Love to Hate Korea: Costco


It’s no secret that Costco in Korea is the epitome of a modern hellhole designed to rip your soul out, divvy it up with a rusty and blunt axe, chew it, then spit it right back at you, so you you put it back inside, then turn around and do it all over again. This place steals so much attention and causes so much heartbreak and frustration, but let’s not forget that all it is is a bloody supermarket!

But why is the place just destined to constantly infuritate me? I blame people. Because, let’s face it, all the ills of the world are brought about by our fellow humans, and Costco in Korea is a perfect example of this.

To get into the place you have to tackle the car park (because let’s be honest only an amateur would take the bus or train to Costco), where the wonderful Korean driving etiquette phenomenon is magnified. Here, the larger and more foreign your car the more entitled you are to be a fucker, while the little guy who has been bullied really doesn’t care who or what you are, and just drives straight over you. Do you see the difference? That’s right, there is none. Rules out the window to beat the band!

This is a mild description, as the car park is really only a primer for the zoo downstairs. In this Parthenon of consumption every man is equal (but some believe themselves to be more equal than others) and wealth and status can no longer be displayed by the make and colour of your car.

I used to think people were just so damn disgusting towards me because I was a foreigner, but the more I have observed this phenomenon I can steadfastly proclaim that no one gives a shit about anyone but themself in this passage to hades of a glorified 광장시장! In fact it’s worse than there. A. Lot. Worse!

It’s like people take the shopping trollies merely as a tool to beat other people out of the way as they browse. Not only do they not look where they’re going, generally I believe they study the area they want to go before hand, and then plot the most insane crowd inducing route possible, including where they can dump their trolley. I find the people who buy one or two things, like a packet of Calvin Klein underwear and some dried jujube, to be the worst perpetrators.

For else that may be right or wrong with Costco in Korea, it’s the culmination of so many people milling around oblivious to the fact that there are a few million within spitting distance of them, and then when they notice these other people they look at them as if they are something disagreeable inside their shoe, that really makes Costco an awful experience that I would reluctantly wish on my worst enemy.

And I am not even going to go into the details of the food court (and here too!)!

But…

I am a consumer and Costco is fantastic because the stuff they sell there is so much better than any other bog standard Homeplus or Emart, and that’s a fact; (generally speaking) better meat, better fruit, better vegetables, better selection of bread, drinks, alcohol, dairy, and whole lot other stuff. And I like eating nice food and buying over priced goods that I probably don’t need Yes you can find better quality stuff in Korea, and cheaper too, but if you are talking about better quality products at an affordable price then Costco is your man.

(Added bonus tip: Costco has a decent electronics section, which is good value, and they also are very helpful with returns and damaged goods, which a lot of the cheaper websites will not even look at you sideways when you’ve even a whisper of complaint)

Yeah I know I’m repeating the same draft that so many other people trump the place by, and believe it or not, the insane fellow customers are in fact worth the battle to get your hands on all that crap which make living in Korea more doable. Hell, I’d do it every week for the bread and cheese only.

Of course, having and car and being able to take home a whole boot load of food makes this whole experience worth the madness.

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Yeongtong Just Got Better!


Believe it or not, Yeongtong-dong in Suwon has just increased its position on some quality of life scale somewhere in the world. Previously I was frustrated over the never ending subway works right outside my apartment, but the good news is that they have finally been completed! Celebrations are in process.

A somewhat irresponsible photograph of the lay of the land outside the brand-spanking new Cheongmyeong Station!

A somewhat irresponsible photograph of the lay of the land outside the brand-spanking new Cheongmyeong Station!

You can read and see how it used to be here!

here is a view from the opposite direction of how the street looked!

here is a view from the opposite direction of how the street looked!

This wonderful surprise was waiting when myself, Herself, and +1 returned home for the first time the other day. It will be exciting as we may actually take a joyous adventure on the subway. Exciting, right?

Of immediate importance however is that the long metal planks which covered the station works, and for the past two years seemingly amplified with an echo the rumble and whirr of cars passing over them, have been removed. A bright black layer of tarmacadam has been put down, and to add to the convenience there are shiny white road markings so that cars can avoid veering in front of your whilst passing through the intersection at high speed. What’s more, it’s now quiet. I don’t mean Mastermind concentration levels of silence, but definitely quiet enough to leave the windows open on hot days and not be too bothered by the traffic. Of course I’ll know better in the summer.

Still, the rest of the above ground subway works further down the line still leave much to the imagination – across from the Homeplus it’s absolute chaos and every time I pass through is a lucky dip with predicting how the lanes will be arranged. The same can be said for other stops. But that doesn’t bother me so much as outside my home is finally SILENT…er…ish.

So, if you’ve nothing better to be doing with your free time why not hop on the old Yellow line and take the new extension all the way down to Cheongmyeong Station. It’ll change your life…er…ish.

Getting my Knees Dirty on Korean New Year


On Friday night we boarded a bus in Suwon expecting hours of traffic packed in between tumults of snow. We hoped the journey would take less than five hours and, if we were lucky, the bus driver would at least leave the reading lights on, unlike the last time we took the bus.

We knew what was ahead. Korean New Year is famous for the lines of impregnable traffic on the express-way, and for the previous two days, both the weather forecast and my father-in-law had been warning us about the snow that was going to stop the world that existed around us.

Two hours into our journey along the expressway I awoke with a shudder and snort. The bus was cruising steadily along the expressway at an unfamiliar speed, perhaps over 80 kilometres an hour, and we were passing Munmak, thaat perpetual traffic black spot on the Yeongdong Expressway.

It seemed that the worst traffic we would be encountering along the road would have been in Suwon as we made our way painstakingly through the Friday evening, after-work rush. It was unexplainable, so much so that we found ourselves complaining about the lack of traffic, and the lack of snow.

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Chuseok Diary


I’m sitting in the living room after finishing another massive feed. My mother and father in-law are visiting, as is my brother-in-law. It’s kind of a proud moment for me. Today, I’m the man-of-the-house that is hosting the family’s Chuseok get-together. Herself doesn’t really have a big family – only her parents and one younger brother – and the majority of her parent’s brothers and sisters have lived far away for a long time so the family tend to do their own thing at Chuseok. It’s small, but cosy enough in its own way. It’s also quiet, which is also nice especially when I compare it to the frantic Christmases we have back in Ireland.

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