Are some South Koreans xenophobic?
June 29, 2018
Other countries other manners. What is everyday life in Korea would cause head shaking in Germany. And vice versa. I was also surprised at first by many Korean customs. So that you don’t make a mistake, I have put together the funniest and most amazing curiosities in the country for you.
Curiosities from everyday Korean life
- The snot and spitting: Probably the most important point, because it happens anywhere, anytime. Not to be confused with spitting out saliva, as we know it from uncouth adolescents at the bus stop in Germany. The unusable content is sucked up out of the throat with great noise and spit everywhere: on the street, in the garbage can, in the toilet (even if signs in the university expressly forbid this). We Germans may find this repulsive. But the other way around, Koreans consider foreigners to be uncultivated who blow their noses right at the table. The best thing to do is to go to the toilet!
- Customer service is the be-all and end-all: You mean it well, but you still regularly chase me away. Customer service is very important in Korea. This leads to the fact that when you go shopping you are loudly asked to look at the latest products in front of the store. But even in business you don't have a moment's rest. The salespeople literally follow the customer at every turn. New T-shirts are offered every few meters and the examined items of clothing are folded again immediately after they are returned. I just couldn't get used to this courteous behavior.
- Free space in the subway:There are two aspects here that I first had to get used to. The crowds at rush hour and the distance to strangers in the empty train. If you don't like physical contact, you should avoid taking the subway at rush hour. In Seoul, the wagons are pretty full at the end of the day. To get to the door, you need to extend your elbows and push them neatly. But if you get bumped into it, you shouldn't hope for an excuse. But don't panic: over time you get used to the crowd. I no longer expect a "sorry" from the pedestrians rushing by. When it gets empty in the evening, the Koreans show a different side. If there are vacancies, they will often and happily sit away from you. If you sit next to someone on the bus in Germany, it isyour Stranger. You do not sit down from the other passenger, even if other seats become free. You don't mean to suggest that you feel uncomfortable. It doesn't seem impolite for Koreans to sit down. I had to learn that first.
- Follow the trend:After a few months, I gave up wanting to be part of it. In Korea, the youth follow every trend. In winter everyone wore the same long, dark gray coat. When applying makeup, the women had apparently reached into a palette of colors: orange-brown eye shadow and red lipstick. Almost none of them were out on the subway in the morning without the obligatory curlers in their pony. The fact that Koreans are so stylish is both a blessing and a curse. Because Seoul is a cosmetics and clothing paradise for men and women. But if you don't follow the trend, you're visually the outsider.
- Continuous sound: In a city with a population of over a million people naturally expect it to be louder than in the country. But in Seoul, the noise level is increased again. I had already seen that the shops on the shopping streets attract potential visitors with the latest Korean music. But also in all other places there are acoustic signals and PA systems that I did not expect. Basically, everything speaks to you, be it the subway, the ticket machine, the elevator, the escalator or the ATM. At home, the apartment door will cheerfully ring you as soon as you open it. Even the washing machine chimes for twenty seconds when it's finished.
- Motorcycles everywhere: Unlike in India or Thailand, the traffic regulations in Seoul are extremely strict. Compared to Germany, however, it is very mild. Drivers who want to quickly turn the corner like to ignore the red light. In general, pedestrians have to be considerate of the cars. But if you wait politely on the side of the road, you won't let a car over. The motorcycles go one step further. In principle, red lights do not apply to them. If there is a traffic jam, they use the sidewalk as an additional lane. You should therefore play it safe when leaving a café. Make sure that no motorcycle comes towards you on the sidewalk!
- JONAS! Finally, a little fun fact that I haven't figured out until today. Almost every Korean I've written with wrote to me by name at the beginning of the conversation. At first I got ready for some dramatic news or lecture. But then I got used to the fact that many conversations are preceded by the names of those addressed. I still don't understand the point. It should actually be clear who is meant by the message. 😀
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