4.25.2011

There are certain annoying blanket statements people make about Korea that are frustrating and ignorant, but what are some general things you feel comfortable saying?

That Seoulites are some of the most fashionable people in the world. That Koreans really are the Irish of the East. That Korean students are insane about candy.

I mean. Obviously there are some things that tend to apply to the culture as a whole. One thing I've noticed that really seems to permeate Korean culture is the concern for other people. And anyone who's been here for three months reading nothing but Dave's ESL is going to bust a gut at that, I know. Because all you see is pushing and shoving on the subway and the refusal to wait in line. All you are seeing at that point is basically the surface level of interaction with strangers.

But what I see is different. When I interact with Koreans on a daily basis in all kinds of intimate situations, I do notice that they prioritize the way that their actions and words will make other people feel. And they are generally very, very careful.

It's not blanket statements that I mind. It's blanket statements that are wrong, short-sighted, or just plain easy. Such as the one posed below.

Ask me anything

2 comments:

gwern said...

> That Korean students are insane about candy.

Actually, I think I've missed that one completely. So what's the truth with that stereotype?

Joe in Korea said...

So true about the difference between how Koreans tend to interact with strangers and with people they know. There is also a difference between the inner circle of close friends and family, and the outer circle of co-workers and not-so-intimate friends.

Since most expats are only familiar with interactions with strangers or with the outer circle, they have no idea how people really do take concern for others' feelings into consideration.

There really is a blind spot for strangers. It is like they don't exist in the Confucian hierarchy, so they don't exist in reality.