Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Come on in, mom. That's it? We have reached the last and final country of my own personal heritage. So I figured, "Why not go out with a bang and bring my own mom on the show?" You'll gonna love her. And if you don't, I'll basically kill you. For the record, yes, my mom speaks English and whenever she comes on screen, we'll most likely speak "Konglish" with each other, since my Korean skill level is equivalent to a five-year-old that got electrocuted in the brain. Nonetheless, that's okay! This episode will be a piece of chapssal-tteok. Let's begin. Now if you haven't already seen the North Korea episode I suggest you do because it covers some of the context you'll need for this episode. Anywho, first of all, South Korea makes up the bottom half of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia located between the Yellow Sea, the Gyeonggi Bay, the Jeju Strait and the Korea Strait off Japan's Tsushima Island and this thing which (be careful what you call it) the Chinese and Koreans call it the East Sea; whereas the Japanese and others might call it the Sea of Japan. The country is divided into eight provinces, six metropolitan cities that act as their own entities, a special self-governing province (Jeju-do Island), and the capital Seoul that has the title of Special City acting as its own entity as well. Then you have this weird thing, Sejong, a special autonomous City. Back in 2007 the government was like: South Koreans: "Crap! We have too many people here in Seoul." Government: "Yeah, half of the country lives here. We need to move some people out." South Koreans: "That's actually a good idea, but how do we make them move?" Government: "Why don't we move the government buildings and make a second capital? We could also incentivize people to move in. It kind of work with Brazil." South Koreans: "Great! But you first." So now, technically, South Korea has two capitals. Back in my day they're only eight provinces with Jeju-do and Seoul as the capital. South Korea owns and administers over 3,500 Islands off its coasts (the largest one being Jeju-do which is kind of like the Hawaii of Korea). You know it's really strange: if South Korea was an island, it would look eerily similar to the shape of Ireland. Anyway, as we mentioned in the North Korea episode, South Korea has a border with their brothers up north at the DMZ or demilitarized zone, controlled by over 2 million people at any given moment. In addition, there are four known tunnels that have been built underneath the border, including what South Korea calls the Third Tunnel of Aggression. Basically in 1978 it went down like this: South Korea: "Oh, what the? Why is there a tunnel unto my... Oh, no. Hey, UN! North Korea built this as an act of aggression." North Korea: "Uhh, no. It's a coal mine." ROK: "There's no coal here. It's all granite and igneous rock. And what about those are the three tunnels we discovered?" DPRK: "Clearly, we were looking for coal in other places, because it wasn't here." Today, it's a tourist spot heavily guarded by South Korean troops. There are suspected to be possibly around 20 more tunnels but info on that isn't classified. Otherwise South Korea has eleven UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Otherwise some other notable spots of interest might include places like Korea's largest theme park; and Lotte World, with the world's largest indoor theme park the tallest building in the peninsula and fifth in the world, -Mom what's your favorite place to visit in Korea? -Maybe you can go to the Interesting place so you can see that. And the list goes on and on. Just like Japan, there are too many quirky interesting colorful sites to live. Alas! We must move on. If you go to South Korea, you'll notice that the countryside is actually very picturesque (if you can get all the techie apartment buildings out of the way from your view). First of all, cradled away in the docile Amurian plate, Japan and China take up most of the heavy earthquakes tsunamis and typhoons. So they don't really experience anything too crazy in terms of natural catastrophe. Around 80% of the country is mountainous. They share the same Taebaek mountain chain with North Korea. The longest river is the Nakdong that flows all the way from the mountain chain into the East Sea along Busan. They don't really have a lot of big lakes, the largest one being Chungju, artificially created by a dam. Since North Korea took Mount Baektu, South Korea's highest point's switched to Mount Hallasan, a shield volcano located on Jeju island. It last erupted over a thousand years ago. This makes Cheju (Jeju) Island a unique place from the rest of Korea with famous lava tube caves In Boreyong, you have the famous mud flats that holds a festival every year that draws in over 2 million visitors. Bosung is famous for their tea fields. The problem is that summers are so incredibly humid and filled with mosquitos. Mom, do you remember when I was a kid, they made me camp in the Yeongdong pine fields and it was like oh so terrible? They made me brush my teeth in like, bathe in the river, and the bathrooms were just holes in the ground. Yes, I remember. I've never been there, but I heard all kind of terrible story well. On every year between winter and spring, they experience Hwang Sa, the yellow dust season in which dust particles from the Gobi Desert are swept up by fast winds and cover all of East China and the Koreas (sometimes even as far as Japan and parts of Russia). This is the reason why you see so many Asians wearing those surgical masks like every year. Now, in the North Korea episode, I discussed a list of notable Korean dishes. I'm not gonna do it again, but as you know kimchi is the national dish. Now, keep in mind. There are hundreds of different types of Kimchi out there, but cabbage is the most popular one, Mom, what's your favorite Kimchi? And Kimchi. Yeah. Ah, okay? Yeah, that's a good one. On one dish that's kind of unique to South Korea as opposed to North Korea is that they kind of like to eat Sannakji sometime. Live squirming octopus dipped in hot sauce. They also like to eat live spoon worms. Trust me, though. That's kind of tame compared to some regions in China. Common-wise, though, South Korea is all about the tech industry. Some of the largest companies being LG, Lotte, SK Group, Daewoo, Hanjin, Kia, and the crowning glories: Samsung and Hyundai. Today, South Korea is the fifth largest exporter in the world with the G20's largest budget surplus. It also has the world's eighth highest medium household income - highest