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Top 10 Misconceptions About South Korea

With the recent death of dictator Kim Jong-Il, all eyes are on North Korea (or, as it is ironically named, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). Consequently, it seemed appropriate to post a list about its thriving neighbor, South Korea. South Korea is Nestled between China: the world’s most massively populated country, Japan: the cultural Mecca of East Asia, and North Korea: the most bizarre warmongering country on the Earth. It is no surprise then, that South Korea often fades into the mix. South Korea is a fantastic country that deserves more attention than it gets. That being said, there are numerous misconceptions about this country that I call home. I, for one, had many and thought you might benefit from my cataclysmic culture shock. Enjoy!


Koreans Love Americans


When you ask the average American what they know about South Korea they will mention the Korean War. The assumption that we were ‘the great saviors who came to their aid and that they are eternally grateful to us’ isn’t quite true. Many South Koreans believe that the Korean War was just a battle between the USA and the USSR, in which they were the pawns. After the war, American soldiers stationed in Korea have caused many problems, drawing enormous social backlash. There are countless examples of this, but two notable events are the 2002 armored vehicle accident where a US tank ran over and killed two middle school girls, and the 2011 incident where Pfc. Kevin Flippin broke into the home of, and repeatedly raped, an 18 year-old South Korean girl.


Polluted Waste Land

Talking to older Koreans you’ll hear tales about the years following the Korean War. They say all the trees were gone from the mountains. There was no food. Children died from exposure. That is not the case now. Korea has the 15th highest GDP in the world, and it shows. It is extremely well-developed, with shining neon lights everywhere you go. The air is mostly clean and the mountainous terrain is gorgeous. China is nearby but, believe me, this is not China. The song in the clip above is Arirang – a national song in Korea that stirs emotion in all Korean people (South and North Koreans).


Packed Full of People


One image that comes to mind when many think of South Korea is a river of black haired Asians moving down the sidewalk, or flowing in and out of the train. It can be a strange experience when you first find yourself in a subway car packed full of Asians, but it is not the norm. The truth is that the Korean population is very condensed in the Seoul region, but that is only a small part of the country. Places like Jeju Island and Gangwon Province feature amazing landscapes and are not heavily populated.


Fear of the North


My parents ask me to come home constantly. They tell me about some news report from North Korea stating a plan to “reduce Seoul to dust.” Despite what you might think, South Koreans do not run in panic, looting stores and building boats when they hear such threats. Think about it like this, if a big tough bully has been saying he’s going to beat you up for the last 50 years, but has done very little actual violence, how afraid would you still be? This is especially amazing considering that the North and the South are technically still in a state of war, as no peace treaty has been signed – merely an armistice, which is an agreement to stop fighting temporarily.




You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that South Korea is roughly 22% Buddhist, 29% Christian, 46% Atheist and the remaining 3% spread across a variety of other religions. As you walk through the streets of Seoul, it’s hard to miss the red neon crosses that top almost every church. In fact, Yoido Full Gospel Church is the largest church in the world with about one million members. Though Buddhism was very influential throughout Korean history, it has become increasingly unpopular and struggles for survival in the midst of Korea’s ever-growing Christian climate.




I remember telling my friends that, minus sumo wrestlers, I had never seen a fat Asian. I thought South Koreans were all thin, rice-eating, kimchi-consuming health freaks. That is not the case! Since the financial boom in the Seventies, South Korea has welcomed numerous fast-food chains and pizza franchises. And as you might have guessed, the introduction of those western gems has had quite an effect on many people’s waistlines. Nevertheless, Koreans (and Japanese) are the thinnest people in the world per capita.


Submissive Women


If you’ve got some image of Korean women cooking meals and quietly cleaning homes while men work nine to five, you’re partially wrong. It’s true that South Korea is a very patriarchal society, but Korean women are not as powerless as you might think. The ajumma (Korean married woman) is renowned for being strong and determined. If there is an empty seat on a subway train, an ajumma will overcome all odds to get it. The husband might bring home the money, but he is not necessarily the boss at home. That title is almost always held by the wife who controls finances and all household decisions.




Well, South Korea places 7th on the United Nations Education index for good reason. Koreans are serious about education. Even Obama touted the 13 hours a day South Korean children spend in the classroom. But what he did not say is that public education is very similar to that of the USA. Students who spend an abundant amount of time in a classroom have parents willing and able to handle the costs of after-school programs and private academies. Thus, wealthy parents in Seoul and the surrounding areas tend to have quite studious children. But even that is not a guarantee. Korean students often rebel against the laborious education system and take jobs after middle school. The ‘studious’ stereotype has no doubt emerged from Korean exchange students that pour into the West. These students are from very wealthy families. The average income in South Korea is $2300 a month. Many parents of multiple children cannot afford the additional costs of private education.


Dominated by China or Japan

Hwacha Firing Photo

There’s no doubt that Korea is positioned in a tough spot between the military powerhouses of Japan and China. Throughout history, Korea has done battle with both and, despite what you might think, they sometimes won. Actually they maintained their independence for over five hundred years in a period called the Joseon Dynasty. They invented an iron-clad war ship that was very effective in their naval battles, as well as the Hwacha, which launched 100-200 flaming arrows at their enemies. The great and powerful dynasty was only brought down by Japan, after they acquired modern western weaponry. To this day, Koreans preserve their own unique cultural heritage of which they can be proud.


Irish of Asia


When people say this they are referring to a fiery temperament, alcoholism and having a big powerful neighbor that has ransacked their country countless times. Of course, Korea and Japan have had a long history similar to that of Ireland and England, but they are by no means the same. As stated earlier, Korea enjoyed long years of prosperity and security during the Joseon Dynasty. It is true that South Koreans have a fine appreciation of alcohol. They also have a “fiery temperament” compared to the Japanese. Japan and England have both defined their neighbors as wild and reckless, though it is likely that these generalizations are less matter of fact and more cultural intolerance.

[JFrater: If you want to read more about daily life in South Korea, check out Eat Your Kimchi. I know Simon and Martina personally and can vouch for the fact that you will get many many hours of pleasure out of their video blog.]

  • Batman


    • ARSE

      No one f**king cares about these stupid nations. The last list was on Africa. Africa, are you kidding me. We do not care about these stupid “misconceptions” people on this list constantly bash countries that are actually good, and they pick these sh!t holes like korea and africa and praise them, and somehow look past just how sick and worthless every human in them is.

      • Bored

        Obviously we can tell by your name that your an idiot. You posted a whole paragraph to someone who just wrote “Interesting”

      • Alecto

        Just because you don’t find it interesting, doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone. All countries have their own unique and interesting history; maybe it would do you some good to learn about them.

      • adam

        You’re trying too hard

      • nanana

        “We do not care??” who is we exactly?

        and why are korea and africa shitholes?
        please explain, maybe you could make an interesting objective list??

      • Will

        Ironic, isn’t it? That these misconception lists are targeted towards people like you. Ignorant trolls who so blatantly call these countries “sh!tholes” (ahem, Africa isn’t a country) and their people “sick and worthless” while these lists are showing that it’s not the case! And what’s funnier is the fact that YOU are complaining about people “constantly bashing countries that are actually good”. Nice username by the way…

        • VoiceofReason

          You guys have to relax. The dude was bored. He just wanted to see who’d get ticked off. Well done, Arse. You’ve lived up to your name. :D

          • MC

            If you think he was joking then you sir are also ignorant. Maybe if you two would actual go to South Korea like me, then you would see the true nature of this nation. P.s . I have lived in South Korea for several years in the past.

