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  • 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.

  • Coincidentally, one where you have to raise an online virtual baby.

  • (I'm not even joking. That's a true story. Look it up.) Like the Japanese, Koreans love their

  • However, the difference is that Koreans usually don't cover themselves with towels. They just go butt naked.

  • Finland: "Hmmm. I like your style."

  • South Koreans also have disputedly the highest percentage of plastic surgeries performed per capita in the world at around

  • 24,000 residents. The most popular one, mostly for women, being the double eyelid surgery,

  • in which they add a fold to their eyelids as it's seen as more attractive.

  • Parents even usually give their daughters the surgery as a graduation gift.

  • No, I mean like I mean like kind of, but like sometimes...

  • ...like when they come out,

  • they're gonna have like the...

  • ...so it's like...

  • ...from like every generation

  • -People thinking about the beauty is getting changed. -Oh, yeah, but you can't change your genetics.

  • In terms of controversies, South Koreans usually ranked in the top 10

  • or even 5 countries with the highest suicide rates. Honor culture is so high, that

  • sometimes, it affects people that don't feel like they meet societal expectations. Students have some of the highest

  • stress levels in the world. Many go to Hakwons after school, which is like another special-school-

  • you-can-go-to-school-after-school-for-more-school, and it ends at like 10 p.m.

  • Students get like no sleep. And finally, unfortunately sometimes, Koreans can be a little discriminatory against non-Koreans.

  • As a homogeneous nation with no real minority experience prior to the 20th century,

  • you might find shockingly racist depictions of certain people groups that everyone is just kind of comfortable with.

  • Sometimes, they even put up signs saying "no foreigners".

  • They are just starting to kind of move on from that, but it's kind of still there. Anyway, there are so many things

  • I wish I could talk more about like how Koreans use the Korean age system;

  • they ask for your blood type, because it's like a horoscope sign type of thing; the festivals of Chuseok and Seolnal;

  • there's still like a surviving heir to the former emperor that exists today; Jeju Island has those diving women;

  • Arirang is like the national song that everybody knows; K-pop and K-dramas have taken the world by storm.

  • Usually, K-dramas are accompanied with strange or horribly translated subtitles with the worst commercial interruptions.

  • Otherwise, some famous Koreans throughout history might include people like

  • actors like

  • contemporary K-pop artists like

  • Tons of Americans with Korean heritage have also made the mark like

  • Victor Barbato (Barby's dad), and the list goes on and on.

  • South Korea went from a war-torn shanty peninsula to a

  • world-renowned power player. And it all had to do with their international outreach. This brings us to our last and final section, the...

  • South Korea has always kind of had to prove itself against not only their neighbors,

  • but to their own brothers up north to show that they could become something great apart from the political

  • divergence factor. First of all, South Korea has great ties to the European Union

  • as they make up the second largest export partner; tourism has exploded since the 80s and 90s and many Koreans study abroad in Europe

  • for college semesters. Japan is like their best "frenemy".

  • Although the Koreans loved watching the Japanese being deposed after World War II, it wasn't long until they had their own problems in the Korean War.

  • After the war, the Japanese befriended the South, and since then relations have gotten much better. Koreans admit

  • they can't get enough of Japanese anime, J--pop and they do like the colorful culture and cuisine as they make one of the largest groups

  • that visit annually. The Philippines was one of the first friends that they had even before the split. They even sent their

  • expeditionary force to help against North Korean invasions during war times. For some weird reason, if you put a Filipino and a Korean together, they

  • just kind of like immediately click and get each other.

  • -I mean, why do you think I hired Ken? -Oh, thanks, man.

  • -Yeah, I guess you're all right, kind of. -Does it mean I get to co-star in the Philippines episode?

  • Yeah, if you can actually edit the video on time and not ruin it by slacking off, yes, you can.

  • In terms of their close friends, Koreans would probably say China and kind of the US.

  • Both countries host the largest numbers of Koreans in diaspora at around

  • 2.5 million each, and both are the largest export partners. China kind of acts as like the mediator friend between them and North Korea,

  • and they struggled alongside them during the Japanese Empire Occupation years,

  • in which both were required to speak Japanese and throw away their customs for like three decades, like my mom's mom: my grandma.

  • Mom, didn't you say like your your mom spoke Japanese with your your stepdad or something like that?

  • Yes, they spoke with Japanese all the time when I was little. They were educated with Japanese when

  • -Japanese occupied Korea. -But they never spoke Japanese to you?

  • Because I don't know Japanese and then they are kept secret.

  • They kept the secret with a secret language.

  • Kind of like what you and Dad did with me in Korean.

  • Something like that.

  • That a secret language. - That's very smart.