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Things I love about Korea!

Okay, so readers of Lonely Planet say that Seoul is a lousy city. The New York Times says it is a great city to visit.

How do you choose sides when two idiots disagree? How can you tell who is telling the truth when two liars tell different stories?

* * *

I was on the subway the other day when I began writing a list of things I love about Korea. This is not a final list, by the way.

* The tax rate is 3.3%. That's right. 3.3%. Not 33.3%.

* Even better, I won't have to go through the April 15 IRS game. The government here just TAKES the money. They don't force to also send in forms by a certain date.

* Every company working with Western employees seems to have a manager who will show up when called on a Friday night to help you when your heating system stops working. On the other hand, he is also likely to get you stranded on the highway when his van runs out of gas. (Yes, both things happened recently.)

* The seats on subway line 4 are heated. The next time my heating system at home stops working I may just ride up and down line 4.

* People can look at themselves in a mirror without others thinking they are strange. Many Koreans in fact do this. There seems to be mirrors everywhere. One thing I've noticed is that Korean women seem to enjoy taking photos of themselves, especially when they are seated at cafes or donut shops.

* You can slurp your food without people staring at you. You can even pick up your bowl and drink from it. Americans (at least others I've eaten cereal with) seem to do the same thing but for some reason Americans here think it is strange when Koreans do that with noodles.

* Koreans are eager to meet, greet, and host non-Koreans, especially those who are from Western countries.

* Singing rooms. In some areas there are singing rooms on every corner. I recently went singing in a ritzy part of town for about $9 an hour.

* Seoul seems to be the Swing Dance Capital of the world!

* Koreans will praise me for saying very simple things such as "hello" in Korean.

* One of the best things in the world is a Korean friend who is concerned with how you are doing in Korea.

* Cell reception is great everywhere, apparently for every type of cell service. The downside is that cell reception is great everywhere, meaning you need a good excuse for not answering the phone.

* Korea is extremely safe.

* Tipping is not allowed or expected. I've never enjoyed tipping, it should be enough that I return.

* * *

Things I don't like about Korea? I've only been back for a few weeks. Check back in about 6 months.

CJL

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