      • Joong bal

        I hope you become bald and no one will like you, unlike my peefect south korean thick mane.

        • AtlantisSkye

          He probably already is obese and bald with chronic acne and bad BO among other reasons (like being an ignorant git), with nobody to love him. We need to leave him alone in his own little ignorant neo-nazi shithole of a life.

    • JM

      If you think eastern stereotypes are bad well just wait for the lying stereotypes taught in their 13 hour classes of history. Korea and Japan have the worst true western history teachers in the world. I know for a fact as my wife is from Japan. Why are Asians so worried about western stereotypes? Northern Asians are the biggest hypocrites in the world. Just ask any native Japanese or Korean that migrated to the west, especially to the US or Canada would defiantly agree that their stereotypes are just total BS.

  • corinthian0430

    very informative, i had a lot of interactions with south koreans, and this list says it all :)

  • David Hopkins

    Wow! Another list of misconceptions about a place in the world. I really don’t know enough about Korea to say I’d heard any of these misconceptions before.

    • Metalwrath

      Jfrater apparently has about a thousand lists pending, so don’t hold your breath. And why would you answer your list before it is even published, and on another list? No one will go back to yesterday’s list just to see your answers..

      Self importance much?

      • John

        Your comment makes absolutely no sense what so ever in regards to the comment you replied to.

        • DanF

          It did earlier, some of the replies have messed up and changed locations. This forum has had some bugs the last few days.

  • corinthian0430

    Hmmmm… no list entry on their karaoke/videoke prowess? :)

    • Metalwrath

      That has to be true then. In and Asian neighborhood in my city, karaoke is genuinely everywhere. Quite hilarious.

  • habitu8

    Hooray! It appears we’re no longer stuck in 1999!

    • corinthian0430

      And Frank will be sad to see a non-gay list :P

    • Fid

      Don’t hold your breath. After a bunch of comments in real time, the world changes and we travel back in time. Check back later to see if reality has gone haywire.

  • corinthian0430

    The japanese derogatively call all koreans – “dog eaters” and “garlic eaters”.

    Korea’s old name was “Chosen”

    • RigorTortoise

      I can understand why “dog eaters” would be derogatory, but “garlic eaters”?

      • nanana

        garlic makes you stink…
        maybe that’s why? anything that anyone else does thats different
        can be used to ridicule them

  • yeah

    >implying the USA isn’t the most warmongering country on earth

    • Isa

      Ya i gotta agree i, good one. I bkmeoarokd you on Digg under “K-POP? | K-POP World”. Thanks.

  • snickersman

    Cool list. It is always great to learn about different cultures.

  • Sylko

    Wow I did not have most of those beliefs about South Korea. Maybe because I live in Cali where there is a large Korean population (& I used to work for a Korean family as a tutor/governess).

  • corinthian0430

    “We have just reached our 2,000th article and 400,000th comment! Congrats everyone! :)” – so glad it wasn’t the ghey list :P

    • Fid

      The ghey list?

  • Liz

    Ok, the 2nd photo is amazing. I’m going to South Korea on my next vacation!

  • VintageObsessive

    Why would being the first to comment matter?

    • Frank

      It matters to retards like Susan who lack the intelligence to comment on the subject matter.

  • astraya

    The Korean alphabet (hangeul) is one of the best, linguistically, in the world, despite (or just maybe because of) being designed by a committee. I had assumed that Korean writing was squiggles like Chinese or Japanese, but it’s a real alphabet, based on linguistic principles. The letters are based on circles, squares and straight lines. An important feature is that letters are grouped into blocks corresponding to syllables.

    The king who convened the scholars group stated that a wise man could learn to read in a day, and even a foolish man in a week. Despite this, hangeul was little used for centuries. Learning Chinese characters (adapted to Korean words) was the mark of learning, and hangeul was despised as being for women, children and peasants. It wasn’t really widely used until after the Japanese occupation, in order to assert their independence. (Korean schoolchildren still learn Chinese characters, with noticeable lack of enthusiasm.)

    The only things I knew about Korea before I researched possible places to teach English were 1) there was a war there (I didn’t even know that Australia had sent troops); 2) there was TV program set during the war; 3) there was a maniac in the northern half of the country and 4) the Olympic games had been held there.

    I learned a lot, lot more in the next two and a half years!

    • sorcy79au

      Good post! Did you know that hangeul was based on the shape of the mouth/tongue? That’s how the letters came about.

      • That very fact is the reason it took me a mere one hour to learn the Korean alphabet off by heart. The Korean alphabet is probably the easiest to learn – but the language itself one of the hardest.

        • sorcy79au

          I know right? I can read it but buggered if I can understand it. But hey, at least I’m trying

        • fendabenda

          You’re right, Koreans don’t use the frikking kanji! It’s impossible to learn all of the kanji characters in one lifetime.

    • habitu8

      Fascinating information! Thank you for making the list even more interesting.

      • astraya

        sorcy: I knew that. I was trying to keep my comment from being over-long, but your short explanation shows that I could have included that information succinctly. I sort of bundled that up in “linguistically”.

        Jamie: I must admit to being semi-foolish in taking several days. During that time I spotted some Korean signs around the suburb where I was working. But my first actual reading of Korean was in the Sydney CBD. I painstakingly figured out “si-deu-ni – no-rae-bang” from the hangeul, then realised that there was “Sydney karaoke” in English letters right next to it.

        habitu: Thanks.

        • sorcy79au

          Haha! Oh dear, that’s funny. I tried to be all smart and read something in Korean (the name of a bucket of lollies) to my sister and I said it with Korean pronounciation and then she said “Is it Any Time?” and I was all how did you know THAT?? She turned the container around and it was written in english on the other side…I felt like a right knobber.

  • WafflesWafers

    #4 – “…if there is an empty seat on a subway train, an ajumma will overcome all odds to get it.” – This is VERY true. :D

    • I suspect you will like this site: Stuff Korean Moms Like – if you have any knowledge of Korean moms or ajummas – you will love it. Hilarious stuff.

  • sorcy79au

    YESS!!! Awesome list! I love South Korea.

    And I can confirm that Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi are both hilarious and educational. I frequent their website daily for updates as well as I’m a friend on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

    • Having spent an evening in Hongdae partying with Simon and Martina and the awesome Daniel Gray of SeoulEats (and O’ngo food communications) I can assure you – they are as hilarious and entertaining in real life as they are in their videos.

  • Bill

    South Korea also has an extremely high rate of rape, too.

    • Metalwrath

      really? Are you sure? That kind of surprises me. I’d of thought it was like Japan, with a very low criminality, thanks to a homogeneous native population and civic people.

      • Missy

        I would agree with you there, Metalwrath, but no country, government, rules, regulations, etc are perfect. There will always be problems. However, this list is fabulous. Seoul would be a great place for a holiday.

        • sorcy79au

          It was an awesome place for a holiday. I have VERY limited knowledge of the language and got by perfectly fine, the city is absolutely beautiful and the food is so delicious and CHEAP! A huge meal for 2 people came to AUD$14. And I came back home to Australia and it costs about double that to get that sort of meal again…not cool…

    • Sunset1ahahah

      You are saying more like Japanese
      Most of them say that with their fraud statistics

    • That’s what jealous Japanese usually say

    • Phillies

      Actually, Korean Police department has really high arrest rate on most of all crime; 11th place on crime rate and 1st place on arrest rate . First, every Korean citizen get their finger prints scan at age of 18. So, everyone is in “the system.” Second, running away to other countries is almost impossible with warrants on their head. Because, North is blocked by North Korean, East, West, and South is surrounded by sea.

