I just got back last night from a brief quasi-business trip to Seoul. The most memorable part was getting off the plane, turning on my phone and seeing an e-mail from Adam which read, in full:
Subject: Abe resigning!
Body: YES screw that guy
That’s way better coverage than any Japanese news site, in my opinion.
Anyway, after wandering around Seoul for a day or so like a typical bemused tourist (this was my first time in Korea), here are some conclusions I have reached:
Six things that are better in Korea
- Street food. Festivals in Japan are good for this sort of thing, I guess, but don’t come anywhere close to Jongno at night.
- Toothbrushes. Japanese toothbrushes have a tiny head that might belong on an electric toothbrush but makes manual toothbrushing twice as laborious. Korea has nice, big, industrial-strength toothbrushes that don’t mess around.
- Mobile phone reception. My phone never lost a bar on the subway ride from the airport to downtown. Words cannot express the frustration I have when I’m riding the Tokyo metro, see an interesting item in my Gmail inbox, hear the train doors closing, frantically click to try to load the message before the train goes off into the tunnel, and end up staring at the screen for the next two minutes wondering why the train is suddenly going so damn slow.
- StarCraft and Counterstrike on television. Korean cable is awesome even if I can’t understand most of it.
- Chopsticks. Those stainless-steel Korean restaurant chopsticks are practically lethal weapons, and I get the feeling that with enough Korean chopstick training I could kill a man with my bare hands. I imagine this is part of the point, actually.
- Women. If we’re to use a hotness scale here, Korea has both a higher mean and a narrower standard deviation. Or, in layman’s terms, there are more hotties and the hotness is more consistent. Not to disparage Japanese women, of course—beauty is more than skin-deep, but, well, the skin is where it shows first.
Six things that are better in Japan
- Cleanliness. Granted, this is better in Japan than anywhere else in the world (except maybe Singapore), and Seoul is certainly not as bad as Shanghai, but Seoul still has the grubbiness of a major American or European city about it, and the air quality could use some work.
- Convenience stores. Korean convenience stores come close in many respects, but they’re missing something. Was it bentos? Maybe softcore porn?
- Manners. This is another area where Korea seems to be in a zone smack between Japan and China. In Japan, nobody bothers anybody most of the time. In China, everybody bothers everybody all the time. In Korea, shopkeepers are often pushy and homeless people occasionally rattle their coin mug in your face, but for someone used to the Japanese way of doing things, that seems like a lot. (Which just goes to show how Japan can spoil someone.)
- Walking. Seoul is walkable here and there, but much more spread out than Tokyo, and in the north-central area, being unable to cross the street seems more like the norm than the exception.
- Money. The new won notes look just like euros. The yen at least looks unique. Even if the phoenix on the back of the 10,000 yen note looks rather nightmarish, you at least have the comfort of Fukuzawa Yukichi staring down your trading partner as if thinking “I am not amused.”
- Trains. If you compare a map of the Seoul subway system to a map of the Tokyo subway system, the two look like equals, but that ignores the fact that (a) Tokyo’s subway lines cover a much smaller geographic area, so the stations are far more densely crammed in together, and (b) Tokyo also has scores of train lines that aren’t subways, while Seoul doesn’t have much more than the lines on the subway map. I really wanted more excuses to ride the subway around, but it always ended up being much easier to walk or hail a cab.
Anyway, those are my completely uneducated opinions at first immersion. A public “thank you” to Brendon Carr of Korea Law Blog for showing me where to get good curry, and to United Airlines for making intra-Asia mileage award tickets so darn cheap. I’ll be back one of these days…
34 thoughts on “Joe’s thoughts after 24 hours in Seoul”
I was that typical bemused tourist for a few days last summer. Agree with all you say, sir, especially the street food – there’s the odd oden stand, or the ramen yatai down in Fukuoka, but Japan doesn’t really have the same variety or availability. As for the subway, the one thing that annoyed me was that your ticket only worked one way, so if you overshot your stop you had to pay more to go back the other way. A great city, nonetheless. Glad you enjoyed it.
Kickass awesome post.
I think you should rephrase to make it clear that you’re comparing Seoul and Tokyo more so than Korea and Japan. I mean, is walkability really worse in the COUNTRY overall, or just in the crazy hilly area they decided to build Seoul?
Did your Japanese phone work in Seoul? That’s pretty shocking to me, since mine sure didn’t when I visited from Japan in 2002 or 2004.
