Apparently, according to a new Lonely Planet reader poll, Seoul, South Korea has been given the dubious distinction of being the 3rd Worst City in the World to live in! I thought this was particularly interesting since I lived in downtown Seoul (3 locations) between 2004-2006.
One quote from the Lonely Planet poll of the worst cities to live in described Seoul:
It’s an appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it. So oppressively bland that the populace is driven to alcoholism.’
Now, I have to admit, that I did indeed have a few bad experiences while living in Seoul. I once was hired by an illegal private school. They claimed to be above the board and seemed so, but when immigration started sniffing around, I had a bad feeling and quit. I also had a few run ins with some rather unsavory drunk men. For the most part though, my time in Seoul was rather enjoyable. The night life was great and I made a lot of wonderful friends there.
Eventually though, due to a company transfer and general claustrophobia, I opted to move to South Korea's second largest and much smaller city, Busan. Busan was far more relaxed and friendly. Like Seoul (or any other Korean city), it didn't particulalry look nice, but I liked it.
Does Seoul deserved to be dubbed "The 3rd Worst City in the World"? Probably not, but I think Korean people and the government should take notice. Poor treatment of English teachers and discriminatory attitudes and legislation towards non-Koreans living in Korea is coming back to bite them in the ass. This is now a world where English teachers who are ripped off by crooked private school owners or mistreated by drunken men on the street can quickly spread their opinions via You Tube, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I suppose those in power in Korea need to start thinking more about foreigners who come to live and work in Korea. They should be extending more of an olive branch as opposed to marginalizing them!
I don't think Seoul is that bad of a city, but many (and I mean many) teachers who leave Korea, leave with a huge chip on their shoulder. The city doesn't deserve this sort of rating, but I am not surprised that it got it!