So you’re living and working in Korea and are lucky enough to have a friend or loved one come to visit you. Lucky duck! Maybe they can bring you an extra pair of those thongs (alright, ‘flip flops’ for those of you gasping) you like, or some Vegemite, or Pascall Pineapple Lumps, or ALL OF THEM.
Maybe that’s only the Aussies.
Whatever they bring you they’ll be expecting you to play the tour guide in return. What have you got planned? The pressure is on. They might never come back to K-Town and if you aren’t careful, the only memories they bring home might be of soju headaches, stern ajummas, ridiculous cell phone adornments, and maybe a temple or two.
Of course, there’s so much more to modern Korean culture, and, luckily, you can do them almost anywhere. Here are ten that you could even do in one action-packed weekend.
Start your chingu’s indoctrination on Korean-y things with a visit to a DVD bang to watch a Korean movie. Be sure to point out the special features, such as The Box of Tissues, Bin Below Tissues, Ashtray For Use After Tissues, and Mouthwash Dispenser (in the bathroom).
Sanitize your hands and go get some BBQ. I would exchange my Aunt Madge in return for unlimited Korean BBQ for the rest of my life. It’s one of the few dining occasions where I don’t even have to pretend that I’m there for any other reason but to STUFF MY FACE with meat—which, if I’m going to be honest with you, is the reason I go to most dining occasions.
Unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, or simply don’t like BBQ (what’s WRONG with you?!), it’s probably something that characterises your time in Korea. And, it’s a weekly affair for most Koreans, making it more than worthy of this list.
After BBQ, stretch out your tambourine-shaking wrist and drag your protesting companion to the nearest norebang.
“Oh nooo,” they will protest. “I can’t sing. No. You don’t understand, I can’t!” Oh yes they can. And yes they will, because you and I know that
a) norebangs are so Korean-y that they must be included on this list and,
b) you are possibly as bad as I am at singing (i.e., your face goes red and veins struggle to burst from your neck from the sheer effort your vocal chords go through in an effort to sing Zombie) and yet you still love it.
4. Photo sticker shop
Hopefully it’s still early enough to dart into a sticker photo shop and take some sufficiently hilarious photos of you and your buddy in absurd poses. I only did this for the first time recently, with my poor boyfriend no less, and now I want to go EVERY DAY.
Go, jump around and look like an idiot while getting into poses that the machine sets, and then apply clip art like a maniac before the timer runs out and you accidently wind up with poop graphics for a border. FUN!
5. Family Mart
You’ll need to settle down after all of that fun, so head to your nearest Family Mart, grab some soju and Hite/Cass/Vitamin Water, take a seat out front and chat about how much fun Korea is until the harsh dinging of the cash register becomes a rhythmic musical soundtrack.
6. Cocktail in a bag
Kick on to a cocktail-in-a-bag shop for a way too strong moscow mule (or whatever) and play chicken with the numerous cars weaving through the tiny street (that’s how it is in Daegu, anyway) as you make new friends and introduce your companion to old ones. The one I go to even has fireworks! Booze+cars+explosives = Normal weeknight in Korea.
After one, two, or five cocktails in bags, hitting up a game arcade seems like a great idea. And if you’re quite inebriated, you won’t even care that Koreans are laughing at you and your hombre on that impossible dancing-machine-game thingy. Try your hand at winning a hilarious prize from one of those claw machines that I refuse to believe are rigged. Loaf of Bread Toy, one day you’ll be mine.
8. Street food
While your friend’s sense of judgment is still soju- and cocktail-impaired, take the opportunity to get them to try some street food (though let’s face it, it’s probably the least culturally intimidating street food in the world). Take them to a pojangmacha cart, wolf down some of that DELICIOUS chicken in a cup and finish off some spicy tteokbokki together.
After so many exciting Korean-y activities, it’s time to relax. Take advantage of the cheapest accommodation in Korea and head to a jjimjilbang. If you and your tourist are the same gender: bonus! Step up that friendship level and partake in the very Korean pastime of Getting Clean At The Spa In The Nuddy With Friends.
10. Inappropriate footwear tour
Now that you’ve introduced your buddy to the comforts of sleeping on the floor with a block for a pillow, head off to the nearest Touristy Area for a glimpse of the Inappropriate Footwear of Korea. It can be a temple, beach, or hiking trail, as long as it has rough terrain and a gradient. Hang about for long enough and you’re sure to see Korean women emerge, teetering on six-inch heels as normally as if they were shopping in Myeongdong. Truly a unique cultural experience.
Well done, tour guide. You’ve earned your pineapple lumps.