  • HelloGrumpy

    who cares about this overrated country

    • Frank

      Failtroll is fail

      • HelloGrumpy

        Will you tell me the difference between trolling and stating an opinion?

        • sdf

          stating an opinion that seems like you told it to everyone just to make them angry at you is trolling

          • HelloGrumpy

            Well, I don’t care if they get mad at me. It’s my opinion. Apparently, there are lots of narrow-minded people around internet who cannot respect someone’s opinion.

          • Maggot

            If you’re going to go “aound the internet” broadcasting your opinion like a self-righteous and not caring if it angers people, then you can expect other people to voice their opinions about your opinion. Why should yours be respected if you don’t respect anyone else’s?

  • inconspicuousdetective

    i never really thought much about south korea, but this list has made me curious at the least. nice work.

  • undaunted warrior 1

    I found the list interesting, a lot of the facts were new to me, and you are never to old to learn.

  • jo

    #5…as a people we are not thin….per capita we are the thinnest people in the world. um…way to prove your point.

    • You must have read it wrong – it says that he thought ALL koreans were thin. They aren’t – there are fat ones too. But, there are fewer fat ones per capita than other nations. Hence words like “thought ALL” and “effect on MANY” :)

      • jo

        I believed this was a list of Misconceptions of generalizations…who in the world believes that 100% of a country habitants are thin? that 100% of a country loves America…??? 100% of Americans don’t love America so how can another country do so??

        • BOONE

          Agreed. Misconceptions are mistaken or incorrent notions. If the general notion is that Koreans are thin, and South Korea are per capita among the thinnest in the world then that general notion is correct and thus not a misconception. Just because a few sit outside of the norm does not excuse the populous as a whole.

          It would be like saying, “It is a misconception that people in prison have committed crimes, since some are actually found guilty.” Wrong. The general notion would be correct that individuals in prison are generally guilty of some crime, however some are indeed falsely accussed.

      • astraya

        Even without the availability of Western fast food, I’m amazed that there aren’t more fat Koreans. A traditional Korean meal consists of a main meal, with soup, rice, kimchi and other side dishes. The first full meal I had in Korea was a dolsot bibimbap with 13 side dishes. When I commented on this to the owner/manager she said “Is all healthy!”. Koreans live at a hundred miles an hour, so I guess they burn it all off.

        • sorcy79au

          Aren’t their meals AWESOME!! So huge and yet so affordable! I was so shocked when I went over there

  • jo

    #5…its a misconception that we as a people are thin…we are the thinnest people per capita in the world. am i the only one who read that right?

    • See my previous reply.

      • BOONE

        See my previous rebuttal

  • shane

    i think it’s funny how you infer irish people are alcoholics then a couple sentences later implied that japanese and british people are culturally intolerant as well as using the usual dumb ignorant american stereotype in the beginning of your list. if the point of your article is to eradicate nationalistic stereotypes then stop making them in your list.

    • DanF

      Its funny because all these misconceptions about countries use blatant misconceptions and stereotypes in an attempt to prove their points. Im glad someone else noticed this.

    • Scooter

      Maybe we should have a new list! Top 10 Misconceptions About the Irish. It’s curious to see how James used stereotypes to describe another country, whilst dispelling ones about his own. However, to be fair he is stating that’s what people believe (not necessarily him). Good list James (bar the controversial last point)!

    • I agree 100%…I just dont understand. I thought all Intellectuals write with reason and leave their opinions out their writing…thats why I loved everything listverse. DAILY FACTS!! Now these lists sounds like the “opinion section” of my newspaper.

      • Ziggy Stardust

        Write some lists yourself then you ignorant uninformed sack of crap.

        • Mira Bel

          Why don’t you take your own advice? Why was all of that necessary for you to say to her?? Terrible.

          • Timothy

            I agree. Some people are just not very nice and they vent their animosity wherever they can.

        • shane

          how does one person state what over 300 000 000 representatives of a country believe when he’s not even from that country? unless of course he’s actually done some elaborate studies on the cultures of japan, britain, ireland, and the united states of america in an accredited post secondary facility, and not just read a bunch of random shit on the internet in the course of a couple of minutes and blended that in with his preconceived cultural stereotypes. i don’t know about you but i hate being stereotyped as an ignorant racist by a person who has no idea of my education or upbringing

  • flgh

    Can anyone clarify whether the Koreans still eat dog meat or if the major religion of South Korea is Starcraft?

    • Yes – Koreans (and many other Asian nations) are still big consumers of dog meat. In korea it is most commonly called bosintang. It is served steamed or in a stew. It is most popular with older folk these days. In Korea it is generally eaten on the three hottest days of the year to restore strength. In China it is usually eaten during the cold season, and I am not sure about places like Thailand etc. where it is far more popular than Korea and China.

      • Sir Steven

        During the time I lived there I was told the consumption of dog meet is decreasing. These dogs are farmed or grown specifically for this purpose. Koreans do not drag “fido” off the streets and turn them into meals. Never heard of Starcraft. The two most prominent religions I saw or came in contact with were Christainity and Buddhism.

        • Sir Steven

          oops! “meat”

        • Xyroze

          Never heard of Starcraft?? That’s like going to America and not hearing about Baseball or half the world and not hearing about Soccer. Video games are a big deal in Korea. To an extremely unhealthy and no longer in any way remotely entertaining degree, at that. Look up some Youtube videos of some professional Starcraft players explaining their APM(Actions Per Minute), it instantly kills any thoughts regarding whether or not it would be fun to play video games competitively as your career.

  • Metalwrath

    The “Submissive women” and “Thin” misconceptions seem to be somewhat true when reading the text…. Oh and the “If there is an empty seat on a subway train, an ajumma will overcome all odds to get it.” made me laugh. Asians kind of do the same in the west. :D

    I had already heard about Christianity being the strongest religion in South Korea. Apparently Koreans make for the most numerous missionaries in the world. I find it kind of sad that Koreans are losing Buddhism to Christianity.

    Fun list, I’d love to visit South Korea and Japan.

  • Ernest J. King

    I know the last thing someone who just posted a list wants to read is criticism (especially when it rises above meaningless “boring!” complaints), but you didn’t address “misconception” 10 (South Koreans’ fondness for Americans) properly, if at all. You say that it is a misconception that South Koreans love Americans, thereby implying that they actually have a negative image of Americans. To support this implication (or, rather, to refute what you allege to be a misconception), you mention a few problems that American troops stationed in South Korea have caused, and insinuate that these occurrences offset any appreciation that South Koreans might have for Americans given that the latter provide military support to them. Nowhere in the paragraph do you actually mention anything that will lead me to conclude that South Koreans actually dislike the U.S.

    Let me give you the good news, then (because I presume that, like any reasonable man, you’d rather see two countries get along than hate each other): South Koreans don’t dislike, hate, or even feel apathetic toward America. By and large, they like us, and considerably so. The latest Gallup survey on the leadership role of the U.S. in Asia shows that 57% of South Koreans approve of the United States as a global (and, in their case, regional) power, with only 18% of South Koreans having a negative opinion of it. The BBC World Service Poll shows an even more marked general approval of the U.S. in South Korea, with 74% of South Koreans having a positive opinion and only 18% having a negative opinion of the U.S.

