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Life in Asia: Differences Between Living In Japan and Korea

Living in Asia

By HeetaPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

If you prefer listening or watching instead of reading, please click the link above!


My experience with ESL teaching has been in South Korea (4 years) and Japan (1 year). So do keep in mind this list is mostly experential and hopefully factual for the majority.

Find topics related to teaching and living in Korea and Japan in the playlist here

1. Commuting on public transportation

To put it succinctly, public transportation in Korea is more:

  • Cheaper (e.g. bullet trains in Korea are approximately 10 USD compared to Japan's 70 USD for the same amount of time on the train. Same applies to taxis, buses, metro, subways, etc.). I even measured the distance for taxis, and what would cost me 6-7 USD cost me 33 USD for 6 kilometers of driving)
  • Newer (given that Korea started developing later on in the timeline)
  • Flexible (e.g. always available for a later time frame even in the smaller cities in Korea)
  • Slightly more reliable (though blame that on the whimsical weather situations in Japan)

Where do I like it better? Korea!

2. Work Environment

To put it in a nutshell, the work environment in Japan is more:

  • Relaxed in terms of communication with co-staff and boss
  • Open to suggestions, opinions, and concerns
  • Slightly better chances of climbing the career ladder

Where do I like it better? Japan

Note: I have worked in Korea for four years and in Japan for exactly a year when I type this. So, the comparison is quite skewed. But so far, I am preffering Japan in this regard.

3. Fashion

  • Korea is a bit more socially strict in terms of how they dress outside of their homes
  • Japan in contrast is quite a bit more laidback

Where do I like it better? Korea (subjectively speaking)!

Why!? The current fashion trends popular in Korea are right up my alley. So I didn't find it that hard to dress accordingly. And bonus, I could literally wear the same outfit at work and outside of work. And as someone who spends most of my time at work, dressing up was so fun. So far Japan has been and overall seems more strict about work apparel (too restrictive and boring for me).

4. Interacting with people

In the videos, I focused more so on the students. But here I will focus more on generally talking with everyone. Japanese people are quite a bit more shy when it comes to socializing compared to Korean people.

Where do I like it better? I don't mind taking control of the conversation, and neither do I mind someone else initiating it. I don't have a preference.

5. Technology

Korea is more efficient and advanced in ways that affect your day-to-day life. Detailed article and video coming soon. Stay tuned!

Where do I like it better? Korea

6. Salary + Living Cost

Salary for me was almost twice as much and living costs were literally half as much in Korea.

Where do I like it better? Korea

7. Tourism

Japan, being a bigger country, simply has more to offer in terms of sites to visit.

Where do I like it better? Japan (except for the costs)

8. Interviewing for jobs

In my last round of interviews in Korea, I passed 8 out of 10 while visiting home back in Canada. In my current round of interviews in Japan while being in Japan, I passed 4 out of 10.

  • Fail 1: They wanted me to do an in-person interview which would have required 300 CAD dollars worth of traveling. No, thank you. I did pass the video interview though.
  • Fail 2: They wanted someone who was already in an area and had their own apartment.
  • Fail 3: They found someone within the area.
  • Fail 4: The demo requirements seemed like a red flag, so I shuffled my way out of there.
  • Fail 5: We like you, but we still have more applicants to go through. (Cool, message recieved).
  • Fail 6: No driver's license (which I now have).

Where do I like it better? Korea, on a subjective note.

9. Customer Service

Japan is more friendly, and Korea is more reserved. I visited Lulu Lemon in both countries, the Japanese worker seemed more eager to talk, no one talked to me in Korea.

Where do I like it better? While, generally I do prefer the Korean way (leave me to my own devices). The Japanese customer service has been so helpful in many important instances aka government offices (compared to similar situations in Korea), that objectively speaking Japan is better.

10. Spicy Food

Korea has spicy cuisine and to my utter surprise, Japan doesn't.

Where do I like it better? Neither, since as a vegetarian I don't partake in either cuisine.

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About the Creator


Books are a passion. Fashion is a hobby. Sociology is my accomplishment. And thus, I bring you, a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. #Unedited #Freestyle #Wordvomit

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