Sunday, July 27, 2008

American Society vs Korean Society (American Society)

I just recently received some comments that I found interesting, so I figured I'd write about it. (thanks Giraffe, I honestly appreciate your insite on this matter)

It was brought to my attention that some of my posts make it sound like I want to be fully immersed in Korean Life. So I thought this would be a good topic to write about. I don't have the experience of living in Korea for an extended period of time, but I have visited Korea for 13 weeks in the last year. I guess that gives me a little bit of an insight into the matter, however I still appreciate that its still a limited insight.

Here is a quick list of what I like about both societies in comparison to each other:
American Society:
1. Not so "pushy"...have you ever been in a waiting line in Korea???It doesnt
2. Traffic - LA has nothing on Seoul
3. University System - Education wise the US system is the best in the world, cost wise its the
4. shopping - things are so cheap in the US, and the US has much wider selection
5. By far less crowded
6. Openess to outsiders - I say this with tongue in cheek and as a generalization. I think American Society is more tolerant of differences in people (kind of has to be being that its a melting pot of cultures), however I think Koreans are by far more friendly to strangers (ie, if your walking around with white parents they will stop to help you, if its just me they won't).

Korean Society:
1. Definitely the food.
2. Music. It is much more innocent and PG rated. I know some peopel would say naive, but is it really that bad? Is the alternative (ie. hip hop today with scantily clad models, or rapping about killing or pimps or sex) better? I feel the bubble gum pop of Korea pop-culture wins.
3. Television - Similar to music. American TV is often trashy (ie desperate housewives) while on Korean television a scandel is if a couple kiss...again, another area where being a little naive isnt a bad thing.
4. The way religious freedom is handled
5. Focus on strong family relationships.
6. Honorifics - nothing wrong with being respectful of elders, I think carrying it too far is better than not at all
7. Coffee/Tea shops - So awesome, theres like a coffee or tea shop every other store in Seoul!
8. The way Korean eat meals, usually sharing a common central dish...Much more personal
9. Public Transportation - Have you ever been on the Seoul Subway. Heck Ive even used the inter-city bus system in very remote areas of Korea. Of course you have to be able to read Hangul, but its still very efficient.

I will discuss education in a different post but I dont think either society has a better education system.

I recognize both societies have benefits over the other. Obviously no society is the perfect society. To be honest if you could get a hybrid of American and Korean Society, I think it would be as close to a perfect blend you could get. I think the Korean society is a bit too "aggressive" yet American society is too "passive". I think American pop-culture has become too progressive and Korean pop-culture is a bit "naive". American families and relationships are too weak (children unwilling to take care of their elderly parents) whereas the ties in Korean society are maybe too strong (children living with parents until they get married?). American lack of respect for elders versus the Korean honorific system. I think in all of these areas a blend would be ideal. I think each society takes some of the good things a bit far and the other society doesnt take far enough.

The problem is you can only live in 1 place at a time. I think people who live in America would love the change when living in Korea and vice-versa. I know I have several blogging friends in Korea who get tired of the pushyness and some other aspects of Korean society. However, I think when they come back to America, they will desperately miss several aspects of Korean society. I guess it goes to the phrase "The grass is always greener on the other side". Being that I have pretty much lived in Korea for the same amount of time in the US over the past year, I truly understand that. While Im in the US I really miss Korea, when I was in Korea I missed things in the US.

However, at this point in my life, I think I would prefer the Korean lifestyle over American. The reason being is I feel that Korean society is like an aggressive (maybe pushy) version of America back in the 1050s...Its tiring, but I dont think its a bad thing. I think the 1950's generation of America was probably one of the most iconic time periods of America.

1 comment:

  1. I am an American woman in a unique position of cultural liaison within a Korean company in America. Coincidentally, I am also in a long term, committed relationship with an older Korean man.
    This weekend I will present a Power Point to my company with advice and encouragement to both Americans and Koreans. My presentation should take an hour and be fairly entertaining, but, primarily, I want to educate and explain the struggles of each culture to the other. I have a deep personal need to reach and soothe these strong cultures.
    I have embraced the local Korean culture as much as possible. I am charmed by the tradition, strength, and inherent beauty the people of Korea carry with them regardless of their current location.
    At the same time, I am often frustrated by the stubbornness of the Korean men. I often feel as if I am fighting all of Korea and Korean tradition when I push to prove myself and be respected as an equal in Korean/American business.