Korean Tourists and Package tours - 40
It is understandable that, with vacations which usually can be no more than 5 days, Koreans are often keen to see as much as possible and visit as many places as possible when going abroad. One of the most popular trips abroad, is a package tour of Europe usually taking in Switzerland, Italy, UK, France and sometimes one other country. The younger sometimes prefer the freedom of Inter-railing in the summer time, but just as many join their fellow countrymen on the beloved package tours.
The Korean tours are always crammed with places and thus it is never a surprise when asking a Korean what places in the UK for example, they have seen and to be quoted Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Big Ben, Hyde Park and the theatre district. My first question on hearing that someone had visited London, England used to be “What did you think of the pubs” but I gave up asking after a while, on finding out that hardly anyone goes to England and goes to a pub. Not visiting a pub in England, is like being in Korea and not visiting a Korean restaurant. It is unthinkable.
If you are a foreigner you should at least try bulgogi, Dak-kalbi, Kimchi, Pibimpap, a few glasses of Soju or Beck-Se-Ju. Koreans visiting England really should visit a pub. The pubs in England are not similar in anyway to American bars or Korean bars and are an insight into the culture of England. The same problem happens when I ask Koreans who visited Italy on a package tour, what they thought of the Italian wine, the cheese and/or the traditional Italian pizza. Note to self: Remember to bring back more Beck-Se-Ju to England next time and make people try it.
Seeing a lot in a short time - Korean vacations
Our friend Sky, who we mentioned earlier, who came to our wedding on the island of Sicily, Italy recently, was insistent when organising his travel plans that 3 days would be too much on the large island (area of 25,000 sq. km and 5 million inhabitants). Sky was instead thinking of trying to fly to a new city every day. Many Koreans, when they talk about staying on an island, seem to measure islands in accordance with their own island of ‘Jeju-Do’. Jeju Island is a relatively small island, which you could manage to get around in one day.
There are of course many positives as well as negatives, about travelling on a package holiday. Travelling around Europe and doing so, with little English speaking ability, would otherwise be very difficult. I always respect people who are willing to travel to other countries and experience even a little of other cultures, because I feel it shows a certain willingness to be open-minded and to learn about how others live. Many people in England in fact, also travel on package tours, although the majority go to Spanish coastal areas and spend their time consuming way too much alcohol and getting far too much sun and not seeing anything outside of the one resort. The popular trip around Europe that Koreans do certainly takes in an interesting variety of places. I was in the British Museum in London a few weeks ago actually, and there were dozens of Korean groups walking around.