Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Far-From-Ugly Part One: Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

My Korean seat neighbour described two blogs ago turned out to be an accurate representative of most Koreans I would encounter during my time in Busan. I'm going to go ahead and expect a slew of comments from upset readers berating me for making generalisations, so let me just go ahead and address that now. These are just opinions based on my observations. I know that people from every country are all unique and have their positive and negative personality traits. However, as an outsider, there were things I observed. My observations based on a short period of time, good and bad, are all that this blog details. So, everybody chill in advance.

Because it's just a blog

I initially wrote all of my observations in one long blog, but I know how short attention spans are these days, so I have turned it into a multiple-blog series. Enjoy.

Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

As I previously mentioned, living amongst the Japanese for months has likely tainted my perspective on how people should act. Japanese people are some of the genuinely kindest I have ever met. They rarely have ulterior motives driving their actions and will go out of their way to help anyone at all, even someone they barely know. Greetings are of utmost importance in Japanese culture as well as cleanliness and politeness. Had I travelled from New York to Busan, I may not have noticed a thing.

However, I was traveling from Japan to Busan. So imagine how I felt the first time I heard a Korean man hacking up a spit wad right there in the metro station. Shocked would describe it pretty well, though the more it happened the less it surprised me.

Also, in Japan people generally walk in a direct path to their destination in the train station. If they divert from said path and bump into you, they are quick to apologise. I know at least three ways to apologise in Japanese because of this. In Korea, people often walked directly into me and didn't even hesitate. No "excuse me" or "I'm sorry." Sometimes, it even seemed like they were INTENTIONALLY trying to run into me. For example, when I would walk down a practically empty hall and someone was walking the opposite direction, they still found a way to bump into me. How!? Why?!

Also, the staring. In India, people ogled me like I was a bearded lady in a freak show and didn't even try to pretend they weren't staring. Even when I returned their gaze they kept starting. Koreans weren't as bad, but some still stared at me to the point I felt very uncomfortable. That is another thing that I never experience in Japan.

Finally, the train situation. In Japan, people line up alongside the doors when the train arrives and wait for the passengers to get off before they file in. In Korea, forget it. The method there was "barge right in as soon as the doors open and don't wait for anyone to get off first."

When push comes to shove, Korea is a dog-eat-dog world. 

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