Thursday, August 22, 2013

Paul's Country Review: South Korea

Korea and I didn't necessarily see eye to eye. For the most part, I liked the individual sights/activities we did, but the country, on the whole, was not my favorite place. It was dirtier and smellier than I would have thought and it was some of the most muggy, most humid, disgusting climate I have ever experienced. 

It was not without merit though. We were able to shop for a Samsung car, Samsung ultra HDTV and a Samsung suit (apparently they do men's clothing) all on the same block. My main complaint is that it wasn't available in the same building - it's all the same company Samsung why am I crossing the street? This speaks volumes about the many inefficiencies that is Korea. For example, we took the high speed rail to some small city north of Busan and it took 20 minutes or so - that's great because its 2 hrs by bus. The train station, however, is out in the middle of nowhere and you have to take a bus for an hour or so to get to where the original bus would bring you before transferring to a local bus to get where you need to go! Thanks for building the high speed rail to East Jabib, now I can visit nowhere that much faster! 

Another ridiculous, inefficient concept is the Korean bar. Christine and I just wanted 1 or 2 drinks somewhere quiet before turning in for the night and found it to be one of the most difficult, yet laughable experiences during our visit. There are little restaurants serving beer everywhere and it was very busy in our little neighborhood (Seoul) and could get quite loud, especially Sunday night to Thursday night - I can only assume the weekend is to go into some kind of coma in order to recuperate before starting it all over again. Anyway, every couple of restaurants there would be a "bar". We never learned our lesson because we continued to fall for this. We would go up the stairs to what looks like a bar. There's the bar with stools and 1 or 2 taps and a couple of booths. The bartender comes out from behind the bar (why are you leaving the safety of your bar - this is your sanctuary) to show us to our seats, not allowing us to sit at the bar and hands us the menus. We can order a beer for a couple of bucks or we can order a bottle of scotch for around $250 to $300 - that's it. Maybe that explains why these places are always empty - so how do they stay open?  I believe they are fronts for some illegal activity and they didn't want us there anyway, so we quickly leave. We did manage to find one bar in Busan and we were able to sit at the bar. The bartender, however would not make eye contact because we were not worthy and had to conduct business through an intermediary, who came out from behind the bar, showed us menus and stood extremely close to us, waiting for our order. I wanted a scotch and asked what they had because it wasn't on the menu, she insisted everything they had was on the menu pointing to the vodka, I got up and pointed to what I wanted behind the bartender (who still wouldn't acknowledge us), and we quietly listened to the techno blasting from the speakers. Feeling very uncomfortable, we left and headed home.

Bar Purple was one of the non-bars we tried

The other "bar" was called Carmen

I told these two stories  about inefficiency because I wanted to share something extraordinary about Korean efficiency. First, I talked about how Samsung  (and their nemesis LG) makes everything there and second I briefly touched on the everyday Korean's pattern of working 15 hour days and then drinking all night before going home and doing it again the next day (unless the weekend - no one does anything Friday or Saturday night - weird). What I am so excited to share is that Samsung has created nanotechnology. Installed in their suits it will detect spilled booze or vomit on the suit. Once detected the suit contacts the Samsung car to let it know the driver is drunk. The windshield turns into a Samsung ultra HDTV so the driver thinks he is driving home, but the car is driving itself, delivering the guy home safely so that he can return to his job at Samsung to work his 15 hour days lost somewhere in the abyss of middle management. Pretty cool right? Eat sh*t LG! Here are some irrelevant photos for you to ponder on.

G'day Sir

Closest thing to a normal bar although extremely awkward maybe because it was a Saturday

No way! A Korean Restaurant IN Korea?

This is proof that the mole people do exist and they are starting to come above ground

I don't even know what to say

Enjoy your life

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