November 17, 2012

Driving In Korea (Part 1)

I have seen on Facebook and heard other people talk about how bad they think it would be to drive in Korea. I continually drive my motorcycle to get around from place to place. I find it for the most part relaxing and a fantastic way to experience Korea.

As my childhood barber stated about riding his motorcycle through the Rocky Mountains, “it changes your perspective on things; you get to see things in panoramic view.” I must say I totally agree with him now, especially after riding a motorcycle through the Korean mountains. I have seen the same mountainous views from the seat of a car, but on a motorcycle the same scene can be breathtaking. I don’t know how to explain it or why, but things just look better from the back of a motorcycle.

My longest ride to date was just over eight hours. I rode my 250 cc (cubic centimeters; this is the size of the engine) Hyosung Mirage motorcycle from Gyeongju to my new home just southeast of Cheonan. Some of the scenery I was able to take in on that journey was just breathtaking. The only way I can describe it is that it was perfection and beauty. I have never felt that way in the back of a car looking out over the same mountains

This trip was longer than necessary, and if I would have been driving a car it would have taken me a significantly less amount of time because I could have used the interstate. A large part of the reason I had to take such a long ride is because, I had to take the scenic route due to Korean law. The law in Korea states that there should be no motorcycles on the freeway for their own safety. Granted, for my little 250 that would have been stressful, but for the much bigger motorcycles we find in the United States that would have been an easy run.

However, in Korea, most motorcycles are scooters that they commonly call motorbikes with the engine capacity being 125 cc’s or smaller. To put this in perspective, most American motorcycle enthusiast will start riding on a 650 cc motorcycle. This makes for a large difference in power and speed.

In all honesty, for the most part, Korean driving is similar to back in the United States. At certain points, however, they are definitely terrible at some things and do very stupid things, which are illegal. Korea doesn’t really have “rules of the road” so much as they have “suggestions of the road”.

When I say this, I know I need to explain further, and I plan to. For example, I, like many others, have been waiting at a red light late at night with no other traffic coming. A person can easily see that no traffic is coming; maybe you want to just slowly cross the road when no one is looking. In Korea, they will cross or in some instances not even slow down at a red light. Another popular complaint is that people don’t use turn signals when making lane changes. This is true as well, but people in my family don’t use their turn signals religiously either.

The Bad: many people do not follow the rules of the road.

Image Credit: S.K Photography /

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