    This is more or less similar to the situation in Japan, where upwards of 80% of the Japanese people express friendly feelings toward the United States, an all time–high figure. This, despite the fact that shenanigans by American soldiers have also been an issue in Japan, and in large measure attributable to the prompt and thorough military operation that the United States launched to help the Japanese clean up the mess after the earthquake.

    Good list, though. South Korea is a fascinating culture and I’m always eager to learn about it. I just wanted to clarify what I thought was something that deserved to be clarified. Sometimes people wildly exaggerate the scope and magnitude of anti-Americanism throughout the world.

    • Arsnl

      Dude i take surveys with a pinch of salt.
      If someone asks me: do you preffer the us as the global powerhouse instead of other countries (in my head those other countries would immediatly be china). So id say yes.

      If someone asks me if you’d rather have the us as a global powerhourse or a multipole of countries to decide issues (us, bric, eu, japan) id say i prefer it to be several big deciders. So the “same question” gives 2 opposite results.

      • Arsnl

        You ass of a troll!!! Stop using my name wit comments!! At least you use proper use of grammar by using appropriate comma, periods, capital letters and most importantly…proper spelling!

        If you’re going to be a troll and steal my name, at the least don’t look like a uneducated hick!

        • Arsnl

          Cool. I have an evil twin.

          • Arsnl

            I thought we were triplets?!

    • Korean#123

      Nice point you’ve made. However, it’s very hard to say “us” Koreans are in favor to US. Let’s say we have mixed feeling, but more on the negative side. We all know that it’s noting new about American soldiers stationed at off shore base doing some borderline crazy sh…enanigans. And yes, we hate US for that, but what really makes many Korean hate US is those soldiers are not punished. They just walked away from their crime without paying the consequences. But, like I said, it’s a mixed feeling, not 100% hate.

      And about Kor-Jap relationship, Yes, we, Korean, hate Japanese. But, it’s not Japaneses people we hate. We hate Japanese government.

  • Julius

    A list about misconceptions about South Korea doesn’t mention Starcraft? gg wp

    • Arsnl

      I was thinking the same thing. Who knows. Maybe it aint a misconception.

      • It’s not :) There are TV shows dedicated to it.

        • Julius

          There used to be two entire channels dedicated to it (one of them switched to music recently) But from what I understand it’s more of a niché sport there, like WWE in the US.

  • Mitchell

    Terribly constructed list. Is the misconception that South Koreans love Americans or vice versa? Same with Thin. Same with Studious.

    NO.1 Was ridiculous and racist.

    • Terribly misunderstood by some perhaps? The misconception is that Koreans love Americans (these days there is more animosity than ever before towards Americans), and the same with thin – the misconception is that all Koreans are thin – most are – but many aren’t any longer since the introduction of US fast food chains. And again, with the studious item – the misconception is that Korean students are all studious – they aren’t – many are lax (as the article reads quite clearly). And 1 wasn’t racist at all – it even specifically refers to “generalisations” rather than reality.

      • Arsnl

        I tend to think that the asian math whiz kid is more of an american stereotype.

      • Canadianguy

        “(these days there is more animosity than ever before towards Americans)”

        Hardly. It was much worse in 2002. Hate crimes were not uncommon back then.

  • 504KO

    This list sucks!

    • DanF

      It must be terrible having a gun pointed at your head and being forced to read a list that sucks.

      • Sammy

        How would know it sucks, unless she read it?

    • Frank

      ‘This list sucks’ translates as ‘I am an ignorant b*tch who is too stupid to comprehend the subject matter of this list’ Go kill yourself you f*cking troll.

    • cblouin

      That’l learn ya!!

    • nanana


  • Si Si

    I feel like these were just stereotypical misconceptions about Asians and Asia in general. How are any of these things specific to South Korea?

    • Items 10, 7, 6 really don’t apply to all parts of Asia – mostly to Korea. The other entries may appear to be Asian generally but if you know Korean culture you will understand more how these are subtly different with Koreans than other parts of Asia.

  • FallenAngel

    I really like the song I got to listen to it the other day and it seems to have a power behind it. The more I know about South Korea the more I want to visit. I hope someday to have that privilege.

    • You will fall in love with the place if you do. It is amazing – the friendliest people you will ever meet (in and out of Asia) and a nation with a unique and beautiful history. Not to mention the food that is truly outstanding for both its taste and its health benefits.

      • Canadianguy

        I like Koreans, but the friendliest people in Asia? No, that would be the Balinese.

  • soso

    So jfrater hasn’t gotten rid of his south korean fetish. That’s just plain sad.

    • biney

      why is that sad?

  • batmansbrother

    “Japan and England have both defined their neighbors as wild and reckless, though it is likely that these generalizations are less matter of fact and more cultural intolerance.” — generalize? just read back what you have said.. as someone from england with a irish family you opinions make me laugh! go and play starcraft and please please stay out of politics

    • Whipples

      Are you seriously arguing that public opinion of Ireland over the past 700 years hasn’t been shaped by the British?

      Yes, there may be more tolerance now for the Irish, but Britain was a colonial power whose dominance of the Irish people had to be excused somehow – this was done by perpetuating negative stereotypes and theories of racial inferiority (see Punch Magazine of London for example).

      I don’t see what the writer got wrong here – she listed a few negative stereotypes about the Irish in the context of an article debunking stereotypes or misconceptions.

      As an Irish person, born in Ireland and living here, I’m not one bit offended.

  • oouchan

    Never heard of any of these before. I guess some people really need to get out more and learn about the world around them. Interesting for those that wouldn’t know.

    Ok list.

  • sadsad

    I am a South Korean myself and I have never heard of such misconceptions -_- besides i moved to LA 4 years ago and likewise, ive never hearda anything like that -_-

  • vanowensbody

    Nice list.

    All I know of Korea is that my son last year during his freshmen year of college made friends with a Korean boy in his dorm. The Korean boy had no way to get home at the end of finals week so my son drove him home. He told us later how appreciative the Korean boys parents and family were,. how nice they were, and that the parents owned a local Korean restaurant. They of course insisted my son come to their restaurant to eat all he wanted (for no charge of course). My son said the food was terrific and he had never eaten Korean food before.

    So if that family is representative of how Koreans treat people in their own country, Korea must be a good place to visit.

    • DanF

      the USA to South Korea must have have been one hell of a drive :)

  • OmegaMan

    Kim Jong-Il’s death could be summed up well by Oscar Wilde’s quote, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” ;)

    • inconspicuousdetective


      • Abulay

        hi. and we so need to talk….Many new and ecxiting things are happening in the life of Melissia Hays….

  • joey

    Bleh, Korea has to be the most boring country in N-E Asia; Taiwan, China and Japan are far better, with friendlier people and better food.

    • Random Critic

      You know, how about you at least try to learn a tiny whit about the subject before you go and troll it? Maybe you won’t look like such an idiot then.

      • Namuamidaba

        It is the most boring country. What’s with the uninspired pop groups with plastics all over their face and also language that sounds like dog barking. At least china has red river and japan has their occasional serial killers.

        • Random Critic

          Red river? Don’t you mean the yellow river? And if you think all a country’s worth is its psychopaths…you must be a very patriotic person…just saying.

