One of the things that I find most interesting when I visit other countries is the differences that exist between my culture and theirs. Often times what a Westerner thinks is odd or peculiar in another culture is completely normal or natural for them. I can just imagine the thoughts that must go through the minds of visitors to the United States when they see some of the things unique to us.
Since this interests me so much, I take a lot of pictures of those things that turn my head. Most just wind up in a file on my computer, but some of the most unusual ones I like to share. Understand that in posting these pictures I’m not making fun of, or ridiculing, Koreans in any way. Like I said, what seems odd to a Westerner is often very normal for them. I post them here just to show what I find to be unusual, through my Western eyes and the differences that exist between our cultures.
By the way, if you find this post interesting, keep coming back. I’ll add the odd and unusual here as I encounter it, acknowledging the fact that admitting what I view as “odd and unusual” may label me as “odd and unusual”!
I see a lot of Koreans sleeping on the subway. This woman kept going to sleep and would lean on me.
This elderly Korean noticed a tattoo on my Chaplain Assistant and started talking to him. He was all smiles and seemed very happy.
I thought the rolling bag seemed more Western than would be expected here (and thought that my wife would like it…since it has flowers).
This gentleman was eating lunch with a statue. It didn’t seem unusual to anyone else passing by.
Koreans do like their Spam! It seems like they have an unusual attraction to it, even giving it as gifts.
Another Korean falling asleep on the Subway…my Soldier took it like a trooper!
I was surprised to find a Goodwill Store in Suwon.
I found this sign funny. Koreans don’t strike me as being bowlers.
Asleep again on the subway!
A Korean cutting up fish on the street.
An elderly Korean woman selling her wares on the street. It seems odd to me how many booths, kiosks and carts line the roads, often with many of the same things for sale.
Many Koreans still move thins with manpower.
Many of the foods Koreans eat I just don’t find palatable.
My kids used to make sandwiches like these when they were little. I can’t believe they sell them here!
And then there’s the strawberry sandwich…
Instead of liquid soap dispensers in the public restrooms, many of them have bar soap, on a stick.
Sorry, I found this mannequin creepy!
On the way out-of-town on the train, I saw this woman sitting on a cardboard box. When she started looking through the garbage at the restaurant next store, I went to a convenience store and bought her a sandwich. I didn’t see her eat it, but she walked away with it.
You can’t tell as well in the picture, but these fixtures are all miniature for children. It’s was in the Men’s room in the Yongsan Station.
One of the Korean lunches I had. I really don’t like my fish looking at me when I eat it!
At the district assembly of a Christian church, they used a locked ballot box for one of the elections. Is there really that kind of lack of trust among Christians?
This happens in a lot of countries. I’m sure many Americans are fooled by this “Hooters Snack Bar”!
Nearly every convenience store sells squid in various forms. Yuck!
A woman with her baby on her back at a Suwon bus stop. Seems like that baby is a bit big for that kind of carry…
This one isn’t so unusual, but after I bought some of her art work, I asked if I could take a picture of her. She wanted it in a good place in her shop, and posed appropriately.
I found this amusing. This old couple was at the Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, with a beautiful scene right in front of them, but they were painting from photographs.
Just a couple of puppies on the back of a scooter.
I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like this in the U.S. but I’ve seen them a lot here. It gives you the ideal location to take a photograph. 8 May 2016 Update
Many motorcycles have these racks on the back. Some have things stacked way over their heads.
The way the ROK Soldiers at the JSA stood struck me as funny. It’s like a combination of “attention” and “parade rest” with clinched fists.
Koreans have unusual candy flavor mixtures.
Very unusual mixtures. This one is “chili nut” M&Ms!
American Indians in Korea
A group of Buddhist women taking a break between “performances” at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.
A group of Koreans in traditional dress at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.
A disabled man was pulling himself through town, while pushing a box. You can’t say that he just sat around waiting for a donation. I gave him a few thousand won but it never seems like enough.
This scene struck me as funny. Two girls in traditional Korean dress tied to their cell phones. 14 May 2016 Update
There are a lot of ethnic restaurants in Seoul. It seems like an extremely large amount…Here’s a Turkish restaurant with a Turkish man in traditional Turkish dress.
Compared to American trucks, I find Korean trucks very unusual (their cows look the same, though).
Riding on the subway is always interesting. As a large American, I have to squeeze into the smaller Korean-size seats. It’s also funny how so many people sit on the subway on their phones.
A little Thai boy came and sat down on the subway and started talking to one of my Soldiers, asking all kinds of questions, with just a little occasional help from his mother. I was surprised at how well he spoke English, and how he knew to speak it to my Soldier.
The escalators get packed after a subway opens its doors (the “down” side). Koreans don’t seem to mind being packed together like sardines.
A large selection of snack foods, most of which I haven’t and likely won’t try. Sorry.
These ladies struck me as interesting. When I think of “Roman Catholic” I think “Western.” It was unusual to see Korean women in dress I perceive as from a Western institution. I also found it intriguing to see them in very conservative dress surrounded by a woman with dark red lipstick on one side and short-shorts on the other…cultures colliding… 21 May 2016 Update
There are homeless everyone (any country you go). This man was right outside the subway station in Suwon. It seems like giving a few dollars (or won) isn’t doing enough to help!
It’s funny how job sites provide slippers for workers to wear inside a near-complete building so as not to damage the flooring. I don’t remember seeing this in the U.S. when I worked on construction sites.