Street food, and street life/markets in general is probably one of the biggest things Japan lacks compared with any other Asian country. I know there used to be a lot more of it, and concerns over hygiene and looking modern had something to do with its elimination, but is that really the whole story? I’d love to see some research on that.
“If we’re to use a hotness scale here, Korea has both a higher mean and a narrower standard deviation. ”
Is it a matter of more homogenic fashion in Korea, or is it that- despite what Aso says – Japan actually has more ethnically diverse roots and hence more variety of natural appearance?
Mobile phones have come a long way since 2004! Most of DoCoMo’s models can roam on other 3G networks, which covers most of Europe and the “developed” countries in Asia (Korea, Singapore, etc.) There are a handful that can roam on GSM as well, but those are older models and they aren’t nearly as useful or cool-looking as the 3G-only alternatives (this was disappointing to me because I wanted a phone I could use in both Japan and the US). I’m not sure about AU but I know that Softbank has many models that can do 3G and GSM roaming worldwide.
The one problem I had was getting i-mode to work: apparently you have to toggle a hidden setting somewhere to enable international web roaming. This is how I discovered the wonderful connectivity of the Seoul subway network, because I spent half of the trip from Gimpo to downtown trying to find that elusive i-mode setting. I had reception the whole time, though…
“Is it a matter of more homogenic fashion in Korea, or is it that- despite what Aso says – Japan actually has more ethnically diverse roots and hence more variety of natural appearance?”
Maybe you guys came 10years too late.
During the late 1990ies, I remember a Europian friend expressing his surprise after visiting Japan, that he didn’t thought “that there were so many whores” in Japan. Recently, it seems that the trends of womens fashion is just to the opposite direction (relatively).
5years ago I recall reading an article in Korean newspapers about the decline of “confucian moral” and the tendence of the younger generations of young womens to show their skin.
Last time I checked AU had some special world phones that could roam on GSM, but they were equal in terms of features to crappy phones from 2-3 years previous. I believe the entire Softbank network is GSM compatible, but I could be wrong. I knew a Filipino guy who had a sideline selling using Vodafone handsets back home, because the second hand market for handsets in Japan has been historically nonexistent and you could snap them up for nothing. Maybe awareness of sim cards has spread enough for people to start getting used phones in Japan, but that would also require the mobile phone companies to provide service contracts with just an activated sim card, and not force you to bundle it with a discounted phone.
By the way, in Taipei you get WiFi reception in subway stations. How’s that for connectivity?
Tokyo has wifi in subway stations, too. Nobody actually *uses* it, but it’s there…
Huh, I never even saw a sign for it in Tokyo. Not that I every saw anyone use in in Taipei either.
I had my AU phone worked pretty well when I was there in May.
About the food in the street of Tokyo,It’s mostly because of health ministry’s decision.
Did you tried that weird boiled silk worm cocoon?I try every time I go to Seoul,Still don’t get why some of the local think that tasty.
I found Seoul to actually have better air than Tokyo – maybe it was just when I was there, but the horizon was much more blue than the grey-brown band you get in Tokyo. There’s also a LOT more brick architecture, especially in the more suburban areas, and a lot stronger military presence, both Korean and American (duh). Street food looks nice, but is harder to order (since I don’t speak Korea worth a damn – it was hard enough reading the hangul without trying to put together a coherent sentence). Some hot babes there, but since everyone seems to have the same fashion and make-up style, it’s hard to tell really. Koreans tend to like fancy décor more than Japanese – check out the Lotte Department Store entry, for example. The outdoor markets are better, in general, though some of the areas around Shinjuku are similar.
Joe, you’re welcome. (I’ll be interested to know if you’re still grateful when you get the body cavity search for marijuana or hash next time through Incheon.) I hoped you enjoyed Seoul. You’re a young guy, so the Korean “Hot Tail Factor” probably means you were suitably impressed.
“… if you overshot your stop you had to pay more to go back the other way.”
You just had to go through the gate near the ticket booth and cross over to the other side, entering through the opposite gate without paying twice. Been there, done it a few times myself.
