Early that morning everyone was set for the trip to the Korean Cultural Centre. I was excited because I would get to wear the Korean Traditional attire alongside learning the rich Korean Culture.
History has shown a huge influence of Confucianism in the DNA of Korea’s history. This is seen today when an older, richer or more important person than you or sometimes a male as opposed to female is simply better and deserving more respect. I was personally shocked when meeting a stranger the first questions of introduction would not miss an inquiry about my age. Age inquiry is something not often asked but Korean culture demands this so as to categorize the manner in which you will address the other person. Generally a short bow and head directed downwards will do fine but according to Korean customs, a full 90-degree bow would be appropriate for those of very high positions or older than you. In addition to this honorific language is used.
However foreigners might see Koreans as disrespectful as nobody is going to thank you for holding a door open and unlikely to apologize for bumping into you especially on the subway. Koreans have a broad range of things that people consider rude but still do it. This includes blowing of nose while eating. While using chopsticks, it is disrespectful to use them to point to things,picking teeth or even spearing food. It is proper to wait for the head of the table i.e the one who is paying to sit down before proceeding.
Koreans have become a highly appearance focused society, that plastic surgery and body care has become the latest boom. The East Asian concept of “face” is very important and known as gibun; the main goal is to avoid embarrassment of self and others.
Dressing has been long important, though these days the dress code has followed the footsteps of KPop and world fashion culture.
The most that I have enjoyed or rather learnt about the culture is respect of other people’s belongings. No one will touch something that is not theirs, not a single day have I heard of a theft case. One can forget their wallet in the bus, recover it after a week or a month with all their money still. To my surprise I am sure yours too, it is a crime to pick money on the street that is not yours. One can face a jail sentence if caught.
There’s always something new to learn with the break of dawn.