As a foreigner who came to South Korea for the first time, what surprised me the most is the popular drinking and smoking culture of South Korean youths. About three out of five male and female college students here smoke; and almost all students are heavy drinkers. As drinking and smoking are necessary parts of South Korean life, it’s difficult for me to adjust to the lifestyle here. Although I always refuse to drink alcohol and “soju” which is the most traditionally famous alcoholic drink when I’m out with native Korean friends, I sometimes feel peer-pressured and realize how difficult it is for Korean young generation to not drink and smoke. Expectedly, the limit drinking age for South Koreans is eighteen, which is quiet young. Therefore, even if their alcoholic tolerance is low, their ability to drink improve as they get older. Seoul nightlife is also a big culture for students. Either bar hopping at Sinchon or clubbing at Hongdae (Sinchon and Hongdae are where Yonsei University and Hongik University are located), these two areas are always over packed with young couples and students every night. Of course, drinkers and smokers are easily seen on the streets. I really enjoy walking down the street, sitting outside of a convenient store, or drinking a cup of coffee at Hongdae to observe the lively atmosphere here. If you have to do a paper about drinking and smoking culture of South Korea or Seoul specifically, I would highly recommend Hongdae area. However, don’t forget to go with some friends. Your safety should never be underestimated.
Let’s move on to topic about Korean idols. I cannot deny that my decision to study abroad in Seoul is partly based on my deep passion to learn about Korean music industry. Back in the state, I could listen to Korean-pop and read news about Korean idols the whole day without getting bored. I used to wonder of how difficult it would be to meet Korean idols in real life, and my question got answered right on the first day I arrived at Incheon airport. Guess what? I saw Big Bang. If you are familiar with K-pop, you’ll definitely know who Big Bang is. Big Bang is one of the most successful hip-hop bands in South Korea. Their new songs most likely stay at number one on major Korean music charts. I was fortunate enough to be able to get into the fan crowd and take a picture of Taeyang up close before they left. I also had a chance to see Exo band at their SPAO fan sign event. Although it was extremely crowded and I couldn’t get close to them that day, I managed to take a clear picture of Kai and Baekhuyn from a coffee shop near by. I admire Exo and Big Bang so much for their talents; and seeing them like this was definitely a one-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I will treasure those moments forever, as they would never happen to me again. If you are interested in Korean bands, get updated with their current activity schedule on their fan website. It’s not too difficult to see them if you are in luck and willing to put in efforts.
After the sweatiest but most worthy adventure with Exo, my friends and I decided to take the subway back to Hongdae for Trickeye museum. There are multiple paints, pictures, statues, and other artistic products that trick your eyes. If you like taking fun pictures, this museum is definitely a place to be. You won’t regret. Let’s have a look at some pictures that I took that day.