South Korea - The Oppo Edition

In brief: Koreans love their big sedans, and they keep it Korean, so Hyundai and Kia rule there, along with their spinoff “brands” like Genesis and Equus. Those upmarket names are treated as brands and thus you don’t see any Hyundai badging on Genesis/Equus, and they all have their own model designations; this is unlike North America where we get a Genesis and an Equus.

My uncle recently bought a K9 (the K900 in North America) and I gotta say it’s pretty damn nice. I don’t really have a basis for comparison since I’ve never been a passenger in a premium-brand large sedan like those from German or Japanese marques, but it was pretty damn comfortable. I can’t imagine buying a new K900/Genesis/Equus in North America since depreciation on Korean cars is heavy, but it would definitely be something I’d consider as a used purchase simply due to value for your dollar.

As a lover of small cars, I did like the Kia Ray, of which there were many:


It’s small, and the boxy shape is reminiscent of the Nissan Cube; it looks like a Kia Soul which had all its angles taken away. Seoul is a traffic congestion nightmare, and the parking situation is dire, so something like this would be very practical in that sense.

In Seoul, where image is important, you see a lot of black, full-size sedans like the Azera and Cadenza (respectively known as the Grandeur and K7 in NA) while the rich drive equally black MB S-Classes.

Cars, for the most part, are very bland with the variations being model number designations and which part of the grayscale the buyer likes the most.

However, once you get to richer parts like Yeouido and Gangnam, you start to see more interesting things:


For those with a keen eye, that is also a Maybach in the background; yes, these are street-parked. Parking is at a premium and is a HUGE problem in Seoul as a lot of older apartments weren’t designed with adequate underground parking, if at all.


I didn’t see too many flashy cars: I saw a yellow Ferrari 360 with a tricolore stripe; a new Ferrari California, and an Aventador which had all the angles accented with white stripes while the rest of the car was black. I only spotted these because of their boisterous engine notes.

All that said, driving in Seoul is really unfortunate: congestion is a nightmare and driving etiquette is pretty much non-existent. You’re much better off using the subway system where possible, since the buses are subject to the same awful congestion except from the roads where they do have their own dedicated lanes.


For the true driver, the best place to go is located at the south of the country. Our family had gone to a maritime city called Geoje (pronounced like guh-jeh) and the mountain roads there were much like what you see in Initial D: lots of curvy roads, tight corners, and elevation changes where an agile, small car would be an absolute dream to drive (a Lotus would be at home here). Although there is still a little bit of traffic to deal with, there’s no congestion: the moments where you’d find open road would be any driver’s dream.

If you guys have any questions (car related or not) I’d be happy to try and answer them if I haven’t dozed off while trying to adjust to this time difference. I’ll leave you with one of the panoramas I shot while in Geoje:

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