  • Jakeryder

    I always love the lists that debunk misconceptions. They always teach me about misconceptions I never knew existed.

  • As with the misconceptions about Africa list, I can say that I have absolutely none of these misconceptions.

  • asd

    it’s the most idiotic list i have ever heard

    • inconspicuousdetective

      because it was read aloud to you.

  • asd

    the most idiotic lis ever

  • Jiggab

    Good list. Thank you Seoul much

  • Sir Steven

    I lived & taught english on Jeju island for a year and most of your list is pretty much spot on. I also had parents who were worried every time the North “sneezed” or acted up. It was and is just sabre rattling with the north.
    This list sort of makes me homesick, especially for Jeju, which is spectacular!

  • mom424

    What, no mention of South Korean’s love of Canada? I’m disappointed; we have a huge Korean population and it’s growing every day. Of course, because of that I really didn’t suffer any of these misconceptions except one…the population thing. I always figured that was the reason that there are so many South Koreans looking to live here – guess not! And frankly, looking at the country, why do so many wish to emigrate? Of course, the fact that I live in the best country ever probably has something to do with it. :)

    • Canadianguy

      Just as Koreans being nationalistic, it’s not mentioned because it isn’t a misconception.

  • krutboo

    “After the war, American soldiers stationed in Korea have caused many problems, drawing enormous social backlash”

    American troops have also placed their lives in danger for over 60 years at the demilitarized zone protecting South Korea from the insane rulers and their huge army of North Korea. One could argue that the presence of the troops you claim cause so many problems have been a big factor in helping South Korea grow as a country and a world economy.

    • Scrooge

      Correct me if i’m wrong but US soldiers do not stand at the DMV. If they do their life is not at risk, people don’t just start attacking each other through the DMV entrance. America spreads and pollutes like a virus, the only people that don’t realize this are Americans. I take it you also think America is doing afghans a favor by invading?

      • AlphaBase1

        You’re a douche.

      • Canadianguy

        Hey, kid, it’s not the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) but the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).

    • Rischa

      THANK YOU!!!!! And you know what? As far as micsonception #5 is concerned, the reason they have “no fear” is because of the US presence. Let the commanding general of USFK (US Forces Korea) announce they are leaving South Korea, and see how a lot of people go into a frenzy. See how the attitudes change. See how the fear REALLY come about. If their army can handle 1 million soldiers ON THE BORDER ALONE then chances are, they don’t need the US.

      • Rischa

        I meant misconception #7. Sorry…

  • Potato

    The conceptions that I have about South Koreans are that they are all really good at video games and or really good at musicl instruments.

  • Joshua

    I guess it depends on who you run into in your lives, but I can’t say I’ve met many people who assume South Korea loves America. Heck, I think you’re just as likely to find Americans having difficulty distinguishing North from South Korea, and assume both countries hate us. Americans don’t assume Europeans love us because of WWII.

  • Miri

    can’t really say i had any thoughts of south korea at all…

  • seerrrraaaa

    These lists insult my intelligence. I come to listverse to learn, not to be lumped in with the stupid Americans. One misconception of the United States and Americans is that you think that we’re ALL that stupid. I just think it’s sad that you have to make it clear that not all Koreans are thin. NOT ALL AMERICANS ARE FAT! Jesus Christ…

    • mom424

      But tons of them are – fat that is. The lowest obesity rates are enjoyed by Colorado, and it’s pushing 20%. The fattest 12 states? All more than 30% with Mississippi taking the lead at 34.4%. I think you’ll find that those same 12 states have the lowest income and the poorest educational opportunities too. It all goes hand in hand. Pity.

      Canadians don’t do much better btw, as far as fat goes. Average is similar to the USA with our highest rates being in our poorest provinces too. Newfoundland and Saskatchewan both top 30%. And they still talk about, and have, cut gym classes in school. pfft.

      • seerrrraaaa

        okay, but i’m not fat. my boyfriend isn’t fat. my friends aren’t fat. that’s goes to prove that not ALL americans are fat.

        • Arsnl

          “okay, but i’m not fat. my boyfriend isn’t fat. my friends aren’t fat. that’s goes to prove that not ALL americans are fat.”

          Thank you for your passionate comment, but you are hardly a statistic nor, I doubt, that you are a physician. 75% of americans are overweight or obese, so yeah not 100% but 3/4 of the population (aka an over whelming majority).

          It is the 9th fattest country (Nauru, Micronesia, Cook, islands, Tonga, Niue, Samoa, Palau and Kuwait top it by i doubt you’d consider these countries significant in terms of population at least).

          If you compare it with France’s score 42% (country i live in) you’d see why it would be enough for me to say: hey americans are fat. Everybody has that problem, but you people are really masters of it.

          • Fact Checker

            Please state your sources. While yes the United States does have a high rate of obesity it does not come close to the figures you have. the actual rate of obesity are measured between 30-35%, which is extremely high. In fact there is no country in the world that is over 45%. Before you bash something get your figures correct and stop being such a xenophobe.


          • mom424

            my source is the CDC – it tracks obesity. Just plain overweight? Don’t know. Do know that the level of fitness, thin or fat, is just plain pitiful.

          • Arsnl

            Here you go chump.

            Before you start bashing other comments read carefully what i wrote. You give me obesity statistics. Im giving you overweight (which includes obesity) ones. For me fat means overweight.
            Xemophobe? For stating fact? So the fact that you have such a poor diet makes me a hater?

          • seerrrraaaa

            As an American, all I am IS a statistic, so please take your elitist judgement everywhere. I could say the same thing about the French and that they’re all douchebags, but I know not all of them are, just you.

          • seerrrraaaa


          • some guy

            “As an American, all I am IS a statistic”. What? Jesus Christ, you’re stupid.

  • pokee2

    I didn’t think people even believed in these misconceptions, except for the studious bit.

    Number 10 can apply to a lot of countries. America may seem like the superhero that the whole world looks up to, but they’re really not. :/

    I learned a lot about Korea from Simon and Martina, and in a super fun and hilarious way! It’s so cool you know them.

  • Weezer

    Great list!
    I spent a year in Korea and found all this to be true. The list has made me miss the people and the good times I had there. Good job, Mr. Cassels.

  • i don’t know where you come up with these misconceptions (i’ve never even considered a number of these) or what entitles you to say what “south koreans” (as if they are a singular unit with one thought) think.

    not your best work.

    • Arsnl

      “what entitles you to say what “south koreans” (as if they are a singular unit with one thought) think.”
      Yes. You are so right. There is no such thing as main stream or majority. There are only individuals and each one special and 100% different than another. Each with their dreams and hopes and disillusion and mishaps. Statistics and polls are illusions created by the man to control us.

      “i’ve never even considered a number of these” so some you have considered. Okay. Weird the author didnt ask *you* beforehand what to write in his article. How come he doesn’t know you are so special, Moonlight?

      • if i haven’t considered a number of these, i would assume many others havent considered those as well. it would seem incongruous to name something “top 10 misconceptions” if a number of the items aren’t actually misconceptions. i don’t claim to speak for everyone, but i also don’t claim to be a snowflake. my experience is probably fairly similar to many others in similar situations, which is why i make the point. no need to be a dickhead, dickhead.

