Excuse the title…I have a strong desire to bust out that song in a noraebang, but they don’t have it. Come on, Korea. Get it together.
Anyways, so, the point of this blog post. The culture of respect in Korea is so much different than anything you’ll ever encounter in North America. It’s even implanted in the language. List time! Woot! I love lists!
- The Language: There are levels of formality in the Korean language that you use based on age, position, and closeness to another person. The way you talk to a child is never how you would talk to a grandparent. Depending on the grammar structure you use, you can greatly offend somebody in the Korean language, in which case, you always have to be careful. I experienced this during my time living with a home stay family in Jeonju. I had a grandma as a part of my family, and sometimes I just wouldn’t talk to her because I was worried that I would offend her with my poor Korean.
- Bow-wow: Ok, that was lame. I just want to talk about bowing. Bowing is like hand-shaking, here. You don’t go down on your knees or whatever, just a quick little half bow for normal social situations. Sometimes, I’ve noticed that people do multiple little bows if saying hello or goodbye or thanking someone, for example. However, I’ve noticed that if you’re apologizing to someone, you do a full half-bow and stay down there for awhile. And when you go to a Buddhist temple, you do a whole different kind of bow in which you put your hands together and put them in the middle of you abdomen and do a little bow like that.
- Talking back: Just don’t do it. Please. Especially if someone is older than you. Apparently, Korean Air used to be one of the worst airlines in the world; they’d have crashes and everything. This is because the people working flights felt that they couldn’t tell the pilots what to do due to matters of respect and the formality built into the Korean language. This eventually was resolved and Korean Air is one of the best airlines in the world.
- Politeness: It’s on a whole other level here. I’ve never received better customer service here than anywhere else. They go out of their way to make sure the customer is happy, always have cute little smiles on their faces, and have the most adorable little voices! I love it.
I know there’s more, but it’ll probably show up in a later post.
In other news, I’m on the lookout for an American Thanksgiving celebration here. Wish me luck. Turkey calls my name.
Love and peace,