Okay, now I live in korea

Trip Start Oct 24, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , North Gyeongsang,
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I live on the 16th floor of an apartment
building in Gyeongsan, South Korea. Until yesterday, I’d never lived above the
third floor. Way up here the wind screams incessantly and beats against the
convex wall of windows on my balcony. I moved in during the onset of a typhoon,
and that was only yesterday morning, so maybe it is too early to judge the wind’s
personality up this high. The wind raged all day today. Hopefully it is moving
on tonight to somewhere else.

Before this, I lived in Germany. Germans are good people –
kind of keep to themselves, I observed. Then again, maybe I was keeping to
myself, too. I haven’t been in Korea long enough to tell you what Koreans are
like. So far they seem pretty friendly and proud of their country. I can tell
you that Germans and Koreans have at least one thing in common – they love
recycling. I remember being introduced to how the Germans recycle in the state
of Rheinland-Pfalz. The government lays a bundle of color-coded bags at your
doorstep every so often. Each color is for a different material: blue for papers,
yellow for metals and plastics, and clear bags for glass. If you put too many
recyclables in your trash, the trash collectors fuss at you and tell you they
can stop picking up your garbage. I remember they fussed at me once. I learned
today that Koreans have a different way of organizing their recycling. They’re
even fussier.

This afternoon I had a small bag of trash to throw out,
but I didn’t know where to do it properly. It was my first bit of refuse here
in Korea, and I didn’t want to cause a mess by dumping it off the balcony. I
respect other cultures. So, I took the elevator to the second floor to ask my
French Canadian neighbor where the dumpster was. He leaned slightly over my
little bag of garbage, cocked an eyebrow, and asked, “Is that your trash?” “Yeah, well,” I replied, “I don’t know where the
recycling is either.” Then he proceeded to tell me some surprising rules that
Koreans have about recycling. He ended with, “The bins are out front. Just turn
right out the door.” So I did.

Outside my building there are five or six different sized
bins for recyclables. Some don’t open, so I don’t know what goes in those.
Others are just full of pink bags, so I don’t know what goes in those either.
And every receptacle is covered in Korean script, so that doesn’t help me much,
either. There are two cans that are one-quarter full of old food, compost bins
I suppose. I understand that the food must be dried before it can be composted,
and that there are even devices you can buy to dry your refuse food faster. I’m
not doing that. My food’s going to go in as-is.  You still have to use special bags, too, like
in Germany, but you have to buy them yourself at a grocery store. They’re color
coded, but by region, not by materials. My region has pink bags. If you get
caught not recycling to their standard, guess what… you get fussed at. 
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Brenda Poss on

It seems to be a worldwide phenomenon that all over the world people pride themselves in making good things difficult to endorse. Hope you figure out the system. It makes for good reading for us back home!

Cindy Warner on

Are the bags plastic???

byron_and_tracy on

The bags are plastic. And I do endorse the Germany way of recycling as well as the Korean way of taking care of Mother Earth. My goal was to paint a picture of one of the many little, often frustrating or temporarily irksome details of daily life in a new culture.

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