11 Reasons Why I Love South Korea: A Local´s Insight  

I love South Korea. There is just something about it that is so captivating, magical, and unlike anywhere else in the world.

Korea boasts a little something for every traveller. The first mention of the country conjures up images of the bustling megalopolis of Seoul and crowded city streets. However, there is much more to Korea than initially meets the eye.

You are hard-pushed to find travel destinations that are as rewarding as South Korea. This little nation boasts centuries-old temples, awe-inspiring nature, and ancient settlements that are rich in culture. Embarking on a South Korea travel itinerary for a few weeks truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Reasons to Love South Korea

Why Love South Korea
Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan

South Korea is a relatively untapped travel destination. Little is known about it on an international scale.

Korean cities like Jeonju, Gyeongju, Sokcho, and Busan are wonderful travel destinations. They are popular among Koreans and ESL Teachers.

If you visit Korea, you should not miss the opportunity to spend a few days on Jeju island. This tropical paradise is often referred to as being the ¨Hawaii of Korea¨.

But mention a weekend break in Jeonju to most people and they have no idea what you are talking about. While it’s a shame that Korea is often overlooked, in some ways this may be a good thing.

South Korea has definitely not experienced overtourism like many of its neighbour Asian countries. Travelling in South Korea ensures an authentic experience in a country where you will not be having to contend with masses of tourist crowds.

Korean food is delicious!

10 Reasons I Love South Korea 
10 Reasons I Love South Korea

Hot damn! Did somebody just say BBQ?

If you have travelled a fair bit, you have probably had an experience in the past where you have really gotten tired of the local food in a country you were travelling in. It happens to most of us at some point.

You may begin to crave familiar foods. Or you may have gotten to the point where you felt that you couldn’t bear to see another bowl of *insert name of relevant local dish here*.

Fortunately, Korean food is incredibly diverse. You could spend a month in Seoul and eat a new dish every day.

Better yet, many of Korea’s noodle dishes, jiggaes (soups), and marinated meat dishes are suitable for a western palate. Korean food delivers just the right blend between Eastern and Western cuisines.

Korean street food is a large part of Korean culture. This is a great way to eat out without breaking the bank – perfect if you are traveling on a budget.

Here are some foodie suggestions for your time in Korea:
  • Try traditional Korean street food at Gwangjang Market, Seoul’s oldest street food market.
  • Visit Ansan multicultural street, home to the majority of Korea’s population of migrant workers and lots of tasty international foods.

Seoul is the beauty capital of the world!

It is a widely-known fact that Seoul is the beauty capital of the world. There are cosmetic stores, beauty salons, and nail bars on virtually every street corner. Not to mention, Korean cosmetics and skincare products have received major international recognition in recent years.

In 2018, the South Korean beauty industry was estimated to have a value of more than $13.1 billion. The Korean cosmetic industry is more than 10 years ahead of its American, European, and Western counterparts.

While you are in Seoul, you may want to consider treating yourself to a facial. That way you will get to experience the secrets of that fresh, glowing skin that is uniquely Korean, for yourself.

Shangpree Spa in Cheongdam offers indulgent facials and is beloved by movie stars, K-Pop singers, and the Seoul elite. You may also want to consider getting a body scrub at a jimjilbang.

Koreans are welcoming, fun-loving people

Why love South Korea
Beautiful Busan, South Korea

Korean people are very kind and friendly. For the most part, Korean locals have a genuine interest in meeting people from other backgrounds and cultures and learning about where they come from.

During my time living and travelling in Korea, I met many people who went out of their way to be kind to me with no expectation of anything in return. This is a rare quality to find in the world today.

Korea has a fascinating history and culture

Korea is rich in history that dates back centuries. There are hundreds of ancient temples and historical sites dotted throughout the country. Rest assured, you will always have plenty to see and do.

Korea is relatively new to international tourism. In recent years, there have been a lot of initiatives by the Korean Tourism Board to encourage foreign travellers to visit the country.

A lot of attractions are free or very affordable to enter. Initiatives like the Korean Temple stay program give you a wonderful opportunity to learn about this vibrant country.

There are constant events and festivals

Every time you walk past Gwanghamun Square, Seoul there seems to be something going down. Whether that is old Korean ladies dancing around with tambourines, or North Korean food shows and live music.

Koreans have some pretty unique celebrations within their annual calendars. For example, Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Hangeul Day (Celebration of the Korean language).

There are also some damn strange and “only in Korea” type festivals also. The Kimchi festival and the Boryeong mud festival are two such examples.

Koreans have a huge passion for outdoor culture

10 Reasons I Love South Korea
10 Reasons I Love South Korea

Seoul is often depicted as a bustling megalopolis. However, that is far from reality. 

As a matter of fact, 70% of South Korea is mountainous. Hiking is essentially the “national sport” of Korea. Many trails and mountain ascents can be found just a short distance away from central Seoul making a perfect day trip from the Korean capital.

Even if you are travelling Korea solo, there are numerous hiking groups across the country that organise regular hiking trips and excursions. Check Couchsurfing, Meetup.com, and WinK (When in Korea) for the latest events.