Seoul has the better subway system in that you don’t have to pay another fare for changing lines, as you have to do at some stops in Tokyo. It’s all one line in Seoul, even if you connect to the National Railroad. Better sushi in Tokyo, but Daegu style Korean sushi (Saeng San Cho Bap) is also superior to most Seoul sushi shops. With only three visits to Tokyo, my impression is that Seoul has a lot more green areas. Nam San park is great, and a short to medium subway ride can get you out to a lot more parks. Transportation from the airport is great by bus in both cities, but Seoul now has a subway that runs to Incheon. Still requires a change and additional charge. If either city ever cathes up with Hong Kong, you’ll be able to check your backs and get ticketed at the metro station serving the IAP. To add to joyboy, some stations do are not set up for cross-over, so you have to get back on the train and try the next station that does. I have found numerous station masters who allow the unhappy foreigner to simply re-enter through the controlled gate near the ticket stand without paying. And yes, Korea is the #1 wired country in the world.
I have found numerous station masters who allow the unhappy foreigner to simply re-enter through the controlled gate near the ticket stand without paying.
Japan was like that until about 2000….. I’m sure Korea will catch up shortly.
I’ve been to Seoul five times in the past 16years and always amazed how the subway system gets longer year by year,but I can’t agree with Seoul has more trees and better air than Tokyo.Seoul definitely has better traffic in the center of the city,but that made lots of exhaust gas all over the place and Japan actually has stricter law on exhaust regulation.
One thing I found “better”about Seoul is there are lots of histroric landmarks at the center of the city,especially all the city gates and royal palace.Tokyo was never a walled city like you see in Korea or China,becauese Edo was built when Japan was united by Shogun and being on an island you didn’t need to worry about foreign troops storming in to the city.And while Seoul has magnificent Gyeongbokgung open to all the tourist,Tokyo has empty Imperial palace(partly open to the visitors).Edo castle was burned in 1860 and since then it was never rebuild.If that still existed we would have the largest castle(by counting the whole area covered by the moat) in the whole world.
It was actually under the Japanese that places like the Great South Gate of Seoul were preserved, and although building the government HQ slap-bang in the plaza of the former royal palace was a deliberate affront, it nearly happened that the palace was pulled down to make way for it.
Edo Castle, if defined by its outer moat, did indeed cover the greatest area of any castle, but it’s a pretty hazy issue (how do you define “castle”?), and even if never burned down the vast bulk of its area that now lies outside the Imperial Palace would still be turned into modern urban development. In order for the castle area to remain as it was, the Shogunate and bakuhan system would need to be still in place for a start, to supply the regional lords who lived in the outer compounds.
Seoul likes its subways for another good reason – bomb shelters in case of another attack by the Norks….
“Edo Castle, if defined by its outer moat, did indeed cover the greatest area of any castle, but it’s a pretty hazy issue (how do you define “castle”?), ”
Agreed.But you know,That would make some sexy wording for the tourist industry.
What I had been thinking was if Osaka,Nagoya,Sendai and Naha has a castle or palace that would appeal the tourists,it is a shame that Tokyo doesn’t have any historic land mark.Heck,Even Chiba has one.(Completely a fake castle built in the 60’s though.)
Well, Tokyo Castle does have quite a few towers and walls left, plus those huge moats, and the over-famous Nijubashi. The keep of Edo Castle burned down in the Meireki Fire of 1657, and was never rebuilt (for one thing, the Tokugawa were secure in their power and no longer needed its symbolic [and military] presence), and it’s the keep that people associate with “castle” more than anything.
Tokyo’s historic landmarks are largely either religious or post-Meiji: there is very little of secular Edo left, really. Sendai also lacks a keep, unless they’ve been doing a lot of building since I was last there. And talking of fakes, Osaka, Nagoya, and Naha castles are all modern replicas, some worse than others (Osaka Castle doesn’t really resemble either its Toyotomi or its Tokugawa form).
I don’t know if a castle in Tokyo is really going to be that big a lure – after all, can anything compete with Himeji, one of the most unique buildings in the world? Tokyo’s main historical landmark, for tourists at least, is probably the Sensouji in Asakusa. Is Tokyo Tower old enough to be considered ‘historical’? It’s certainly a landmark, though an ugly one (and yes, I don’t like the Eiffel Tower either). Between the Boshin War (Ueno Sensou etc), the Kanto Earthquake, WW2, and the postwar building boom, it’s actually remarkable that anything is left….
Getting back to other cities, I was impressed by how much of Old Shanghai remains, despite the ravages of war and communism. The Bund beats anything in Japan, and Nanjing Rd still has quite a few prewar buildings along it. Communists, oddly enough, seem to like preserving old townscapes, and it’s not always just because they can’t afford to build new ones – they did a great job in Prague, for example….
