From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

Korea’s “Pali-pali” Culture and It’s Dynamism


One thing I love about Korea is the speedy food delivery, but yesterday I was disappointed after waiting for the 자장면 (jajangmyeon) and 탕수육 (tangsuyuk) we ordered for more than an hour!

We had to call the restaurant twice to ask why the delivery was taking so long. (The restaurant is just a few minutes away from our apartment.)  We were told that it was a busy day and they had only one person to make deliveries. My husband didn’t argue nor cancel the order, though he was hungry as a bungry, but my hyeongnim did. (You know how it is with women. ^^) I am not trying to make a big fuss about the incident, but that was the first time I have experienced a delay in Korea. That doesn’t usually happen here. In fact, this country is known for its “pali-pali” culture, not only in preparing and delivering food, but also in everyday life.

“Pali-pali” (빨리빨리) is a common Korean expression which means “Hurry up!” or “Faster!” When I came to Korea for the first time, that was the first thing that I heard from my friend’s mother every morning when she woke me up for breakfast, and I thought it was just a phrase she used to wake me up. ^^ No one explained to me exactly what “pali-pali” means until I came back to Korea as a wife. My Omonim (mother-in-law) uses it a lot every time we work together in the kitchen. My husband, who normally speaks to me in English, says it, too, when we are getting late for an appointment and I’m still putting on make up as if I have all the time in the world to do that.

KTX (Korea Train Express)

“Pali-pali” is every Korean’s way of life. You can see people here running or walking in haste, so that they won’t miss the bus or the train. Even women in high-heeled shoes take part in the marathon! On the other hand, buses and trains come frequently, and the commute is fast and very convenient.

At work, Koreans always arrive on time or sometimes even earlier. There is no dilly-dallying when you go to the bank or a government office. The service is so systematic that you don’t have to wait or stand in a queue for a long time.

Incheon International Airport: One of the world’s best airports for four consecutive years

“Pali-pali” culture can also be seen in Korea’s infrastructure development. There is always something new.  The other night, just as we were coming home from Seoul, I noticed a new Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shop in our area. I pass by that street everyday when I go to work, and I remember that it was Crown Bakery two weeks ago. Change is truly “inevitable” here… and it happens in a jiffy. When we came back from our 15-day vacation in the Philippines, my husband and I were surprised to see one of the roads we usually drive on going to Guri city reconstructed, and now there’s another road construction somewhere near the place. (I wish we could do the same thing in my country. Road constructions in the Philippines usually take longer to finish.)

A bendable phone? Samsung’s newest project for 2012.

Korea’s remarkable technological advancement is also very evident with major corporations such as Samsung and LG. Seoul is ranked as the world’s “leading digital city” and the “tech capital of the world”. The country has become a global leader in electronics, digital displays and mobile phones.

A few decades ago, Korea was a poverty-stricken country marred by war and political chaos, but over the past 50 years, it has metamorphosed into the third largest economy in Asia and the 13th largest economy in the world. What made this economic success possible? The country’s “pali-pali” culture” and Korean people‘s ardent patriotism and perseverance are just some of the many reasons.

If you want to know more about how South Korea became one of the world’s most progressive countries, you can read about the “Miracle of Han River”. It is a very inspiring story.

Also, the video below will tell you briefly of South Korea’s “humble beginnings” and its “dynamic rise”. As I was watching this video, I was thinking of my homeland, the Philippines. If the impossible was made possible by the Koreans, can’t we Filipinos do the same for our country?

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29 thoughts on “Korea’s “Pali-pali” Culture and It’s Dynamism

  1. I hope the people of my country learn from Korean (:


  2. Pingback: Pali pali culture- best known hot tempered Korean’s action | Real daily life in Korea

  3. Pingback: Why Korea? And why now? | Digital Stories

  4. I am pleased that you found this article useful. Good luck on that assignment, Liz. ^^


  5. Great article!! I´m doing an assignment about South Korea and this is just great!!


  6. Pingback: Do you know the Korea “Coffee mix”? | Real daily life in Korea

  7. Hi, Somyung. ^^ Feel free to use my article/s, but please don’t forget to mention FROM KOREA WITH LOVE. ^^


  8. Hi I like your article and contents:) I’m writing about Korea and would like to share this in my blog. My blog is introducing about life in Korea, Korea culture…etc. Would it be ok for you?


  9. pali = kemon.. im always watch korean drama


  10. Pingback: Cancer, Meet My God! | From Korea with Love

  11. Thank you!! I certainly will!


  12. Hi, Melissa. Sure, you may use the info from my article, but please don’t forget to mention the source. ^^♡


  13. Is it ok if I used a part of this post for an online training I’m creating for my employer? The topic is Korean Culture and the way you describe your experience learning about bpalli bpalli is great! I think our students would really benefit.


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  17. I write too much as well. =) I think it’s all right to write a lengthy post as long as it’s meaningful to the readers. ^^ Spring is coming. I hope to read and see more pics of Sakura Festival in Japan. Here in Korea, we have that, too. =)


  18. Oops, somehow, I ended being “anonymous” …


  19. Thanks! I tend to write too much and make readers exhausted@_@ Hope it was not too tiring for you !


  20. Oops, I must have missed the link to the English side at the top of the page. =) Anyway, I was able to visit your page, and wow… you must have done quite a research. I’m pretty interested in Japanese culture, too. I have had a few Japanese students in my ESL classes, and I just love their Japanese fashion. ^^


  21. Does “tukusigal” sound like a man? That’s OK. Does not matter!

    My blogs are bilingual. There is the link to the English side at the top of the page. I made the link in bigger and bold font so it will stand out more. If you click that, you will be taken to the English side. I actually have two blogs – one about Michigan (Great Lakes area) and the other about Kyushu, southern Japan, :)


  22. My husband also gets annoyed with my being slow as a turtle. ^^


  23. Oops! Sorry… “Tukusigal” sounds like a man’s name, or maybe I just don’t know anything about Japanese terms. =)

    Most of the time, I get lazy to study Korean Language, too. ^^

    BTW, I checked your page ang it’s in Japanese. Whoah! How I wish I could read Japanese. =)


  24. Photo of bendable phone…wow! Can’t do pali-pali, although you mastered it and that is really amazing.

    Grew up and live in Southern US and many of us here are so slow and make so many people annoyed with us!


  25. Thank you! Our son is very lucky! By the way, I will be the mother-in-law. The future father-in-law (my husband) is too lazy to learn Korean lessons (he says he is too busy).


  26. Your daughter-in-law is very fortunate to have a father-in-law who is willing to learn her language and more about her country and culture. In SK, foreign husbands and wives are usually the ones learning Korean Language, so that they can communicate well with their in-laws.

    Don’t worry about your son marrying a Korean. Korean women are good housewives. =)


  27. Hi, I live in the U.S. One of my sons is marrying a Korean lady from Korea soon. So, I am re-taking Korean lessons to be able to say simple things to her parents at the wedding! I am actually from Fukuoka, Japan. Actually I was interested in Korean language long time ago and took a Korean class before 1988 Olympics (when I still lived in Japan). I never imagined one of my kids would marry a Korean. I will be able to learn a lot about Korea from your blog. Looking forward to reading your more posts!


  28. Thank you, Tukusigal. ^^ Do you live in SK? Have you gotten used to the “pali-pali” culture here?


  29. I am taking Korean lessons and my teacher taught me Pali Pali in the first session. Thanks for the very interesting post!


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