More than 3 months and a half have passed by since I came to Switzerland and started working at Supertext. There were many things that were very new and strange to me, but curiously, I could also find similarities between Korea and Switzerland.
Of course, the most obvious difference between a European and an Asian country would be the food. According to my observation, most Swiss food has a lot of cheese (as generally assumed), eaten with bread or potatoes and other vegetables. In Korea, a basic meal consists of a bowl of rice, soup, some side dishes, and Kimchi, which is made of salted cabbage with pickled fish and chilli pepper powder. The Swiss and Korean cuisine seem very different, but actually Kimchi is fermented food like cheese. It contains lactobacilli, thus has similar good effects.
To my surprise, I found many people here asking me whether it snows in Korea. Quite a lot of people seem to think that Korea is a tropical country. Korea has four seasons like Switzerland, and in Seoul it snows quite a lot in the winter. The weather differs a lot, though. In the summer with the monsoon and the typhoon there is a huge amount of rain, flooding many parts of Korea every year. This increases the humidity greatly, and makes the heat that goes up to 30 degrees unbearable. Compared to this, the summer here seems very mild and pleasant. Also I noticed the absence of the deafening song of cicadas. The winter I have yet to experience, but already I am surprised by the early sunset, as I was bewildered by the late sunset in summer.
Switzerland is renown for its beautiful mountain views. I also have been on some hiking trips in the summer. In Korea we have a lot of mountains too; 2/3 of the land is mountainous. Like the Swiss, many Koreans also hike as a hobby (although I’m not one of them). The mountains in Korea are much less in height than the Swiss mountains. The highest mountain in Korea, the Baekdu Mountain (left), in the border between North Korea and China, is 2750m above sea level. The next highest mountain, Hanla Mountain (right), in Jeju island in South Korea, is 1950m high. This is fairly small compared to Jungfrau which is 4166m high.
Also in Korean mountains you cannot hear the bells of cows, but sometimes you can here the scriptures being recited from old buddist temples deep in the mountains. Many Swiss mountains have a great view together with a lake alongside it, but in Korea you can see the sea instead.
There are countless differences between these two countries, but it is interesting to see the similarities that can be found in the midst of those differences.
Cover picture via Flickr: tourists – David Billingham (CC BY-SA 2.0)