Lately, South Korea seems like the go-to place for recent graduates. Most people are influenced by the increasing popularity of the Hallyu Wave, the increasing international popularity of Korean pop and dramas, but others are also going because of their love of the food or language. A lot of people I talk to, though, express disappointment that their time here isn’t living up to their expectations. Here are a few reasons why I think that is:
- Life is not like a K-Drama.
Many people watch K-Dramas and think that life in Korea will pan out to be exactly like it. But that isn’t the case. That’s like watching Sex in the City and thinking you will have that same lifestyle if you move to New York. There are no cute boys to catch you if you fall or drama-filled love triangles. Life will generally carry on the same way it did back at home.
- Meeting celebrities/getting into fansigns is not easy.
International fans are able to see pictures and videos of their favorite Hallyu stars at fansigns or concerts. Many come here to try to meet them personally or take pictures themselves. The reality is that getting into a fansign is at least a 1/10,000 chance. Fansite masters buy hundreds of albums in hopes that one of their entries will get picked. Unless you have a lot of money, buying one album most likely won’t get you in.
- You won’t magically become fluent in Korean overnight.
Learning Korean in your home country will give you a good foundation, and many people think they can use that and pick everything else up in a short amount of time. This will only happen if you’re studying 24/7 and barely speaking your native language. Becoming fluent takes a lot of work and a lot of time.
- It’s difficult to make Korean friends.
Making Korean friends will take a lot of effort on your end. Koreans usually meet new friends through their current friends, so randomly going up to one and making small chat may intimidate them. They also don’t know what language you speak, so they won’t know how to approach you.
- Most apartments are small.
If you’re only going to use your apartment to sleep, then this won’t matter much. But most affordable Korean apartments may be too small for homebodies. They don’t usually have a living room, only a connected kitchen and bedroom area. Bigger rooms for the same price are available in less major cities, but not Seoul.
These are not major issues, and I’m not trying to dissuade people from making that transition, but coming here believing some of those things may set you up for failure. I hope this list helps those who are undecided about making a decision to live here.