You spend enough time in Asia as an Irishman and you give up expecting to find Irish stuff. You know you’ll stumble across something here or there, but at the best of times all you can find is a can of Guinness and a Westlife song. Chiang Mai, despite its large expat population and even larger tourist numbers was no better than Korea, or anywhere else I’ve been. I had hoped for half a day or so, but any hopes I had were soon dashed by the obvious.
There will be a significant number of people who will chalk it down to prejudice or a lack of understanding, and to be fair in some people, and with some issues, this may very well be the case. However, the story is not a simple as that. In my opinion, there are obvious traits about Korean culture that stand-out and that guide us to cultural conclusions, and these are very often the right ones. Let's go through a few and I will highlight the simplified cultural explanation (SCE) and see if there is any truth to it:
It has come to my attention that foreigners in Korea (including me) often use cultural explanations for much of the behaviour that can be seen by Korean people and also sometimes draw conclusions from it. Why is that?
Bitter, Sweet, Seoul
This week [Monday, February 11, 2014] was the premier of Bitter, Sweet, Seoul.
It was one of the most physically taxing things I’ve done in a while – a mountain hike up one of Daegu’s beautiful peaks, Mt. Apsan. It was also something that I only could have done with the help, encouragement and understanding of my fellow hikers, most of whom barely knew any English.
We took advantage of the beautiful weather one Saturday to head down to Jeolla-do, the south-west area of Korea. The fog seeped back into the mountains, the air smelled like dirt and trees, we moved through highways and roads that would leave us southbound. We were pleasantly surprised to find a persimmon farm.
Did anyone else get this email below? Who wouldn’t be persuaded by some PR firm hack with no idea about East Asia giving suggestions she doesn’t understand by robo-email? Yuck. Maybe I’m reading it the wrong way – maybe getting yelled at by the Korean government about nomenclature means someone actually reads my blog. Hah!