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yukw77792 karma

Which was more fun, being in James Bond or Star Wars?

yukw77783 karma

probably shouldn't put your email out like this.

yukw77722 karma

As a South Korean (I grew up there but live in the US now, Korean is my native language), 2 is simply not true. North Koreans still speak Korean and they still use "specific terms and linguistic forms" to address someone older or younger. They may have simplified a lot of titles to "동무" (comrade) (I think you may have misunderstood this point as North Koreans not having any honorific form of speech), but they still use "specific terms and linguistic forms."

yukw77711 karma

I guess the South Korean pride in me is leaking out again, but here it goes:

Yes, sometimes the nationalistic pride South Korean people have is "irksome" as you described. Even South Koreans are aware of this and it always sparks heated debates among them also. However, I believe we need to try to understand the root of the "irksome" pride, rather than dismissing it as some sort of backward nationalism that can only be found in developing countries.

As you mentioned in one of your comments, Korea's history is a very "sad" one. As a nation in a peninsula, it has constantly been surrounded by powerful nations that have tried to dominate Far East Asia. In order to preserve its national identity, Korea naturally has gravitated toward a strong, and sometimes extreme, nationalism. This has helped to protect the national identity, and without it, Korea would have been just another region in China or Japan.

Korean nationalism has become even stronger after the Japanese occupation during which the Japanese imperial government quite literally tried to eradicate Korean culture and identity. After WWII, in order to correct the colonial history forced upon by Japan, Korea decided to swing the opposite way and started to promote a Korean history with nationalistic fervor. Many say this is quite similar to the nationalism that can be found in many nations of the Balkan peninsula, which has had a similar history of a series of invasions by other powerful countries.

Now on to your point of personal hygiene. As you are probably aware, every culture has a different idea of what is proper personal hygiene, and it is true that some cultures have a weaker sense of personal hygiene than others, even objectively, but it is quite arrogant to dismiss a culture as inferior as you did when you "refuse to visit China again for this very reason." As a person who grew up in Seoul and is currently living in NYC, I actually find the hygiene situation in NYC worse than that of Seoul. I wonder how a New Yorker would feel if I said, "I refuse to visit NYC because of their dreadfully unhygienic subway stations."

Let's try to dig in deeper into why some Koreans have "bad" personal hygiene according to the Western standard. As you described, it is usually the "middle aged men hacking and spitting all the time," and this is part of a large problem experienced by a number of countries with fast-growing economies: the generation gap. These "unhygienic" middle aged South Korean men and women either lived through the awful Japanese occupation and the Korean War or were born during the antebellum devastation. They grew up in a country with $64 per capita income and watched it grow to become the 12th biggest economy in the world in 60 years. Unfortunately, due to the fast economic growth, some of the aspects of their lives, including personal hygiene, lagged behind at the post-war level. However, for the people who have been born after the 70's, it is a totally different story as they never really experienced the extreme poverty of their parents' generation. This new generation of Koreans has a more "Westernized" culture with a number of aspects a typical Westerner would expect including the modern sense of personal hygiene.

You mentioned in the article you wrote that you decided to give South Korea a try for a few years, because you had "an open mind," and it is truly tragic that you now have closed your mind mainly due to the bad experience you had with your employer. I sincerely hope in the future you will have more positive experiences abroad, including South Korea, so that you can open up your mind to the world again. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you, and other interested Reditors such as /u/AndyKSul, read this book by a respected correspondent to Korea from the Economist: http://www.amazon.com/Korea-Impossible-Country-Daniel-Tudor/dp/0804842523. This is one of the best books I have read on Korea, and it accurately explains how modern South Korea became a country as it is today. I believe this book will help you clean up many of the misconceptions you have about Korea.

Thank you, and sorry for the long post.

yukw7772 karma

They know it's 2014, they just have another system as /u/Doades mentioned. Did you know Japan does a similar thing?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_era_name