Culture Shock: Public Spitting in Korea

I left my heart in Seoul. The people are friendly and helpful. The food is great. The shopping experience is beyond expectation; a lot of good quality stuffs in relatively affordable price and they don’t cheat on customers.

Nonetheless, one thing bothers me. One thing never shown in K-Pop clips and K-dramas. During my travel, I repeatedly notice young Koreans, both male and female, spitting in public as if it is part of an everyday life. Though BB cream and plastic surgery may conceal their real age, I assume it is between 15 to 30 years old.

Generally speaking, nothing new about spitting in public. But it’s the frequency that I find beyond normal. Mostly, they spit on streets and on public garbage bins or ashtray bins situated inside and outside buildings.

2013-09-27 18.09 crowds

It comes to my surprise as well that the young and fancy girls are as excelled as the guys at making the sound of clearing throat (from sputum). To be honest, that throat clearing sound is “loud” and gross. Especially when someone does that in front of or next to me. Although he or she has no intention to redirect it to me, but the activity can be seen very clearly although I’m trying not to pay attention to it.

However, the spitting habit never happens in prohibited places, such as imperial palace gardens, ponds, and of course you’ll never see that “ritual” inside shopping malls, except in public toilets.

Apart from that, apparently this habit only belongs to younger generations I mentioned. I have never (or rarely) seen older or more mature people actually spit on streets.

Perhaps, spitting in public is something common for them. But not for me.

Does this phenomena only happen in Seoul or the rest of Korea as well? I don’t know, really. But still, it’s a shocking discovery in a developed country whose music, fashion and make-up trends have nowadays become a global inspiration from east to west.