unusual things about South Korea that every traveler should know before embarking on their journey. So grab your kimchi and get ready to discover the hidden gems of South Korean culture!

Unusual things about South Korea that travelers need to know by

Unusual things about South Korea that travelers need to know

The Demilitarized Zone

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a 248-kilometer long, 4-kilometer wide strip of land that separates North and South Korea. It's one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world, with barbed wire fences, landmines and watchtowers.

Despite its name, there are actually military personnel stationed on both sides of the DMZ. However, it remains a symbol of division between two nations that were once united.

Visitors can take tours to explore the DMZ from either side of the border. While it may seem like an eerie attraction at first glance, it's also an opportunity to learn about the complex history and politics behind this divided peninsula.

One highlight of any DMZ tour is visiting the Joint Security Area (JSA), where soldiers from both sides stand face-to-face in tense silence. Visitors can even step foot into North Korean territory - albeit briefly - as they cross over into one of the conference rooms used for negotiations between North and South Korea.

While visiting The Demilitarized Zone may be an unusual experience for travelers seeking thrills beyond typical tourist attractions, it offers a unique insight into decades-long conflict and ongoing political tensions between these two countries.


K-Pop, or Korean Pop music, has exploded in popularity around the world in recent years. It's a unique blend of catchy tunes and intricate dance moves that have captured the hearts of millions.

What sets K-Pop apart from other genres is its emphasis on groups rather than solo artists. These groups often consist of several members who are carefully chosen and trained for years before they debut. This results in perfectly synchronized performances that leave fans mesmerized.

The K-Pop industry is also known for its strict standards when it comes to appearance and behavior. Idols must maintain a flawless image at all times, which includes adhering to strict diets and beauty routines.

Many K-Pop songs incorporate elements of traditional Korean culture as well, such as using traditional instruments like the gayageum or incorporating hanbok-inspired fashion into music videos.

Whether you're already a fan or new to the genre, experiencing K-Pop firsthand while visiting South Korea is an unforgettable experience. From attending concerts to exploring themed cafes dedicated to your favorite group, there's something for everyone in this vibrant subculture.


Soju is a clear, colorless and distilled alcoholic beverage that holds a special place in the hearts of Koreans. It's made from rice or barley and has been around for hundreds of years. The drink has an alcohol content ranging from 16% to 53%, so it's not for the faint-hearted.

Drinking Soju is considered a social activity and part of Korean culture. It’s often enjoyed during celebrations or gatherings with family and friends. Koreans have developed drinking etiquette when consuming Soju, such as pouring drinks for others instead of themselves.

It’s also common to pair Soju with different foods - particularly spicy dishes like kimchi stew or fried chicken - which helps cut through the heat and enhance the flavors.

Soju is readily available in South Korea; you can find it at bars, restaurants, convenience stores, street vendors – everywhere! And it's cheap too; a bottle can cost as little as ₩1,000 (about $0.80).

But be warned: Soju hits hard and fast, so pace yourself if you want to avoid getting too drunk too quickly!

Spicy food

South Korean cuisine is known for its spiciness, and this reflects the country's love for a good kick of heat in their food. From kimchi to bibimbap, spicy dishes are found all over Korea.

One popular spicy dish is buldak - a stir-fried chicken dish that is marinated in hot sauce. The spice level can vary from mild to extreme, depending on where you order it. Be prepared to chug some water or beer if you're not used to eating spicy food!

Another must-try spicy dish is tteokbokki - a snack made with chewy rice cakes cooked in a fiery red sauce. It's perfect for those who want to experience the heat without overwhelming their taste buds.

If you're looking for something even more intense, try ordering jjambbong - a noodle soup that combines seafood and vegetables in an extremely hot broth.

But don't worry if you can't handle the heat! Many restaurants offer non-spicy versions of these dishes or even have separate menus with milder options for foreigners.

South Korea's love affair with spice adds another layer of excitement and flavor to their already delicious cuisine.

Internet addiction

South Korea is known for its high-tech society and advanced digital infrastructure. However, this has also led to a growing concern about internet addiction among the population.

With fast internet speeds readily available, it's no surprise that South Koreans spend an average of 4 hours per day on their smartphones. This addiction can lead to social isolation, physical health issues such as eye strain and poor posture, and even psychological problems like depression.

To combat this issue, the government has implemented various policies including shutting down online games late at night and promoting offline activities through public campaigns.

However, some argue that these measures are not enough and more needs to be done in terms of education on responsible internet use. It's important for travelers to understand this aspect of South Korean culture in order to fully appreciate the country's technological advancements while being mindful of potential negative consequences.

Plastic surgery

South Korea has become famous for its obsession with plastic surgery. It's not uncommon to see people walking around with bandages on their faces or wearing surgical masks after having a procedure done. In fact, South Korea is known as the "plastic surgery capital" of the world, with more procedures per capita than any other country.

The reasons behind this trend are complex and multifaceted. Some believe that it stems from a desire to conform to rigid beauty standards and achieve a certain look that is highly valued in Korean society. Others argue that it is simply about improving one's appearance and boosting self-confidence.

Despite the controversy surrounding plastic surgery, it remains hugely popular in South Korea, particularly among young women. The industry is worth billions of dollars and attracts patients from all over the world who are seeking affordable yet high-quality procedures.

Critics have raised concerns about the risks associated with such surgeries, both physical and mental. However, proponents argue that when performed properly by qualified professionals, these procedures can have positive effects on an individual's self-esteem and overall well-being.

While plastic surgery may be seen as unusual or extreme by some outsiders looking in at South Korean culture, it remains deeply ingrained in society and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

South Korea is a country of unique and fascinating culture that has something to offer for every traveler. From exploring the Demilitarized Zone to experiencing K-Pop concerts, trying Soju or spicy food, witnessing internet addiction or getting plastic surgery done – there’s an endless list of unusual things that make this country stand out.

The customs and traditions of the Korean people are deeply rooted in their history and have evolved over time. Their passion for technology, music, beauty standards, and food is evident in every aspect of their daily lives.

If you are planning to visit South Korea soon, we hope this article provided some valuable insights into what makes this country so special. We encourage you to explore beyond the usual tourist attractions and discover the lesser-known aspects of Korean culture that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on your heart.

So pack your bags with curiosity and an open mind as you embark on a journey full of surprises in South Korea – truly one-of-a-kind destination!

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