since I have been living in Korea for… the 4th year now and I think that I’ve been to Japan enough to know a handful of their culture and people, I have to admit that I am far away from knowing enough so whatever I write, it’s based on my own experience. you may agree to it or not but I am not stereotyping, just based on what I know!


1. we can’t deny the fact that both Japan and Korea have a long history linking to… Mr. Confucius/Master Kong/공자님. hence the similarities we can see will definitely be hardworking. Koreans and Japanese people alike, are very very very hardworking. it’s normal to work 6 days a week. normal to work OT without getting paid extra. normal to go to work on Sundays. and most of all, normal to LISTEN TO YOUR SENIORS. which is the part which I dislike the most. seniors could ask the new comers to do anything unrelated to their job and nobody will say no to it if they wanna keep their job. but of course, even amongst my friends, there are exceptions.

2. RUSH HOURS. okay this might be crazier in Tokyo but it’s basically very crowded everywhere in the cities in these 2 countries especially during the rush hour. you’ll have to be prepared to be sandwiched between the sea of people if you were to work in any of these countries. and when getting off work, be prepared to be BUMPED and hit on the arm accidentally with NO APOLOGIES (most cases). I thought Japanese people are very polite all the while until.. I got bumped countless times in Tokyo and nobody seemed to care. I was curious of course, so I asked my friends working in Tokyo. “we’re tired too! we simply don’t have the energy to be nice.” legit.

3. jealousy. if you’re in a relationship with men or women from any of these two countries, be sure to be careful and not simply hang out with friends of the opposite sex. they wouldn’t like it. at all.

4. efficiency. okay this differs a little but you can live in these two countries’ cities without a car easily. while it is very confusing in Japan with all the different companies and amount of station, it is rather simple and easy for foreigners to commute around in Seoul. there are also convenience stores everywhere for your convenience although for this, Japan’s a little ahead.

5. conservative but open. at least for most younger generations. pretty shocking. walking openly into a 18+ shop? normal. reading 18+ magazines? very normal. that’s more to Japan whereas in Korea.. it’s pretty abnormal. you shall never do anything weird in public. but in terms of openness? pretty similar. although Korea’s a few steps behind Japan in many ways.


I actually think that Japan and Korea have a lot of differences despite being so close to each other. just an hour or two flight away, a whole different place.

1. Japan : individualistic. Korea: everyone’s your family. in Korea, you might see people getting up and offering their seats to the elderly (without being thanked normally because it’s what they SHOULD do). whereas in Japan, everyone’s tired hence.. get your own seat. you want to sit so do I. age does not matter. I do feel like the Japanese people should get their butts up when they see a weak elderly though.. even though the elderly in these two countries are doubtlessly pretty healthy, we young people are no matter what, stronger.

2. the other thing about Japan being individualistic is that.. they see everyone as somebody else and not their family. it’s quite sad how they couldn’t open themselves and it makes you feel so much like someone unworthy of their time. but in the contrary, if you were to ask for directions, they’d definitely do their best to do so because they are brought up to be polite. but if you faint in the middle of the street.. good luck with that. you better hope someone care. in Korea, even if you don’t need anybody to care for you, they would or they’d ask you for help when you aren’t supposed to. in many many ways that I will talk non stop till the next morning if I had to say everything. an example is.. going to a spa and getting people tell you “wow, how nice to be young” “scrub my back” etc. it gets pretty bothersome at times.

3. if you lose your wallet in Japan, people would pass it to the police officer and you’ll probably get it back with your money still in it. but in Korea? well.. maybe you’ll get your wallet back.. not sure whether your money will still be inside. but my friends had lost their phones in Korea countless times T_T. but of course, there are exceptions. while my Japanese friends had never seen any weird crimes and won’t pocket money or whatsoever they’ve found, I witnessed a snatch thief in Osaka once on the FIRST day I was there.

4. noise level. isn’t it crazy how nobody talks in the subway in Japan? there are even broadcasts about how you should avoid talking on the phone and that you should switch off your phone when you’re near the priority seats. in Korea.. well it isn’t noisy all the while. but it can get pretty noisy. nobody cares if you talk so it’s kind of a carefree country to be in sometimes.

5. sense of style. my Korean friend once told me “how come everyone in your country look so different?!” people in Korea just seem to fall in love with the same thing every time. when there’s something in style. everyone follows. sometimes.. including me. hahaha. can’t help it. an example would be the fame of Cruciani bands. but in Japan, everyone seem to have their own style. even if you call it Japanese style, it’s divided into many parts and everyone’s pretty unique/weird in their own way.

6. payment method. while in Korea everyone pays with their debit card, almost everyone uses cash or credit card in Japan. but the problem with Japan is.. there aren’t many places which accepts credit card. and the convenience of ATM differs a lot too! in Korea, it costs 500won to withdraw money on the weekends or off working hours normally. but in Japan it costs around.. say.. 300yen or so? that’s about 3,000won. which is crazy.

7. men’s beauty. (some) Korean men put on make up and (most) Japanese men shape their brows. period.

8. computers. while the internet speed is.. quite similar except Korea’s faster, most people don’t have fast or high tech computers in Japan than expected.

9. mindset. Japan : earn and spend. YOLO. Korea : perfection is needed. everyone else’s looking!

10. food. obvious? well they are both very delicious but Japanese people train for years and everything’s an art. as for Koreans, they estimate everything and it’s the final taste that matters!

here’s some of the things I noticed. I bet I missed a lot, so let me know!

9 thoughts on “Similarities and Differences between Japan and Korea

  1. Allan says:

    Great post. Informative and amusing. Interesting in fact. Keep it up Jamie! 😀


    Jamie Liew Reply:

    Thanks!!! Keep reading!


  2. Fiona says:

    Number 7 on DIFFERENCES is Interesting!


  3. Nabila says:

    I’m quite agree for the whole similarities and differences between these two countries (from what I’ve heard), because I only have been to Japan, but have never been to Korea.. And I couldn’t agree more for how helpful japanese when it comes to give direction haha.. Oh ya I have plan to Korea next October, perhaps do u know what date is busan firework festival? P.S.: I love ur blog sooooo much that I regularly open your blog twice a month tehehe


    Jamie Liew Reply:

    Omg thank youuu. You should open my blog even more often now!!


  4. donna moore says:

    Why is everyone in “hurry” mode?


    Jamie Liew Reply:

    I guess they are tired.. haha


  5. Laura says:

    Hey! So are you currently living in Korea at the moment ??


  6. Jen says:

    Nice post, although, I’d have to disagree with differences mentioned in point No. 9. Japanese are so responsible with their money that not only do they not have pets, but their birth rate has fallen as a result of choosing not to marry. Reason being is that the average Japanese male feels responsible for not only their lives, but that of their aging parents. They refuse to marry since they feel they do not have the means to support a new family, as a result, the birth rate in Japan is in a scary rapid decline. We have successful friends in Japan and their conservatism is astonishing. They are an absolute savings culture.


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