Korea is a Coffee Addict’s Paradise

10 Reasons I Love South Korea 
10 Reasons I Love South Korea

Coffee culture is huge in Korea. There is a coffee shop on virtually every street corner in Seoul. Many of these have been decorated with quirky, and often downright eccentric themes.

Many Seoul coffee shops were photogenic and ¨instagrammable¨ before being instagrammable was even a thing. Hell Cafe is one place to add to your radar if you are a fan of quality coffee.

Many of the baristas working here have won awards and are recognised as being among the best in the country. Meanwhile, the C. Through Cafe is renowned across Seoul for its detailed coffee art.

C Through Cafe founder Lee Kang Bin creates the most detailed designs out of his creams and cappuccino froths. They are almost too pretty to drink! Everything from Studio Ghibli characters to Pokemon has been featured in his cups.

There is a large international community

10 Reasons I Love South Korea
10 Reasons I Love South Korea

A combination of Ex-pats, ESL teachers, Travellers, and fun-loving Koreans make for a great community of people to socialise with in Korea. There are so many like-minded people living or passing through here with similar interests.

You can check apps like Couchsurfing or Meetup to find events taking place during your trip. Korean and English language exchanges are popular and are another great way to both make Korean friends and learn some hangul.

Koreans follow the mantra of work hard, play harder

It is true that Koreans have some of the longest studying and working schedules in the world. However, they party just as hard.

Who cares if it’s a Tuesday and you have to be up tomorrow? Bars and clubs rarely have a closing hour and there’s no open bottle rule so it’s perfectly acceptable to swig your makgeolli on the subway on your way to the next party.

Korean lifestyle goes beyond the dull western working routine of working a 9-5 and living for the weekend. Koreans work hard but they certainly make use of every moment of free time they have available.

Korea is a safe country

Korea is a very safe country. Since the country has such a nighttime culture, even walking home late in the evenings there will always be people around.

But it isn’t just that. Having respect for other people and their belongings is so deeply ingrained in Korean culture.

You could easily venture into a coffee place, leave your things unattended at your table for a while and wander off. When you got back, you would be sure to find that all of your things were where you left them.

What other countries in the world could you say that about? Even solo female travellers can feel very safe in Korea.

Public transport is cheap and efficient

The subway is super efficient and cheap in Korea. The Seoul metro network extends out of Seoul central into neighbouring districts of Suwon and Bucheon.

Express trains exist to make longer journeys faster and more manageable. Rest assured, you won’t find it tricky to get around during your Seoul itinerary.

A city bus to any stop in Seoul will not set you back more than $2 at most. When travelling cross-country by bus or rail, you will rarely spend more than $30 on a ticket.

Parting Words

These are the 10 reasons I love South Korea, although when I sit and think about it there are many more. Have you been to Korea? What do you love about it?

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

23 thoughts on “11 Reasons Why I Love South Korea: A Local´s Insight  ”

  1. Very nice things mentioned about Korea, I had two South Korean friends and reading this reminded me of them… the food and culture and the temples and their history are very alluring reasons for one to like Korea for sure(:

  2. I really wish I had had the opportunity to visit Korea as a tourist. I lived there for 2.5 years and I will say that experience made me dislike the country quite a bit. Its quite a stressful and mundane place after a few months. It’s so beige! I digress, though. I’m honestly super happy you enjoyed your time there as it is an incredible place to be for a short period of time. Long term – not so much. Regardless, I’d have to say my favorite aspect of Korea is that there are so many mountains. I have a lot of respect for the elders in that country – they’ve gone through and experienced so much. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  3. I feel the same way about missing Korean food! I lived there for 4 years and would always cook like a quesadilla to self-soothe after a particularly tough day, but now that I’m in the states…. I do the opposite! I’m constantly looking to Korean food for comfort. I’d say my top 2 things I miss and love (other than my lovely little lovebugmonster students) would be Kimbap restaurants and the hiking. Would you ever consider moving there?

    • Haha I can understand that! I’ve lived abroad a few times, and always really missed peculiar food items that I take for granted in the UK, then in the UK miss all various stuff from my travels.
      I am moving there to teach in Suwon! My flight is tomorrow actually. Super exited! I know living somewhere is different to visiting but excited for the experience 🙂 whereabouts were you living in Korea?

  4. Thanks so much for sharing about South Korea. I have to admit I’m one of “those” who does not know much about the country. Judging from your post and experience, it seems like a great place to visit. I am quite interested in exploring the food and landscapes. Definitively adding South Korea to my bucket list. Great write up!

  5. I’ve never been to Korea but, I really, really want to go someday. In fact if I hadn’t been successful in getting my current job (cabin crew) I was going to take a TEFL course with the goal of moving out to teach English. Now I am just waiting to get trained on the Dreamliner so I can go with work haha! I also highly recommend CosRx skincare if you haven’t already tried it, the snail treatment and sleeping mask are fantastic 😀

    • I hope you get chance to visit! It is a wonderful country 🙂
      Haha at least it worked out for you! Best of luck in your new job.
      CosRx is a brand that I haven’t tried yet so I will take a look. Korean beauty products are so good – definitely a highlight to being here! I am not sure if they are available internationally, but I really like Innis Free (all products with natural ingredients made in Jeju), Nature Republic (They also have a great snail range!) and Etude House (really cute packaging!) check them out if you are able! 😀

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