If you have been to Korea, you may have realized that Koreans are not very warm when it comes to human interactions. Besides the couples you may see holding hands, there are not many other displays of affection. Sometimes it can be awkward when it comes to interactions between Koreans and foreigners because of the different ways we display affection. But, underneath that cold exterior, there is kindness. I will tell you why.
Kindness Upon Arrival
Before coming to Korea I hopped onto a language-learning app so that I could learn Korean and make friends. And, some of the people I met there are still my friends to this day. I am so grateful for their friendship.
There was this one particular friend that warmed my heart with gratitude. I had just arrived in Korea, after a 35-hour plane ride, and was completely exhausted. At the airport, I had bought some instant noodles and some other necessities I thought could come in handy, given the situation I was in. Once arriving at my Airbnb, I would have to quarantine for a week.
Since I was so tired, I grabbed what I thought was enough and headed to get my PCR done. Thing is, I told this friend that I had gotten myself some ramen and he was very adamant in telling me it wasn’t a healthy meal. I just sent him a smiling sticker and told him I couldn’t order healthier food because you need a residence card to do almost anything in Korea, and my appointment to get that done was in three weeks.
The next thing I knew, he had sent food to my doorstep, enough to last me a couple of days. It was Korean traditional food and he had made sure it wasn’t spicy, as I was not used to spicy food yet. He had dropped off some fruits too. So, I had something to have for breakfast too! He also added a sticky note with a smiley face and “I hope this is enough” written on it. I still have that sticky note with me, as it was the first thing I got here in Korea and it means a lot to me.
What Friends Are For
And, well… If you are a student you may know the struggle of making ends meet. There’s been a couple of times in which I have had to rely only on instant food because the economy hasn’t been on my side.
So I had an appointment to meet with a friend when I realized that if I went to have dinner with her –and paid for my half, as usual, I would not be able to have my usual cup of coffee for a few days until I got my allowance for the next month. Hence, I decided to text her and let her know that we should wait to meet. I told her that I was running low on money and that I was sorry, but I needed to cancel our plans.
And she sent me two emojis laughing. Laughing. I was so confused for a second until I got her next text: “don’t worry about it. I will pay this time, and next time you can pay for me”. She showed so much kindness in paying for my meal because she didn’t want us to cancel our plans.
When we met I was kind of embarrassed when she asked me what I wanted to eat and she took out her card to pay for it all. But she shrugged it off. “That’s what friends are for”, she stated.
Kindness in Sickness
Finally, one of my favorite memories here in Korea.
It was the good old days when I had a boyfriend. He used to work away from Seoul so we would only see each other on the weekend. Which, was completely fine for both of us.
That weekend we had agreed that we wouldn’t be able to meet because he had some deadlines to meet, and I was okay with it. He said it was desk work and that he could come to meet me if I needed him to. But, I said that he would be more comfortable in his workplace, so we decided to not meet.
And then, Thursday came and I fell sick. It was the kind of sickness where your whole body hurts and you don’t want to even go to the restroom because it makes you tired. Of course, I told him. We were previously talking about what I was planning on doing on my boyfriend-free weekend. But, I told him that all of my plans disappeared because I would be not leaving my bed until I felt better.
Flash forwarding to Friday night, when I was still feeling pretty sick. He appeared at my place. He was carrying medicine, food, and some vitamins, and cuddled me for the longest time. I took my medicine and he worked from my place while I slept the cold away.
So no, Koreans aren’t cold-hearted, there is a hidden kindness. They just need a little time to open up. But, when they do, they are the sweetest friends you could ever ask for.
If you are looking for friends in Korea, Click Here. This article contains some common ways that you can make friends in Korea.