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COM-263 Culture Essay (1)

Vianna Castaneda
July 19, 2019
Professor Blakemore
Kulture is Everything
South Korea is primarily known for the Korean war, K-Pop, Korean Barbecue, and being
next to North Korea. There is so much more to South Korea than listed above. They have a
vibrant culture that can only be fully experienced there. It is a cultural experience that cannot be
mimicked anywhere. South Korea has food that most people have not tried let alone heard of.
There are so many technical advances that most countries do not have. South Korea entered the
media more often due to the rise in popularity of K-Pop. K-Pop is Korean pop and there are boy
groups and girl groups, like most people saw in the 90s, but on steroids. South Korea has a rich
and vibrant culture that should be explored and enjoyed by many people.
The main language spoken in South Korea is Korean. The language is not come from
Latin like other languages such as English, French, Spanish, etc. The alphabet consists of 24
characters that are expressed through sounds. The characters can then be combined to form
different words and sentences. There is a social hierarchy when speaking Korean. There are two
forms called banmal (informal) and joedenmal (Formal). People are to use the formal tense when
talking to anyone older than them, when meeting someone new, or when talking to a superior at
work. Informal is used when talking to someone that’s the same birth year, friends, and younger
people. If someone were to speak informally in a situation where a person should not, it is
viewed as very offensive and disrespectful. In an article written by Swift (2017) Korean culture
can be exemplified by its rich language and unique writing system. In Korean culture elders eat
first, and when drinking the youngest turn their heads away from the oldest member in at the
Korean food is an experience all on its own. There are many specialties and experiences
to be had with Korean food. In Korea there are specific types of meat that are only available in
Korea. The meats are Hanwoo and Black pork. Hanwoo comes from cows specifically bred and
raised in South Korea, it cannot be found anywhere else. Black pork comes from pigs only found
on Jeju, an island off the south coast of South Korea. Also, fruit is rather different in South
Korea. There are pears that are different from the common American pears, it is much juicier and
larger (a bit bigger than a common grapefruit). You cannot talk about Korean food without
discussing South Korea’s night market culture. There are numerous night markets all over South
Korea that are full of clothes, food stall, and even fish markets near the ocean. These markets
have food stalls that vary in price and type of food that people can buy for cheap. According to
PBS Korean people eat a lot of seafood and the fish differs from place to place. Fish markets in
cities like Busan, can make your food immediately after purchase. There is an eating style in
Korea called jeong, where people can a lot of food and share with one another. Most Korean
food has what is called banchan, which means side dishes. The side dishes vary and there can be
up to 20 for a meal. The common side dishes are kimchi, pickled radish, bellflower root, spicy
tofu, etc. A common custom in Korea is eating seaweed soup on someone’s birthday.
K-Pop has become a phenomenon all on its own in the past couple years. In the 90’s there
were boy bands and girl groups in the west like N’Sync, the Backstreet Boys, O-Town, the Spice
Girls, etc. In Korea it has been taken up a notch. Hundreds of aspiring boys and girls train for
years to try and debut through their company and perform in front of fans. What most people do
not know is the hardships that they go through in order to make their dreams come true. About
70 groups debut a year, but only about 10 are noticed by a mass amount of people. These kids go
through hour upon hours of practicing their singing, dancing, and or rapping. Idols have talked
about practicing for almost if not more than 24 hours straight. If a trainee is from another
country, they must do all of that and learn a new language. There are also groups that write or
produce their own music. A group by the name of Seventeen writes and produces all their own
music, including choregraphing all their songs. Female trainees often have a hard type because
they have to be pretty and thin, being criticized for being overweight when they are rather
healthy. When discussing K-Pop there are also things that are referred to as slave contracts.
Slave contracts are the contracts that most trainees do not read because they want to be an idol so
badly and they do not realize what they are signing. Groups will often be in debt for years after
they debut. In the contract they agree to pay back whatever money the company spent on them,
meaning food, toiletries, certain fees, etc.
South Korea was not necessarily in western media until the 2018 Winter Olympics, and
when BTS won an AMA award. When the 2018 Winter Olympics location was announced many
people were interested in PyeongChang. During the Olympics many foreigners visited South
Korea and tried new experiences through food and events. Another time South Korea was in the
western media was when BTS won the AMA for Best Social Artist. They were all over the news
and it made people wonder what is K-Pop? This prompted many interviews with BTS and now
many K-Pop groups are having tour dates in America and being interviewed on the news. During
the 2018 Men’s World Cup Group F knockout round South Korea was against Germany and
Mexico was against Sweden. Mexico lost leaving fans all around the world disappointed. That
was until they realized that if South Korea beat Germany that Mexico could continue in the
World Cup. This prompted all Mexico fans to watch the Korea versus Germany game in
anticipation and worry. When South Korea beat Germany 2-0, Mexico fans rejoiced and
proceeded to find any South Korean fans, Korean people, or just an Asian person and pick them
and hoist them up in excitement. Mexico fans payed South Korea back by going to their local
Korean restraint, Koreatown, or they would buy drinks for Korean people as a sign of respect
and thanks. South Korea has most recently been in the media due to the summit between North
Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, South Korean President Moon and U.S. President Trump. This
summit led President Moon to call the historic meeting the” … start of an era of peace” (Kim,
2019). Hopefully this summit brings the era of peace President Moon talked about.
Mass media can give a bird’s eye view of a culture. It does not go into depth with what
goes into certain aspects of another culture. The main way to find these things out is to immerse
oneself into the culture. The only way to find things out is dive in and do research on the culture.
The lives of K-Pop idols and trainees are very tough, and most people would not know that with
being a fan or researching. Idols have to train for hours for multiple comebacks within a year,
and also make appearances on variety shows and music programs (Wong,2018). It is not
uncommon to see an idol sleeping in their makeup chair or in their green room. Huge scandals
happen in communities in Korea and only if people are in those communities or live in Korea
will they hear about it. For example, all Korean men are required to go to the army for two years
before they turn 30. They have to go through rough training and must be away from their
families for so long. Also, most people may not know this but, Korea has one of the highest
suicide rates in the world (Kiersz, 2014). They have one of the most rigorous education systems
and students are stressed about expectations put on them from a young age along with men being
required to go to the army can be a reason for this.
Korea is such a beautiful country and has such a vast culture that cannot be fully
explained in 1.250 words. They have a hierarchy in their language and have amazing food most
people may not know about. Korea has a strong culture with food that many people observe and
have grown up learning about it. When Korea is shown in media, they are often highlighting KPop and the culture around the fans and the dazzling personalities that the members have. South
Korean culture should be further explored so many people can experience and enjoy it.
Hidden Korea. (n.d.). PBS. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/hiddenkorea/food.htm
Kiersz, A. (2014). Here are the countries with the worst suicide rates. Retrieved from
Kim, H. (2019). South Korean President: Trump-Kim summit marks era of peace. Time.
Retrieved from https://time.com/5618849/south-korea-moon-jae-in-trump-kim-summithostility/
Swift, J. (2017). The Korean language: A cultural legacy. Cornell Research Retrieved from
Wong, J. (2018). The punishing pressures behind K-Pop perfection. CBC News. Retrieved from
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