Film & TV Travel

7 Things K-Dramas Don’t Tell You About Living in South Korea

K-dramas can be so believable, that you catch yourself thinking: “Ganyan kaya talaga sa Korea?”

Korean dramas are here to stay whether Philippine politicians like them or not. The skillful storytelling of K-dramas weaves real with reel — tackling universal themes such as personal struggles, family, and societal issues, leaving viewers captivated and wanting more. These are the usual cultural tropes that audiences love to watch.

As a K-drama lover, I was surprised to discover the following about the country of K-pop, K-Beauty, and kimchi while living in Korea.

1. Koreans are not rude, unfriendly, or loud.

Let’s get this one out of the way. Koreans are always portrayed as loud, unfriendly, generally rude, and bitchy people in dramas. They actually aren’t. In fact, they’re nice, helpful, and kind people. Unless you intentionally piss them off, then of course the gloves are off and all niceties are out the window. Language and tone differences may lead people to think they’re unfriendly – but that’s just really how they speak. Koreans are a nice, friendly bunch. Now, go make a new friend.

Reply 1988 cast (Photo credit: tvN)

2. Unattended belongings? No worries!

In South Korea, it’s generally safe to leave your things unattended in public places. Kinda makes you feel embarrassed for your own country, doesn’t it? Locals are able to leave their valuables in coffee shops, seats, and train station waiting areas for long periods without their items getting lost. (This writer tried the same by leaving a bag of groceries on the table of a coffee shop and guess what? It was still there after taking a quick trip to the washroom).

It’s common to find laptops, phones and tablets in public places like cafes in Korea – and they don’t get stolen. (Photo credit: Koreaboo)

3. Rooftop apartments aren’t really a thing.

But beer and chicken shops are. Apartment buildings in Korea range between five to 20 stories — living on the rooftop would prove to be uncomfortable for the common person. There are still a few three- to five-level apartment buildings that make use of the rooftop as a common area, however. Sometimes even as a place where you can eat chicken and drink beer. They’re common in the Itaewon and Hongdae area.

Rooftop apartments? Nah. Rooftop bars? Yes, please! (Photo credit: Go To Hongdae blog)

4. After-work team dinners are mandatory.

You know how K-dramas often use the after-office dinner or hoesik as the pivotal scene where the main character finally does something big? Well, these dinners are considered essential in a typical Korean’s work life. Hoesiks are considered tedious since you’re still required to behave as if you’re at the office. Lately, these team dinners have gotten some flack, bringing about significant change in the Korean corporate culture.

After office drinking with the boss and colleagues is a long-standing corporate culture form of bonding called Hoesik. (Photo credit: tvN)

5. You’ll always be caffeinated, no matter where you are.

Coffee consumption is part of their daily routine. With over 76,000 coffee shops as of 2019, coffee culture on this side of the globe is booming. Apart from the usual coffee chains such as Starbucks and Ediya Coffee in Seoul, there are quirky cafes you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Some even have sheep, alpacas, and dogs that sit with the customers.

6. Piggyback rides aren’t cute in real life.

Don’t go walking around Seoul or Haeundae Beach in Busan looking for couples giving piggyback rides. There is zero possibility of encountering couples giving each other piggyback rides when they’re drunk or sleepy. That is pure cutesy K-drama fantasy (which we love!) IRL, they’ll most likely take a cab home to avoid being a nuisance to others.

Piggyback rides of couples? Def in k-dramas only! (Photo credit: MBC)

7. Last but not least…

We hate to break it to you, but there is no oppa with an umbrella to shield you from sudden rain. Come to think of it, rain doesn’t usually fall that suddenly in South Korea or anywhere in the world for that matter. Usually, you’ll have time to take out your own umbrella or run for shelter. However, I’m not one to judge if you’d still like to see if a handsome man would actually run to your rescue. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oppa to the rescue? Uhm, no. (Photo credit: tvN)

K-dramas attract and captivate audiences around the world, but their allure is in the fantastical and romantic lifestyles they portray. Not that we mind! We love a good escape.

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