in Asia. And it also has the highest credit rating out of any country in East Asia. As of 2015, they achieved the title of being the world's largest shipbuilder at over two million in gross tonnage (about 41% of the world's total). On top of that in 2005, they became the world's first country to fully transition into high speed internet. South Korea takes tech very seriously, and it exudes through the people's lives every day in a very interesting way. I mean, they even have their own robot prison guard. This means we gotta taking over to... Koreans are kind of like sponges: when they see something they like, they watch it, they observe it, they imitate it, they memorize it, they recreate it, master it and obsess over it. This can be both a good and bad thing depending on what we're talking about. First of all, South Korea has about 51 million people and has the highest percentage of adults (25 to 34 years old) that have tertiary education degrees. The country is almost completely homogeneous at about 96 percent ethnically Korean; whereas the remaining 4% are made up of a number of foreigners mostly being Chinese, Americans and Vietnamese. They also use the South Korean Won as their currency; they use the type-C plug outlet; and they drive on the right side of the road. Now without even really having to explain that much, I'm pretty sure you're all aware of how incredibly different South Koreans are from their brothers up north. In fact on average South Koreans are about 2 inches, or 5 centimeters, taller than the North Koreans due to their access to healthier and more diverse food options. South Korea (no surprise) speaks Korean, which is not only unique (because there aren't really any languages related to it some might say Japanese is like a way distant cousin), but also because of the writing system. Back in the 1400s Sejong the great was like, "Dude, I'm sick of the Chinese characters. It's too hard. Can we just make new ones?" So, they did. Today, Hangeul (or as the North Koreans call it Chosun-geul) is a phonetic alphabet that is incredibly easy to learn. It literally only takes like an hour for anybody to learn it. I mean, this letter makes a "n-sound", and this makes an "ah-sound" and so on. The strange thing though is that Hangeul is the only writing system in the world that uses syllable clusters. So in order to write, you kind of have to smash either 2 or 3 letters into a box format that goes either two across and one at the bottom or three all the way down. So, for example, the word for "foot" is "bal"; so you'd have to take the "b" sound next to the "ah" sound and the "l" sound, making "bal". And that's it. That's like 90% of the writing: box smashing. The problem though is that speaking Korean is a nightmare. The grammar is all backwards. There's like subject indicators and possessive prefixes. There's Now I already explained the early history of the Korean Peninsula in the North Korea episode, so check it out if you want a summary. Basically after the Korean War, Essentialy, unlike their brothers of north, South Korea became a democratic presidential republic, adopting a capitalistic model for their economy with free-market enterprise encouraging a competitive private-sector. This did wonders for that. Today, they are classified as one of the four Asian Tigers along with Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan; meaning that they have grown at an economic rate over 10 percent annually over the past 30 years. Remember the Germany episode? We talked about the Weirschaftswunder. Yeah, they basically did the same thing. After war times, they started working really hard (just Google "Miracle on the Han river"). After the war, most of the Americans left, but they still kept some army bases with soldiers in places like Gyeongki-do, where my dad was born, and Daegu, where my mom was born. Anyway, South Korea is a place where the future is embraced but the past is never let go of. Traditional dances like the colourful Cheo yongmu and Tal Chum mask dances, if you're lucky to witness it, the long ribbon-spinning Pungmul dance can be seen in certain areas, Jultagi tightrope performers, and Namsa dang acrobatics, where people launch high from seesaws. Also, the amazing traditional raspy-voiced Pansori singing has never gone out of style. Usually it's accompanied by these drums Right, mom? And what is this one called? Taekwondo and Hapkido are the two national martial arts. No surprise, South Korea ranks number one in the Olympics. Most Koreans at some point will probably learn at least a little bit of Taekwondo. I took it as a kid and mom you took it too, right? You took Taekwondo when you were younger? Yeah, when I was in high school. You were like the only girl in your class, right? How many boys were in your class? -Fifty? Sixty? -And what belt did you get up to? -Black. -Black belt, so yeah. Basically my mom can kill your mom. And speaking of martial arts, South Korea is a conscription country, with all men required to serve in the military (anywhere between the ages of 18 to 35) for about two years. Women are allowed to volunteer to, if they wish. Most Koreans still get married in the And there's also a part where like the bride's family and friends have to like beat the husband's feet for some reason. Mom why did they do that? Why do they like beat the man's feet during the wedding? -Maybe punish him to take away from their daughter? -So they like punishing him like, "It's payback for all the pain you will give me." I don't know. Fun sidenote: People usually try to avoid marrying someone with the same last name as them in South Korea. The problem is that only three last names make up about half of the entire population: Kim, Lee, and Park. Today, numbers are a little hard to estimate, but many will say that about a third of the country identifies as Christian, mostly Protestant branches, along with a sizable Buddhist community that have maybe 20 percent; whereas the rest claim to vaguely follow ancient traditional Korean style Confucianism, the indigenous Shamanism or no affiliation at all. In fact after the US, South Korea sends more Christian missionaries abroad than any other country in the world. Otherwise, tradition aside, Koreans have glided ever so stealthily into the modern world. Today, South Korea has a huge e-sports industry, and gamers are celebrities. They can make millions. Of course, this can also lead to some problems as some people have been known to have died by playing non-stop or actually killing people or getting arrested for neglecting their children in favour of playing video games.