Thursday, February 27, 2003

Hot tempered Koreans?
According to this article in the Korea Times Koreans must be the most quick and hot tempered people on earth, beating the Italians by lengths. Is it true?

The author means Koreans are fast in everything. They adopt new technology faster than the Japanese,"...two out of every three Koreans, including the youth, have cellular phones." They are constructing that fast, that they "have seen this manifest in collapsed buildings and bridges". Taking your meals is "more like an Olympic event.In his opinion"a leisurely Korean lunch is rarer than a Nazi humanitarian." And he gives more examples: "Foreigners savor ice cream by licking it with their tongue. But Koreans often suffer headaches and numbness as they down an ice cream in one go. [...] Foreigners hail taxis from the curb of the road, while Koreans will march right to the middle of the road. [...] Koreans will leave their cinema seats as soon as the final climax is over."

Now, is this true? My answer is yes and no. Some of the given examples are totally to the point from my experience. When you're still pondering which mobile phone contract to choose, a Korean is already choosing the perfect toy to attach on his mobile, mostly the more difficult decision. And yes, there is no doubt, bridges and buildings have been collapsed several times. And yes, by the time you're checking out how to hold your chopsticks, Koreans will start eating from your meal as theirs is already finished. And yes, I personally know the fastest ice cream eater on earth, also known as the chocolate destroyer. And yes, in the evenings one or two lanes of the road are packed with people hailing taxis. And also yes, Koreans seldomly watch the credits of a movie or request encores in concerts. And there is more. The words "balli balli" (quick quick) are to be heard everywhere. When going out to have a drink with friends the most common phrase is "one shot, one shot" (to down the drink).

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen people run in the mountains? And I don't mean just hills, I mean real mountain. And I don't mean walking fast but running. And they don't have the common serpentine footpaths you find in the western world, there the trails are going straight to the top. They don't savour the nature by just walking in the mountains. They run up, cry aloud from the top and run down.

But there are also cases where they are unimaginably slow. In their spare time for example it may take hours to decide where to go and what to do, and then to actually do it. But anyway, I think we can agree that Koreans are a fast people, even I wouldn't go that far to say they are hot tempered as Italians. These are two different pair of shoes.

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