  • Matt

    Why is it that I can always tell that the list author is going to be a dumbf*ck from nothing more than the fact that the title includes the word “misconceptions”? Seriously, there must be a name for the phenomenon of an ignorant moron becoming a little less ignorant and then simultaneously both wanting to share his new-found lack of ignorance and thinking that the rest of the world is still as ignorant as he formerly was.

    Worst offenders:

    “It can be a strange experience when you first find yourself in a subway car packed full of Asians but it is not the norm.”

    Yeah, I’m sure it must be real f*cking weird for people in Asia [/not].

    “I thought South Koreans were all thin, rice-eating, kimchi-consuming health freaks.”

    In other words, you were a dumb*ss, but instead of acknowledging it once you became a little enlightened, you instead assume that everyone must also still be a dumb*ss.

    “Nevertheless, Koreans (and Japanese) are the thinnest people in the world per capita.”

    No, they’re not. Aside from the fact that “per capita” doesn’t even make sense with respect to BMI measurement (seriously, how else are you going to measure it?), there are dozens of countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and particularly sub-Sahara Africa that are far thinner than South Korea.

  • Paul Park

    As a Korean, I appreciate this post, though not comprehensive in many senses.

  • Kim Il-Sung

    I like South Korea. I’ve had a lot of fun in Busan and Seoul. But if reunification comes, I hope it comes from the North. Everybody looks at North Korea as an evil regime. I look at it as a unique system that has produced the most stable country in Asia.

    Thank God Kim Jong-un is just like his daddy, the world doesn’t need another stupid liberal leader.

    • mom424

      Pretty sure we don’t need another megalomaniac either.

      • Kim Il-Sung

        True, but there are so few of them left these days.

    • astraya

      Stable = impoverished 20 years ago, impoverished 10 years ago, impoverished now.

      • Arsnl

        I think he means stable as in where you keep the livestock. Cant argue with him on that one.

  • Canuovea

    Well, let me see what I can do with this…

    Korea spent quite a bit of the Qing dynasty as a vassal state to China, practically their territory. Thought to be fair, they put up a decent fight with the Manchus before the Manchus took China.

    And China wasn’t entirely dominating the region until the Ming dynasty (and the Yuan before it, maybe…). So I could see Korea being somewhat independent for a decent amount of time.

    Also, it is a misconception that Irish people would tear you limb from limb for entry one. Some might, though.

  • Cory

    When I lived in Korea, Iw as constantly thanked for the US role in the Korean War, and my mom wasn’t even born until it “ended.” I never met a Korean who was critical of the US for the Korean War. And every time I went out with Koreans, they drank. A lot. Like, middle of the day, “we have to go back to school and teach but who cares” drinking. So….yea.

    • astraya

      Technically, it was the UN, not the US. 16 nations sent troops, and several more medical staff. (That said, of course certainly the bulk of the troops came from the USA, and they played the leading strategic and fighting role.)

  • Matt

    Fun fact from Los Angeles: I heard that outside of Korea, Koreatown in Los Angeles has the highest concentration of Koreans in the world. I heard that awhile ago, so I’m not sure if it’s true, but there’s my number 11..

  • TPleasant

    Interesting list considering the situation. Honestly the first thing that came to mind when thinking of S Korea was Samsung and Hyundai. Oh and N Korea creeps me the hell out. A creep that runs down to the bones……..

    • TPleasant

      Haunting so haunting.

  • Jim Gai

    Huh, I never thought Koreans ever “liked” us…

  • Live Stellar

    Pretty cool!! Thank you!!!! :)

  • Jfraterfan#1

    Having lived in Seoul for a year I can vouch for the contents on this list – cheers to the poster. To the rest of the people too wrapped up in their own selfishness to care at all about anything else, I’m not thrilled to see so many negative stereotypes about internet commentators proven, well, 100% correct. Congratulations for making this about you!

  • Chris

    I think #10 is sort of false.
    They hate our government, but they love Americans.
    Most people warn us saying how if we travel abroad, we have to be cautious.
    But that is false. From all the people I met, they tell me Americans are awesome but our government sucks.
    I’ve been to Korea, and they love Americans.
    They want to drink with us, they ask us to teach them English slang, they love our entertainment, and the girls absolutely love American guys.

  • catturd

    I know this is a list about S.Korea, but my dad has Kim Jong Il’s autograph. I wonder if it’s worth anything now that he’s dead.

    • BixbySnyder

      I’d buy that for a dollar!

      • FlameHorse

        I’d buy it and burn it for a dollar. And I’m frugal!

  • DaFish

    South Koreans Love America. You say this like it’s a good thing!

  • Jug

    Someone should write a list of misconceptions about the Irish

  • Planet Earth
  • astraya

    Re “studious”: There are basically four grades of high school in Korea – “special high school” (which includes special language schools), “high school”, “industry and information high school” and “technical high school”. I taught for one year at an industry and information high school and I can vouch that not all Koreans are studious. At least I wasn’t at a technical high school. I spoke to the English teacher at one of those. I wouldn’t have lasted a week there.

  • dgw

    Can you please stop writing these articles with words like ‘we’. I don’t know who you are but I can tell you are an American. I am not and I don’t like being thrown in the same camp. ‘We’ do not have these assumptions – Americans may have them but don’t assume the rest of the world assumes the same thing.

    • Maggot

      Not all Americans like being thrown into the same camp as the ones who you view as being ignorant or dumb or what have you. So why don’t you practice what you preach, you fu.cking hypocrite.

    • Dgw is a moron

      So you assume Americans all feel the same way? How about you don’t assume all Americans are morons, you ignorant fuck.

  • john x

    this list is backwards. it’s supposed to be misconceptions…. not shit we didn’t know prior…

  • julie

    It’s very interesting article. ^-^b

  • Jon

    Poor writing style.

    Also, South Korea isn’t developed only because they have neon lights everywhere.

    Weak examples

    • fendabenda

      No. They also have Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo, Kia, LG, etc.

  • Mira Belk

    Informative list, but who in the hell really makes these kind of misconceptions about another country that they don’t even live in? Just like with the Africa list, I never thought of any country being some sort of waste land or not in tuned with world technology. Such a caveman way of thinking really. Good list.

  • Alan

    Excellent list. Very informative.

  • Derp

    This list sucks donkey shlong, as does everyone who enjoys it.

  • Bartz008

    Fat koreans are rare here

    • Canadianguy

      Actually, they aren’t really all that thin. Eastern Asians store fat around their organs (it’s common to hear a doctor say that someone has a “fat liver” here). So, someone can look slimmer and still suffer from the same health problems.

  • MuffinCups

    Hmmm….I really didn’t think any of these things about South Korea….same thing with that list about Africa.

    And like others have said, I found it humorous that you don’t want anyone to believe stereotypes about Koreans….but you then stereotype the Irish.

  • theyvid

    i want abouth north korea

  • strangelove

    weird none of this surprises me more like “Duh?”

  • seerrrraaaa

    and for you to call Koreans the “Ireland” of Asia is a misconception of the Irish people.

  • Horror2.0

    Its easier just to ignore Trolls guys. Dont be lured in.

  • Cata

    The most beautiful city is Seoul? Please… in most Canadian cities you are within driving distance of a national rain forest, if they spent as much time on nature as they did on Starcraft they would probably have a utopia.

  • Nolagirl

    Only two of these I had misconceptions about but the rest Ive never heard of

  • Siaarn

    I’ve never heard any of these misconceptions, ever.

