SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz the World goes to… South Korea

Taekwondo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGIZTKUfcnI
Bibimbap recipe: https://www.recipetineats.com/bibimbap/#wprm-recipe-container-37012

Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting a country that has the highest density of robots in the world… where, when you take a photo, everyone says “kimchi”… and where tae kwon do was invented. Can you guess?

Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take off and take a squiz at South Korea …

Just the Facts
South Korea is on a peninsula of land that juts out from the East coast of China. Its only land border is with North Korea… and THAT relationship is the subject of about 1000 podcasts. In a nutshell, though, the two Koreas were once united. There was a war between them in the 1950s, which actually saw Australian soldiers fighting on the South’s side. The fighting ended almost 70 years ago, but there’s never been a peace treaty to officially end the war, and some people still hold out hope that they will one day be reunited.

Since that war, South Korea has become one of Asia’s most dynamic countries, with a booming economy. It has a population of 52 million people, almost twice as many as Australia, and about 10 million of them live in the capital, Seoul, one of the most modern cities on the planet.

South Korea also has one of the most successful education systems in the world, more robots per person than any other country, and a huge global following of bands like BTS  … in case you didn’t know, the K in K-pop stands for Korea.

Whenever you go somewhere, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

Learn the Lingo
In South Korea the official languages are Korean, and Korean sign language. Korean can be a bit complicated, because the grammar you use changes depending on the age of the person you’re talking to. So we are VERY lucky to have Squiz Kid Eunjo, who is 10, here to teach us the best way to say hello:


Go on, you give it a try! annyeonghaseyo

People are always really grateful when you just try to speak their language. They may even thank you for it. Hey, Eunjo, how do we say thank you?

And Kamsahamnida to you, too, Eunjo!

Now that we can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Time for School

Hands up if you love writing in gel pens, or experimenting with different colours? Well, if you’re at school in South Korea, you’d better be careful not to write your name in red!

Red ink signifies that a person is dead or dying.. and you wouldn’t want that.

You will need a lot of ink at a South Korean school, though. Those kids work HARD.

Kids start the school year in March, and end the next February. And yes, March does come right after February.

Summer and winter holidays exist, but there are optional half days of school at the beginning and end of each break, and the majority of Korean students attend then, too.

So is school in South Korea that much fun? Well, maybe… but the Korean school system is known all over the world for producing students who score very high marks, by doing lots and lots of tests. There’s even a special kind of school, known as Hagwon in Korean, which means “cram school”. And “cram” means to stuff as much as possible into your brain before a test… kids go to these schools after their regular school day to prepare for the tests. The South Korean government is realising that so much pressure and stress isn’t good for kids, and are starting to experiment with fewer tests, and restrictions on that Hagwon system.

Just like we do PE at school, and many of us do sport on the weekends, kids in South Korea are also active! Let’s learn what they do when it’s …

Sport Time

All over Australia, from Kununnurra to Kingston, you can find a taekwondo club to join. But did you know that this martial art, which is both an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport, is Korean?

In Korean, tae means “kicking,” kwon means “punching” or “fist” and do means “the art or way of”. So taekwondo means the art of kicking and punching.

You score points by kicking and punching your opponent in the head and torso, and the sport’s best pull of some pretty impressive head height kicks, jumping kicks, and spinning kicks… with the emphasis being on speed. I’ve popped a link in your episode notes to a brief explainer… and please, notice the helmets and protective padding!

Phew! After watching other people getting all that exercise, I’m starving! I think it might be…

Dinner Time
Have you ever heard of kimchi? It’s on the table at just about EVERY meal served in South Korea. It’s made from fermented, spiced and salted cabbage, and traditionally, every family would make it by placing the ingredients in a traditional clay jar, and leaving that jar underground during the winter. Of course, you can also just buy it at the shops.

Kimchi is so ubiquitous – which is an extremely fancy word meaning “common” – that when someone takes your photo in South Korea, instead of saying “cheese”, you’ll say “kimchi”. You say it.. you’ll see it produces a similar smile!

Now kimchi is a side dish, not a meal, so I’ve popped a recipe in your episode notes for the first Korean meal I ever ate, and it’s still one of my favourites. It’s called bi bim bap, and it’s a rice bowl with just the MOST delicious sauce…. mmmm…

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. What’s the name of the world famous boy band from South Korea?
Question 2. What colour should you avoid writing your name in when visiting South Korea?
Question 3. What is kimchi made from?