Last Saturday, I had the unique and fortunate experience of attending a Korean game show. The 2nd Quiz on Korea was great entertainment and, well, about as quirky as all things Korea can get.
Contestants were foreigners from all around the world with at least a basic command of Korean. They were asked a series of multiple choice questions, and if they got an answer wrong, they were out for a round. The last man standing over the course of three rounds went through to the final round. Here, there were no options, only questions. First person to get three answers right, won a car.
I quite enjoyed that for each question, a wee bit of background info was given, perhaps one or two facts. I can’t recall a single thing right now, but I remember thinking that a lot of it was interesting.
What made me frown, though, was the claim that those little instant coffee sachets, with the creamer and sugar already in there, were invented in Korea. I brushed it off as wishful thinking, and then I took to the googlez (as one does for just about anything nowadays).
And wouldn’t you know it, it seems that good ol’ 커피 믹스 (keopi migseu – Konglish for “coffee mix”) was indeed invented in Korea in the 70s. Coffee mix is very popular here, and there are several brands available. I should have known it’s a national pride issue. Although none of my friends like coffee mix, I’m quite the fan (I did a post on it last year), and when I visited South Africa over summer vacation, I got my mom hooked, too.
Turns out that we can thank Korea for quite a bit more than just coffee sachets. The most comprehensive list can be found (where else but) at Wikipedia.
If you’d like to read the full article, here it is.
Here are a few interesting ones that stood out to me:
Global brands Samsung, LG, Kia, Hyundai, Daewoo and Hankook Tyres all started in Korea.
BB Cream ~ well, technically. It was developed in Germany in the 60s, but took off on the global market after being introduced to Korea and Japan in 1985. After some celebrity endorsements it took off in the rest of Asia, and the West caught on in 2012.
Underfloor heating ~ We all know heat rises, so a wall-mounted air-conditioner isn’t the ideal weapon for temperatures that shouldn’t even be legal. The Koreans were the first to were the first to implement ondol heating.
- portable MP3 players
- MP3 phones
- touchscreen cellphones
- LTE-enabled cellphones
- Retina display (the technology used by Apple)
- Coloring Ring back tone ~ you know how when you phone someone, instead of the normal ring-ring you sometimes here a sample of a song? That’s the one!
Other technology ~
- contactless smart transport cards (swipe cards for the subway and buses)
- Digital Mobile TV, which is made possible through…
- Digital Media Broadcasting
- WiBro (Wireless Broadband), a Korean-developed Mobile WiMAX system
- Samsung provided the world’s first LTE service in Stockholm
- If you ever find yourself at Seoulleung Station in Seoul, check out the world’s first virtual store, which lets consumers do their shopping using a smartphone app from the subway station, for delivery at their homes.
Internet-related stuff ~
- Internet cafés
- LAN gaming centres (PC Bang)
- Question-and-answer sites (which Yahoo! Answers is modelled after)
Other interesting things ~
- A specific (and really nifty) method of finger counting, called chisanbop
- Thundersticks (those plastic tubes used at sporting events to make loud clapping noises)