Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

A Final View on South Korea from Sherlock Holmes


There is no doubt that I would like to come back here. Based only on two days I would say that this is one of the most polite and pleasant nations I have visited. I saw no aggression nor irritation with two exceptions. A Korean man trying to check in for his flight before the counter was open ( the clue for him was a huge queue and the massive sign saying opening at 14.50) and a Korean man paying his executive level room bill with wads of cash. No smile, no communication. Deadpan face. No thanks either and no bowing. Everyone else in Korea bows to everyone else on every occasion. Let me give you an example. When the check-in desks did open at 14.47 the whole team of 7 check-in staff, stood up, said something together to the waiting travellers ( rather like one might address a church congregation ), bowed to us all, and then rapidly motioned for us to come forward. I will not criticise British Airways for not doing this, but maybe a smile instead of a bow? And not one of those sour mouthed ones either.

The other learning in South korea is that in two days with mostly affluent doctors and other souls, I saw only two overweight people ( out of hundreds if not thousands). One of these was a morbidly obese Korean man in the hotel ( BMI>30, maybe >35), and the other a slightly overweight young woman (BMI maybe 27-28). Why? Easy. They eat less. How do I surmise this? Am I Sherlock Holmes? Well, maybe….

The portions served at mealtimes are much smaller than western sized portions. The meal last night in a grand hotel ( Lotte Busan, if you want to look it up. It has a casino and theatre etc, to give context) was 4 courses. Four small courses. Fish as a starter with bread roll about half the size of UK bread rolls a la Co-Operative. Third of a bowl of asparagus soup. Small steak with side salad, other vegetables and small amount of potatoes. Dessert a small slice of a sort of light cheesecake. No alcohol served at all, and in fact only water and coffee. This was a meal served to a group of top physicians in Korea attending an important annual congress. My second observation was actually a secondary one. I was trying to work out why the airports function better and quicker than UK. The answer is essentially no shops ( certainly no unnecessary ones) and few restaurants. So the whole area is not clogged up by people rampaging for their ninth meal of the morning. Compare and contrast with any USA airport where it seems de rigeur to eat a massive meal even though one is going on a 1 hour flight. So, simple deductions,Watson. Eat less and do not get overweight.

I would definitely return here both in a professional capacity and for a holiday. And in fact I am quite taken with South Korea and shall be cheering them on in the olympics!

Busan from the 33rd floor

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