  • Stephen

    South Korea is brilliant. I love it there and can’t wait to visit again. The people were very friendly (in general) and the place feels so safe. The food is interesting and the cost of eating out is rather cheap compared to the UK. I recommend you visit if you get the chance.

  • squid

    japan is not a military powerhouse. they havent had an army since the end of WW2.

  • Joe Schmoe

    A sycophant’s diatribe against stereotyping–except when thw list-writer likes the positive image of certain stereotypes. Poorly written, devoid of substantial facts and highly subjective, this list is just one man’s opinion. Nothing more.

    I used to enjoy this website. I re-visit hoping to find a list worthy of a good read. I learn more and laugh more at

    • Canadianguy

      Yes, I’m also unimpressed by the list.

  • Joe Schmoe

    …says the sycophant whose online ID demonstrates a subjective fascination with the site’s main writer.
    Is that brown lipstick or have you just been busy kissing JF’s……?
    Thanks for playing.

  • I have a feeling that #10 might be a stretch. I have no doubt that some South Koreans may be anti-American (there are always dissidents), but I don’t think they would be happy under North Korean rule either. The Korean War may have been a proxy and things happen everywhere whether foreigners are responsible or not. People will always be people no matter where the work and live, but you have to admit that South Korea has done pretty well for themselves. Far better than their northern neighbors.

  • Anthony

    Then don’t fucking read the article and go fuck yourself you fucking idiot! geography idiot! history idiot!

    BTW, nice article James. I really love South Korea, next to New Zealand.

  • Frank

    “There’s no doubt that Korea is positioned in a tough spot between the military powerhouses of Japan and China.”

    “… military powerhouses of Japan and China.”

    “… military powerhouses… Japan…”

    Haha, what?

    • Dawnchaser

      Yeah I was kind of wondering about that too…maybe he meant in the past. Until the end of WWII, Japan definitely was a military powerhouse, but of course now they are extremely peace-oriented. Having been the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima, it seems clear that they now hate the thought of war.

  • zeet

    I’m Korean and a lot of these “misconceptions” are actually true.

    I really enjoyed listverse but after reading this one, I don’t trust them as much anymore.

  • amira

    Like Americans? They worship America to a sickening extent — at least what they think is “USA.” Koreans have English names and they really are living out a fantasy of being American when they use them. They want round eyes and are obsessed with being taller. They copy just about every aspect of American culture that they can but get it twisted like the way they celebrate Any failed American franchise from Baskin & Robbins to KFC is a huge hit with them, many times a status symbol. They are about as close to an American colony as you can get and have no shame.

  • violated korean

    idk about China & Japan but korea got bent over by the mongolians

  • Dawnchaser

    Interesting list, I didn’t know most of these things and actually hadn’t heard of the misconceptions either. ^^;

  • um1928

    “4 Submissive Women”

    if they rebell at that age as the lady on the picture, then who cares :-)

    I also have an impression that the Korean tourists are the most arrogant (I hope it’s a misconception too!)

  • peace

    “4 Submissive Women”

    if they rebell at that age as the lady on the picture, then who cares :-)

    I also have an impression that the Korean tourists are the most arrogant (I hope it’s a misconception too!)

  • Jason

    I served a year in Korea from 1992-1993. I was hugged and kissed by complete strangers on the train several times and thanked profusely for the sacrifices that Americans made for their country. Many times bar tabs or meals were paid for without knowing who the benefactor was. The Korean war was between the USA and Russia? I don’t know what history books you read but you failed to mention China. Have you ever been or lived in South Korea?

  • bluegray

    As a an ASIAN all i can say is
    Pinoys= Mexicans
    the similarities will astound you

  • As an ASIAN all I can say is





    The similarities will astound you HAHAH :)

    • fendabenda

      really? Well, then, all that I can say (as a European) is: people are people. All over the world. :)

  • rane

    Excellent place, I visited late last year and plan to go again some time.

    Regarding no. 4; true, the Korean wife/mother etc. is a dominant figure in family, but there are many misogynistic standards still built into the culture and laws. This may provide a good read…

  • O-State

    To be perfectly honest, I’ve never heard any of these misconceptions. Not one. I was expecting there to be a “Everyone plays Starcraft” misconception, but I was wrong.

    Anyway, I think it’s good to post misconception, only if they’re true though.

  • Mon

    ” The husband might bring home the money but he is not necessarily the boss at home. ”

    This is actually the case in most Southeast and East asian countries!

  • sliteyedkor

    and how about being racist? :O

    • AdolfHilter

      Goddamn! I am not a racist! Why do you je*ws and nig*ers always call me racist?

  • QD

    #10 is pretty funny. Can you name a country #100 in favor of another? Was that even necessary to list? Do you have a distaste for America and our “pipe-bomb tossing right wing militia groups” (I still laugh when I think of that article.) You scored a double by not just throwing a dig at the place where I live with #10 but also insulting my family with #1. There are bigger countries with bigger drinking problems and shorter tempers than Ireland. Yes, we have those tendencies but we’re not the worst or the biggest.
    I’ve never been to South Korea but if the many Koreans I’ve met are an accurate measure of Korea in general, than I love Korea. That’s something we can agree on. I’ve met few New Zealanders though. Too many pipe bombs here in the States I guess.

  • Jille

    Ok. I’ve never heard of any of these “misconcenceptions”. But my more important question is why, in all of these comments, has no one brought up the fact that South Koreans make the best films ever?! I can’t possibly list them, I can only say I’ve yet to run across one film that was anything less than stellar.

  • Jille

    Ok. I’ve never heard of any of these “misconceptions”. But my more important question is why, in all of these comments, has no one brought up the fact that South Koreans create the greatest films ever?! I can’t possibly list them. I can only say that I’ve yet to come across that was anything less than stellar.

    • Canadianguy

      There are plenty of stinkers made in South Korea. You never come across them unless you live in South Korea because they don’t get picked up for foreign distribution.

  • John

    How about something on height since Koreans tend to be taller than other east Asians.

    • Canadianguy

      Not exactly a misconception. The younger generation is getting taller, so much so that a few years ago furniture makers had to adapt.

  • bando

    Africa is not a country you inbred sack of shit.

  • Canadianguy

    “Actually they maintained their independence for over five hundred years in a period called the Joseon Dynasty. ”

    Actually, no. Korea was a tributary state to China until the end of the Choson period, when China lost control of Korea to Japan (read up on the First Sino-Japanese War). Independence from China was declared in 1894 by the Kabo reforms, whose comity was directed by Japan.

  • Canadianguy

    “The ajumma (Korean married women) is renowned for being strong and determined. If there is an empty seat on a subway train, an ajumma will overcome all odds to get it. The husband might bring home the money but he is not necessarily the boss at home. That title is almost always held by the wife who controls finances and all household decisions.”

    The ajumma on the bus thing…That’s a tired old stereotype.

    As for the husband bringing the money…Another stereotype. Last time I checked, 70% of small businesses in South Korea are run by women.

  • They stole everything, from japan and china

  • Rye T.

    Lists about misconceptions always end up getting a lot of negative reaction. Either people think the misconceptions are not in fact misconceptions. Or they think that the misconception lists draw upon misconceptions themselves to state a point. I enjoy reading the lists but the comments following a misconception list are always much better – everything goes round and round in circles.

  • brian

    The writer believes another myth about South Korea. That is that the North is a superpower (bully). In reality South Korea would destroy them in war because of their technology.