I was amazed by Sensouji the first time I saw it, on my second day in the country in 2002. I visited it for the second time in May, when I was staying for a night or two at a hostel in Asakusa (I’d actually been staying at Adam’s wife’s family home, but I had a horrific allergic reaction to her pet or something and had to get out) and found it amazingly underwhelming, and the immediate area of lame knick-knack shops felt cheap and tawdry. Of course, I lived in Kyoto for 3 years. I like wandering around Tokyo and seeing the urban landscape, but I can’t recall anything in the entire city that qualifies as a real tourist attraction on a scale smaller than a neighborhood.
The Eiffel tower is at least impressive as a feat of engineering for the time. In contrast, Tokyo Tower is nothing but a symbol of Japan’s 1960s reputation as a country with a talent for cheap knockoffs and no native genius. But as bad as Tokyo Tower is, it’s nothing compared to the abortion of taste that is Kyoto Tower.
By the way, as nice as it is I’m not sure I would really call The Bund “old Shanghai.” Those buildings are only, what, 100 years old? There was an old Chinese Shanghai before that, but I think now you have to go to Suzhou to get an idea of what it might have looked like. I do still give Shanghai a lot of credit for preserving what they’ve got though. It was a good move to force most of the business development to the other side of the river, which had been more or less empty, and keep the pre-existing city intact. Compare it with the way that Beijing has been decimated.
Well, Shanghai is a very similar city to Yokohama – both developed from much smaller settlements as trade ports – they are both of relatively recent, and Western-influenced, vintage – so in my view, that western-based trading heritage is valid as ‘old Shanghai/Yokohama’. Shanghai was larger before the port development than Yokohama, and shows signs of that in the Yuyuan area, but in general I consider ‘old’ to be pretty much anything prewar (not necessarily ‘Chinese’). The idea of developing Pudong was indeed very good, though it’s a hell of a contrast after wandering the back alleys of the old Chinese city with its poverty and squalor (similar to Tokyo shitamachi in the Showa 30s, only rather more so) and then seeing the glitz and glamour of the glowing lights over the river.
Don’t get me started on Kyoto Tower. I have never been up it, never will, and the only advantage of going up it is that it’s one place in Kyoto where you can’t see it…. And Kyoto Station? Kerr was on the money with his criticism of that vast grey stone monolithic monstrosity. Designed by the HOD Architecture at Kyodai, and supposed to be based on or inspired by or reflect or whatever traditional Japanese architecture? You gotta me kidding me. As one prof I know pointed out when we we passed through it, it looks like nothing so much as the battleship Yamato (from the tracks side). And yes, the Eiffel Tower is preferable to Tokyo Tower….
Funny, the shops selling tacky crap are one of my favourite aspects of Sensouji – I like the steep street (Pottery Lane or something) leading to the Kiyomizudera for the same reason. Tokyo certainly has tourist attractions, but most are postwar, or famous not so much for their looks as what they are. I certainly agree that as a temple, the Sensouji is nothing compared to what can be found in other cities, esp Kyoto and Nara, but for Tokyo, and taken together with its neighbourhood, it’s probably one of the premier Edo-period ones there. However I suspect the single biggest tourist attraction of Tokyo is neither ‘Japanese’ or in Tokyo: Chiba (uh, Tokyo) Disneyland….
Getting back to other cities, I was impressed by how much of Old Shanghai remains, despite the ravages of war and communism.
Well, the Japanese just killed and raped people. The Americans were much more thorough in their destruction: they left NOTHING behind.
I was having a conversation with Curzon just the other day about a hillside near our office called “Shiomizaka,” which literally means something like “the hill for watching the tide.” There was a time when you could actually see Tokyo Bay from there. Now it’s surrounded by skyscrapers. I can’t help but wonder what might have been if the city hadn’t been leveled twice within twenty-five years, if all those single-story homes from the Edo era were left intact and had to be taken down one by one to make room for new development.
If what I’ve learned in high school history class is correct,not only we’ve killed people in Shanghai,we’ve also bombed and gunned from the fleet off the coast.
So Yes it is quite surprising that bund and other Old Shanghai are still there.But you know,even my apartment in Ulaanbaatar was built by the Japanese POW in the late 40’s and still standing,Jade’s theory on communist may have a point.Although I just think they were just not good at building new things.
