Of course, in an ideal world, there would be just one country, a combination of the two called “Japorea” or “Korpan”. There is so much these great countries have in common. They have similar environments and climate. They like similar music and films. Let’s put it to the test.
Japansese is a beautiful language to listen to but very difficult to read and write. On the other hand, the Korean alphabet Hanguel is very easy to read and write and is phonetic too. Korean is a very difficult language to learn but there are many opportunities to speak it because Koreans travel so much.
Would you rather have sushi or Kimbab? Most Korean dishes can be done in a similar style by Japanese restaurants. Most of Japanese cuisine looks incredibly beautiful ob the plate whereas Korean has a tendency to be served in a straightforward, unpretentious way. Apart from seafood and rice, the patisserie in Japan is second to none. Therefore, Japan has this one.
South Korea has the world’s number one liquor, Soju. At only an average of 20% alcohol, its light enough to be slammed in shot glasses and still packs a punch too. You can’t do the same with Sake. Japan has several delicious beers (Sapporo, Asahi) but Korea has makgeoli, a sweet, slightly sparkling wine that goes so well with fried chicken. It’s tough, but I think South Korea has a better selection of alcohol.
Winner: South Korea
Ozu, Mizocuhi, Kurosawa. These are some of the most famous Japanese directors that have made well-known films. I’m not going to mention more recent Japanese works, but think about Studio Ghibli. On the other hand, Korea made some great films between 2002-2005, but they haven’t been nearly as successful recently. Many Korean directors are now working with American studios or even for Netflix, with the example of Bong Joon-ho. Japan’s film industry is far-better established for Korea to compete.
K-pop has sold the image of Korea all around the world. Big Bang, Girls Generation and Super Junior sell out in China and Japan. When was the last time you heard of a Japanese pop group doing the same? PSY still has the most watched Youtube video of all time.
Winner: South Korea
Some of the world’s most beautiful of women come from Korea. Ordinary Korean women are super amazing too. Not only are they beautiful but they are very smart too. A further plus is that most young Korean women speak English. It’s not the same with Japanese women, who don’t travel as much outside their country. Personality-wise, Korean women tend to be very outgoing and confident. Contrast Japanese girls who are much shyer and prefer staying at home.
Advantage to Korea on this one.
Since Yukio Mishima won the Pullitzer prize, western readers have known about Japanese writers. Haruki Murakami has sold millions of books which have been translated into 5o languages. Japan’s thriller writers like Keigo Higashino enjoy huge success. Korean novels are only starting to be translated into English. Korean writer Han Kang recently won the Man Booker Prize for The Vegetarian. Literary accolades aside, it’s not a novel people are going to enjoy reading.
Japan can have this one.
Politics and History
Japan’s history dates back thousands of years. So does Korea’s, but less is known about it. Korea has had a very difficult past century of conflicts that weren’t its fault. Japan came out of the Second World War to become one of the world’s largest economies. Korea’s economic turnaround has been no less impressive. I can’t stop reading about Korea, on the other hand, I am also fascinated by the history of Japan.
Most people have watched at least one Korean drama. Truth is, they are really not something I can recommend. Japan’s dramas are not something I have watched but I’d like to think they are better than crappy TV series such as My Love from the Stars.
Visit to Japan and you can be entertained by a Geisha. Or visit a Buddhist temple. Perhaps a visit to a bath house, or a tea ceremony? Most visitors to Seoul go shopping, drink and eat and go to nightclubs in Seoul. There is probably a wider variety of cultural events in Japan.