Day #92, Cultural Difference

October 15+1, 2016

I had my first guest last night.

They came to go to Warehouse Project, a club in Northern Quarter.

Lucy was from Norwich, UK, and her friend James was from another city. They were very nice young lads, smiling and respectful, with the manner that you have when you are grown up in a normal family in a Western country.

As a Korean born and raised, I saw the difference in manners between people from ‘developed Western countries’ and ‘developing and/or under-developed Asian countries’. I don’t know anything about African and South American cultures, but I can say something about the difference between the Asian and the Western.

I know I shouldn’t generalise, but actually there are certain general things in the attitude of people from certain culture. For example, being quiet not to disturb others when you are sharing some space, not touching others’ stuff without asking, asking if they could do something next to them if they think the others may not like it such as smoking etc. Basically the attitude from empathy. These are common sense and manners in Western culture. But it hasn’t been in Asian culture, they have their own manners, and young generation these days have been trying to learn to have those Western manners since they started watching Western movies and having knowledge of those different manners. But, when you don’t learn to have empathy while being raised by your parents, it’s not actually easy to learn yourself and become natural in those manners when you are an adult.

I remember I was surprised and became curious about ‘English speaking’ countries, when I first learned the expression “Do you mind if I smoke here?” in an English class at school. I had never heard anyone asking this before in Korea, whereas so many people smoked everywhere at that time. That is empathy, which we don’t really have in Korean culture. It doesn’t mean Koreans are rude, we have different ways of being polite and showing empathy, but because of these different ways, Koreans can be misunderstood as being rude, and the concept of ‘Ugly Koreans’ at travel destinations was created.

Anyway, I am more used to Western manners, it became more natural to me while living in Western countries for the last 10 years. So, I wonder how I would feel when I have a guest from a country with a totally different manner.

Let’s wait and see.

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