So all of us are now doing Alex Kerr-ing huh?After all we’ve been ganged up him over reference on Otaku culture,now we are agreeing him over something!
Again I have to second with Jade on Asakusa.It’s charm is basically of simple town folk culture,not the sophisticated taste of artistocrat as you see plenty in Tokyo.I also must urge you that what you see in Asakusa is basically more of Taisyo and early Showa culture,not exactly Edo.
You know,when I took my in-laws from Mongolia to Roppongo hills top floor,and I thought Tokyo Tower looks nice with in among all these tasteless monolith of skyscrapers,Tokyo Tower is sooo Showa and that gives me a feeling of nostaligia.
And Kyoto Tower,Actually the design is better than TT.I even went up there with my in-laws in March when I visited Kyoto for the first time in my 7 years of life,Wasn’t bad actually.
As underwhelming as Sensouji itself is, I really liked the larger Asakusa neighborhood a lot, and Sensouji is definitely part of it. The shops leading up to it (not sure what the street is called) is somewhat equivalent to Kiyomizudera street, but at least a noticeable percentage of that street are people selling traditional Kiyomizu pottery and so on, amidst the cheap crap. Maybe it’s just my ignorance, but the shops in front of Sensouji seemed somewhat more low-rent. Of course, we’re comparing stores in real buildings with stalls, which isn’t really a fair comparison. The greater area around Sensouji has a lot more variety. Asakusa is probably one of my favorite parts of Tokyo for walking around in, and I want to explore it in more detail next time I visit (and of course explore more areas I haven’t been to at all.)
As much as I hate Kyoto tower and love the old buildings in the city, I actually think Kyoto Station is awesome. The design is so oddly fractured, baroque and alien looking in a completely illogical way that I just can’t help but appreciate it. I can not, however, see ANY way in which it reflects traditional Japanese architecture. However, from an urban planning perspective it has been kind of disastrous for the southern part of Kyoto. By cutting laterally through such a large swatch of the city, it has really separate the areas north and south of the station, and had a devastating effect on development to the immediate-mid range south, which looks decades behind the area just to the north. Now, while this means that some of the poorer communities in Kyoto have not been gentrified (including a Zainichi neighborhood kind of S/SE of the station), the area just looks neglected. For a perfect visual example, take the Takasegawa canal, which runs charmingly through the Kiyamachi nightlife district and actually continues far to the south of Kyoto Station, but once you get that far south it no longer has any water in it, and is filled with garbage.
Joe: “I can’t help but wonder what might have been if the city hadn’t been leveled twice within twenty-five years, if all those single-story homes from the Edo era were left intact and had to be taken down one by one to make room for new development.”
Frankly, I’d say you’d have the same view. For two reasons (or more if I think of them): First, the destruction of homes does not mean the loss of property rights – one of the biggest headaches facing the Tokyo city government after the Kanto quake, when they wanted to remodel the destroyed parts, was getting the land. Also, the destruction of 1923 and 1945 were not the only times much of Edo-Tokyo was destroyed; each time it was rebuilt in the same style. These skyscrapers are the result not of urban destruction through fire, but through modernisation and wealth creation, and would have happened anyway. This is shown by looking at cities or areas that were not ravaged in the war – they too are full of skyscrapers etc. However there are areas in Tokyo that developed as they were large and empty – the Shinjuku skyscraper district, on the site of the old water treatment works, is a classic case: it would have been nigh impossible to build like that in downtown.
And actually it’s amazing how much of even Tokyo survived WW2: the bombing was concentrated in the shitamachi area, leaving the yamanote areas largely untouched. So we still have old Meiji houses and temples, the Diet building and the Tokyo National Museum and so on. Quite a ton of prewar architecture really.
Ace is bang on the nose with Asakusa, with the provisio that it was was always the “people’s playground”. In the Taisho period it really boomed, with a zoo, a yuuenchi, the famous “Asakusa 12-stories” building, and the Asakusa Rokku (as in 六区 not rock ‘n’ roll) area of cabarets and theatres and movie houses – still a mecca for such (I believe Beat Takeshi got his start there, for example). And hey, I’m, fair: sometimes Kerr DOES get it right. Sometimes…. (Of course he’d probably prefer everyone had to arrive in Kyoto via palanquin or foot….)
