Sunday, August 12, 2012

Korean Stereotypes

I'd like to go over some Korean stereotypes that a lot of people have about this country and that I personally had before I came here. Some are true, and some are just blatantly wrong.

1) Koreans are short: This is not true. In fact, finding a male Korean my age that's shorter than me is pretty rare. It's more common than in the US, but still rare nonetheless. Even my middle school students are taller than me most of the time!

2) All koreans get plastic surgery: This isn't true either. While there is a much higher number than in the US, a lot of koreans feel the same way we do about it. The biggest surgery is eyelid surgery. A lot of misconceptions out there is that if you have double eyelids (a fold above your eye) then you've had surgery. This isn't true, there are actually a lot of Koreans born that way.

3) Koreans will ask how old you are: This one is TRUE. Everyone will ask your age. It's not impolite here. They simply do it to figure out how they should address you. If you are older than them, they will show you more respect. If you are younger, they will take care of you.

4) Koreans love kimchi: Koreans grow up eating kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), but like everywhere else in the world, they have picky eaters too. It may be a national staple, but not everyone loves kimchi.

5) Korea is a 3rd world country... this one makes me laugh. This one I hear a lot from people who don't know anything about the world. Korea is far from a 3rd world country... When I was going to move here, a lot of people asked how I could go to such a country... when they didn't realize that Korea is more technologically advanced than us...

6) All Koreans like martial arts: Asians in general are thought of the types to learn martial arts growing up. Though it's true that some do, there are equally the same amount of people learning to play guitar, or play basketball, or any other recreation.

7) They eat dogs: It is possible to find a restaurant that serves dog in Korea, BUT it's not common. I've been to one of the restaurants before, and it was in some back alley and was rather creepy. I couldn't eat the dog, but my friends enjoyed it. I've met a lot of Koreans that refuse to eat dog, even though those dogs are raised specifically for eating.

8) They work too much: It's true that Koreans work longer hours. They arrive early and stay overtime sometimes until as late as 9pm. However, in Korea the worth ethic is to be available, not necessarily to work your hardest. So, while they are there that long, a lot of the time they are playing on cell phones, napping or watching dramas on their computers.

9) Terrible Drivers: it's the opposite actually. Koreans are amazing drivers. We misconceive it as terrible but the fact is that when you have so many people packed into a small area, you learn to be able to zoom around any car no matter how small the gap. It's utterly terrifying how fast they go, but I've never once seen or heard of a car wreck from anyone I know. In the US, I hear about friends car wrecks all the time. Korea also has these cool weird blue stickers they put on their cars to prevent damage... and they have special sensors in them.

10) Korea students are well behaved: No, just no. My students scream and run outside of the classroom, throwing water at each other... They fight, they gossip, they are kids.


Anonymous said...

Korea is 3rd world country:
It's important to note that the terms1st and 2nd world country were used during the cold war to describe the two opposing blocs (democratic and communist)
3rd world countries simply referred to countries that refused to take either side (India with its nonalignment movement)

Thus, South Korea has always been a 1st world country, and that technically made North Korea a 2nd country.

Now if you are talking about "developing country" Then yes. Korea is considered "developing". I don't know the criteria for "developed" status but if you want to know about a country and it's present way of life, its best to go there yourself!

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