  • Cee

    This piece is so full of self-righteous smugness that it’s laughable. I bet this was conceived by some left-wing exchange student between their “liberal arts” classes and Occupy-whatever sit in at their chic Doggie Sunshine Bar; because it’s Shih—–Tzu. ;)

  • sumi

    Actually they are MORE studious than you think. most students work literally all day just to get into a good uni and live what they consider the “good life”.

    i thought for sure you were going to have something about eating dog. it’s illegal but people still do it.

  • LiloxXx

    You left out the part about starcra~ oh right, no misconception there, proceed.

  • Jack Meioff

    hey arsehole. your comment of “no one really [email protected]#$king cares about this stupid nations” shows you that you are a just another dumb [email protected]#$king white idiot. Koreans & Japs are two of the smartest people in the world, so go f$#% your sister or brother.

  • Zeke

    wow… more people in this world who hate me because of my blue passport. Shocker. The student of South Korean descent by way of his parents who shot up Virginia Tech in recent years was of course a pariah here, but no one here said it was that nation’s fault.

  • anna

    simon and martina, eh no.

  • Fidel Montenegro.

    Generally there are two perceptions Koreans portray, one is the outside general world perception as listed above. The second is there own perception which they dont publish, talk about to foreigners. Either because of lack of self confidence, guilt, shame, intimidation, cultural beliefs, language barrier i dont know which. Korea has the unique tag of being home to the largest landfill in the world located in Incheon the locals there complain often about it the noise, dust, smell. This environmental damage is causing many problems the native wildlife & infrastructure which will have longterm effects well into the future. During the summer months the air quality decreases dramatically due to the heavy humid air causing large smog clouds over seoul. which also causes an acid rain effect not good if you live there. 3rd korea has the 2nd highest suiside rate in the world behind Japan. Due to the peer pressure placed on the young from their parents, fellow students, culture & over-achievement mentality. As a result of this korea has high rates of Alcoholisim & smoking among its young due mostly because they are both so cheap to obtain Soju $1000 won, cigarettes $2000 won. Korea is also is a very male dominated society & tend to treat their women with mixed respect. Women rearly report abuse by their partner due to intimidation, or shame, or to not breakup the family. Korean born & raised usually stay close to their culture & marry their own. Where as those raised or born overseas are not so restricted. Its very hard to get the absolute ground roots view on korea especially from native koreans , any negative views or comments a frowned upon & viewed as not being nationalistic or patriotic to your country. So its very easy to make assumptions that a double standard type mentality exists there. In order to gain a perspective of someone you must observe, interact, my points are not made to be bias or derrogative towards koreans far from it. I am providing most people with a balanced & factual view from my experience with korean people. Enjoy the country. like anything you do in this world, what you get out is what you put in. Cheers.

  • hmmm

    I’m surprised that you did not mention starcraft and their obsession(maybe?) with it

  • Link

    You should have post something about the plastic surgery there.

  • Great post. I remember when the tank killed the school girls. I do get pissed off that everyone seems to have forgotten that the UK fought in Korea, indeed my old regiment was involved.

    However, I know no kids who take jobs after middle school. Further, Korean education is not similar to the USA, it’s much stricter, the value of education much higher and kids are in school much longer. In my last high school kids studied from around 8-10 at night (and I don’t mean in private academies).

  • Fidel Montenegro.

    Korean Education is very far removed from the western style education system too much emphasis is placed on academics. Reading, learning thru oral or written texts. Very little is placed on the practical aspects or the values of being practical. This robotic drone type mentality with which most are absorbed into gives them little freedom of expression, they have no true value, little chance of advancement, work harder for less.

  • Jordina

    I liked this, but not everything on here is things people think about. In fact, only two of these things crossed my mind: being thin, and being studious. The others weren’t things that came to mind. Also, I think number one should have been the sheer fact alone that people call it South Korea. It’s not South Korea. It’s the Republic of Korea. No where in the name does it say South. Just like with North Korea, it isn’t actually North Korea. It’s the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

  • Grayson Pulis

    I would disagree with many statements here including that South Koreans aren’t grateful to Americans, I’m guessing their are a great deal of people there who feel that the USA protected them. Also the Irish also enjoyed a five hundred year period/golden age of independence. 400AD-900AD until the Viking invasions. One more thing isn’t it called the Choson Kingdom not the Joseon kingdom?

  • aquarius1011

    Some people would find this interesting, because some people’s interests are world-wide.

    I wonder what was the capital of Korea before the Japanese occupation, before WW2.

  • Sara

    I am an ESL teacher in Korea and I love the country. I have also received a few elbows from ajummas who REALLY want that chair on the subway. I have encountered many of these misconceptions outside of Korea and they are MISconceptions. These ideas a re wrong, especially number 4. I think lists like this are good because it helps outsiders to learn about a country.

  • Mike McGee

    I agree with everything except that the “air is mostly clean”. Most Korean cities I’ve looked at have PM-10 concentrations that are twice as bad as the WORST in the United States and Western Europe, and four or five times as bad as the average Western city. And that’s without taking into consideration the yellow dust from China.

    There’s inevitably going to be a lot of pollution when you have 50 million people crammed into a tiny space with tons of cars and factories. O

  • Interesting. My only comment is, I am American and I have never heard one American ever say Korea “owed” us anything or that Koreans love Americans. I think #1 came more from your own opinion rather than from any sort of research or proof.

  • Anonymous

    Korean men are also known to be very good lovers.They are just as flirtatious,charming and seductive as Italian.Their penis size are also not as small as the media says.

  • I’ve been reading a lot about South Korea but you still managed to teach me something new. Really interesting article and good choice in photographs!

    • smr

      You obviously haven’t read much. Keep reading. Hopefully the truth finds you.

  • jm

    Oh really? One of my first school memories being in the US was getting fingerprinted in Kindergarten. The US has the highest incarceration in the world and probably the highest Convicted that are innocent. South Korea still has a very high crime rate, to foreigners especially Americans. So if you visit watch your pockets, they will pray on you as the laws will always make the Americans the guilty party. Fuck off Korean government.

    • smr

      Very true…the Koreans are fanatical about the purity of their race.

  • tteok_E

    This guy needs a better understanding of Korean history. The only reason that North Korea became biggest ally is because of unsatisfactory help by USSR in the Korean war. If someone says the statement, ‘Many South Koreans believe that the Korean War was just a battle between the USA and the USSR, in which they were the pawns.’ in South Korea, he or she will get sarcastic laugh from everyone.

  • Cynthia

    You know Simon and Martina? I love them

  • smr

    This is a ridiculously biased opinion. It is obvious the author does not understand regional dynamics. It’s rather like visiting Ireland without knowing anything about the rest of Europe. This is all roses and sunshine. Example: #1 US was just fighting USSR in the Korean War? Are you serious? And apparently US troops have done nothing but behave badly….nevermind the 60 years of NOT living under the North Korean regime. It is baffling to me how much you accept their BS.

  • Daniel

    hey, I am Korean. This post is mostly OK, but sometimes not detail enough, especially on that history part. But in general, OK.
    (please make sure you look at photos and understand what they are about. some photos are just wrong)

  • bobby

    LOL Some of these you are admitting to be true.

  • Has the person who wrote this article ever been to Korea??? Most of these aren’t misconceptions. At least 1/2 seem to be true. Not true 100% across the board, but what is?