Roy: the street leading to the Sensouji is called Nakamise-doori (仲見世通り) and like most monzen-machi has long been a commercial area. I take your point about the difference in (some) shops, but I generally am only interested in the tacky stuff, so don’t go into over-expensive pot-shops. BTW, a recommended stop after seeing the Kiyomizu is to drop in at some of the namayatsuhashi shops (there’s a bog one near the top) and gorge on free samples – they’re always so crowded you can basically eat your fill…). You’re right about the NS divide, though I think it always existed to some extent. For example, just to take tourist sites, the magnificent Toji, with its tall pagoda and halls of imposing Mikkyou statues, is often far less crowded than frankly lesser temples to the north.
Jade: Maybe it sounds like I’m being too hard on Nakamise-dori. It’s not like I don’t enjoy the tacky stuff fine- I was just trying to contrast my first impression (remember, it was the VERY first temple I saw in Japan, on my second or third day in the country) with my second impression, after three years of living in Kyoto. Aside from the sweet Kaminari-mon, it felt like a completely different place, even though it was exactly the same.
Sure, the N/S divide always existed. After all, the original southern border of Kyoto back in the Heian days was only slightly to the south of Kyoto station’s present day location. Hachi-jo runs directly through the location that the station sits on, so you only have Ku-jo as the only major road south of the station that was inside the original city wall (plus the road actually ALONG the wall.) While I don’t actually know when the southern part of the city, i.e. south of the original outline, became part of Kyoto, it feels to me like it’s never been well integrated into the city, and places like Fushimi, which is technically Kyoto City, feel as much like a different place as Ohara or Kurama-two small villages in the mountains north of the city, which are also technically within its borders.
As for Toji, try visiting it on the day of the monthly fleamarket-the 21st. It’s often so crowded you can barely walk. Of course, Toji is also only a 5-10 minute walk from Kyoto Station. But Toji was in fact built near the old southern city gate, so there really wouldn’t have been any temples farther south of there. I’m not even sure if there’s any temples of historical note between Toji and Uji City. Incidentally, there used to be a “Saiji” to go along with Toji, but it burned down long ago, and unlike most temples that burn down in Kyoto was never rebuilt- Actually, the gate also burned down…
Roy – I well remember my first few days in Japan. I kept a detailed diary at the time, and some of the things I wrote – well, I certainly wouldn’t feel that way now, I can tell you. I can very well understand how exposure to better things can make you change your mind. But as you say, Nakamise doori isn’t that bad. Actually the very first time I went to Toji was the en-nichi day, come to think of it. Talking of East and West, the Saiji burned down in 1223, and the Nara Saidaiji is but a poor shadow of what it once was. No one liked the western ones? Seems a bit odd….
Trying to figure out the borders of ‘Old Kyoto’ and how they affect the modern city is problematic in that the neat rectangle of the Heian period didn’t last that long. By the Sengoku period, for example, the city was basically dumb-bell shaped, divided into north and south areas. So while the old roads remained, they weren’t always residential, nor was the urban space the same (even the palace has moved). Of course we can’t really use modern ‘city’ boundaries to tell anything, as you point out. And after this Heisei Great Amalgamation, things are even sillier (I believe Takayama is now the largest city in Japan – in terms of area…). This is originally because fairly early on in the Meiji period the central govt did away with counties as a unit of local administration, thereby centring rural affairs on the nearest urban area (city, town, or village).
And talking of ‘remote but within city limits’, one place I’ve been long intrigued by is the Ogasawara islands – far enough south (east) to see the Southern Cross, but technically part of Tokyo….
Two words: PLASTIC SURGERY.
LOOK CLOSER, my friend.
Don’t ya know Korean women are world-famous for their fake faces?
Even the women admit to doing too much in their own country.
Not to deny that cosmetic surgery is popular in Korea, but it’s way more popular in Japan in Taiwan, according to statistics — as opposed to netizen rumors and propaganda gurgling out of… ahem, certain other Asian countries, whose denizens feel a sense of competition and rivalry with Korea and are known to tell all sorts of exaggerated or made-up stories about it.
Not to deny that cosmetic surgery is popular in Korea, but it’s way more popular in Japan and Taiwan, according to statistics — as opposed to netizen rumors and propaganda gurgling out of… ahem, certain other Asian countries, whose denizens feel a sense of competition and rivalry with Korea and are known to tell all sorts of exaggerated or made-up stories about it.
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