25 Interesting Facts About South Korea

Posted by , Updated on March 22, 2024

Do you know much about South Korea? If the answer is no, then it would be worth your while to get to know it a little better. Despite its compact size of only 100,000 square kilometers (or 39,000 square miles), South Korea is a fascinating and incredibly varied country, with a range of impressive accomplishments to its name. You may be aware of their powerful economy, cutting-edge technology, and globally influential pop culture, but there’s a lot more to South Korea than just Samsung and Gangnam Style. Nestled in East Asia and surrounded by three global giants — China, Russia, and Japan, each of which has tried to dominate it — South Korea has successfully defended itself and emerged triumphant, gaining international recognition in numerous fields. If you’re keen to uncover the deeper facets of this exceptional nation (and we’re confident that you are), then continue reading. This post could well introduce you to aspects of South Korea that have possibly eluded you so far. From a national fascination with cosmetics to superstitions involving the number 4 and electric fans, here are 25 intriguing facts about South Korea.


South Korean men are literally obsessed with cosmetics. They spend a ton of money on cosmetics products (particularly make-up) in order to improve their appearance. In fact, South Korean men are the world's top per-capita consumers of skincare products, with four times the purchases of runner-up Denmark.

cosmeticsSource: money.cnn.com, image: pixabay.com

Talking about appearance and beauty, South Korea also has the highest rate of plastic surgery per capita in the world. The United States, for example, comes fourth after Brazil and Thailand.

korean womanSource: asianplasticsurgeryguide.com, image: commons.wikimedia.org

South Koreans have a very unusual approach to age. Every South Korean child is considered to be one year old when it is born, and it will turn two on the next Lunar New Year. Furthermore, 100 days after the birth, a huge celebration is held for the baby.

korean babySource: korea4expats.com, image: pixabay.com

South Korea is one of the world´s most urbanized and densely populated countries, but it also boasts astonishing natural beauties. Declared a World Heritage Site, the Jeju Island, for example, is home to stunning rock formations and breathtaking flora.

Jeju islandSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: flickr.com

South Korea is the world leader in internet connectivity, having by far the world's fastest average internet connection speed. About 92.4% of the population are internet users.

pc roomSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

The iconic song "Gangnam Style" by the South Korean musician Psy became the first YouTube video to reach 1 billion views. With more than 2.54 billion views now, it has been YouTube's most watched video since November 2012, when it surpassed "Baby" by Justin Bieber. The phrase "Gangnam Style" refers to a luxury lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul.

gangnam styleSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: flickr.com

South Koreans are famous for their specific cuisine that is heavily based on seafood but few people know they harvest more than 90% of the world’s seaweed consumption.

seaweedSource: www.unitedsucces.com, image: flickr.com

South Korea is famous for its practice of “crime re-creation.” Citizens suspected of crimes such as rape or murder are led by the police in handcuffs to the scene of the crime and ordered to publicly reenact the crime. To make the reenactment even more humiliating, media is also invited to take pictures and publish details about the crime.

handcuffsSource: randomhistory.com, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Most South Korean restaurants (including fast food like McDonald´s) offer food delivery via motorcycle drivers who are notorious for speeding through traffic to deliver the food on time. After you are done eating, you can just put your dirty dishes outside your door and the delivery guy will come for them later.

mcdonald's deliverySource: listverse.com, image: ja.wikipedia.org

A misconception known as the fan death is common in South Korea. Many South Koreans believe that leaving an electric fan on overnight may kill the person sleeping below it. The genesis of the misconception is unclear but fears about electric fans date almost to their introduction to Korea in the 1920's.

fanSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Seoul´s metropolitan area known as the Seoul Capital Area is home to more than 25 million people, currently making Seoul the world's third largest city.

SeoulSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

South Koreans love kimchi, a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables. From cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi to cucumber kimchi, there are about 250 different types of this delicacy.

kimchiSource: xpatnation.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

With more than 11 shots of liquor per person per week, South Korea totally dominates liquor consumption per capita. Runners-up Russians, notorious for their drinking habits, drink “just” 5 shots per person per week.

liquorSource: businessinsider.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

Although South Korea has very high living standards, suicide is a serious and widespread problem. In fact, South Korea has the second-highest suicide rate in the world according to the World Health Organization.

suicideSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: flickr.com

Despite being located right next to North Korea, an infamous aggressor, South Korea is one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. It has an extremely low crime rate and very strict gun policy.

SeoulSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Taxis in South Korea are color coded according to the level of service offered. An orange or silver taxi is a basic car, while the black cabs are luxury cars.

orange taxiSource: avenue86.com, image: en.wikipedia.org

Many South Koreans suffer from tetraphobia – fear of the number 4. The floor number 4 is almost always skipped in hospitals and public buildings. In other buildings, the fourth floor is sometimes labeled "F" instead of "4" in elevators. Apartment numbers containing multiple occurrences of the number 4 (such as 404) are also likely to be avoided.

tetraphobiaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Similarly to their problem with the number four, South Koreans are also very superstitious when it comes to writing things in red. The color red symbolizes death in South Korea, and if you write a person´s name in red, it means that you either want them to die or you think they will die soon.

red pencilSource: strawhatbackpacker.com, image: pixabay.com

Despite increasing controversies and criticism in recent years, dog meat is still eaten in some (mostly impoverished) areas of South Korea. Dating back more than 2,000 years ago, the tradition of eating dogs is still alive in the country, but as more and more South Koreans have been refusing to eat dogs, it might come to an end.

dogSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: pixabay.com

For 62 years, adultery was illegal in South Korea. It was not until February 2015 when the country´s Constitutional Court overturned the law that made adultery a crime, saying it violated their constitution.

loversSource: cnn.com, image: pixabay.com

Seoul residents are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world. On average, a Seoul resident sleeps less than six hours a day, which is – along with people living in Tokyo – the least amount of sleep in the world.

sleeping manSource: cnbc.com, image: flickr.com

Each July, the town of Boryeong (200 km south of Seoul) hosts arguably the largest mud festival in the world. The Boryeong Mud Festival features various mud contests and fights but also massages and therapies. Since it was staged in 1998, the festival has attracted millions of visitors to Boryeong.

mud festivalSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Many South Koreans believe your blood type reflects your personality. They take this thing very seriously, similarly to people in Western countries who believe in horoscopes.

blood typeSource: swigmeetsworld.com, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Samsung alone is responsible for 20% of South Korea´s $1.1 trillion economy. While most people think Samsung only produces electronics, the company also manufactures armored vehicles, oil tankers, appliances, door locks, medical equipment and much more.

SamsungSource: www.theatlantic.com, image: youtube.com

Instead of air heaters, South Koreans have heated floors. Called “ondol” (warm stone), the heat is passed in pipes under the floor. The heating system goes back to the Koguryo Dynasty (37 BC to 668 AD), but it is still very popular with more than 90% of the houses using it today. Therefore, South Koreans often eat, sleep, and watch TV on the warm floor.

ondolSource: randomhistory.com, image: en.wikipedia.org