I am so sick of this I'm-not-going-to-make-any-effort-to-understand-Korean-culture attitude that I'm getting from other foreigners. In the past week I've heard such stupid excuses for this like:
“I'm not going to be here for that long.”
“There's too much to remember.”
“Tourism here is growing. Koreans need to learn English.”
WOW!!! The ignorance and stupidity of these comments. You really can't take the time to learn basic things?!
Hello, goodbye, thank you, I'm sorry, excuse me, can I please have blee blah blah? … These are all things you should learn if you travel to another country. And if you're really adventurous, learn how to ask for directions or how much something costs. Wow, so difficult apparently.
I get so annoyed when people go to Canada and literally make no effort to learn English. (French if you're living in a French area.) It's so rude. You can't walk into another country expecting everyone to drop everything and cater to you because you're to fucking lazy to learn a few phrases. Even to learn how to ask someone if they speak English in their language is better than expecting it from everyone.
I had one guy tell me he doesn't understand the way people address other people here. I think it was his roommate (Korean) who asked him his age and then called him his older brother when he got a reply. What's so difficult to understand here? You are older so you are seen as his older brother. You see and middle aged man or woman, you call them uncle or aunty respectively. This one is so difficult for you? **Korea is like one big family. But just because you call someone uncle, doesn't mean you are blood related. No one is implying this. It's just more respectful to call them that then by their first name. You don't just go on first name basis with someone you don't know. It's like calling someone sir or ma'am. Actually, it's quite the same. It just so happens that in Korean it translates to uncle and aunty. This you can easily learn on the internet. But no, you're too fucking ignorant and the world must cater to you.
And then you bring in the argument that you won't be here long enough to learn everything and truly understand Korean culture. No shit!! But that doesn't give you an excuse to make zero effort. You're just making yourself look like an ass. I don't care if you only here for a week. Learn how to say hello and thank really not that difficult. Three people I've got this disgusting attitude from this week alone. My teacher tells me I've made too many Korean friends and I need to make friends with more foreigners. Well no, I'm not going to go out of my way to be around such ignorance.
Another one didn't understand why Koreans didn't understand why she would be here and not learn any of the language. Really? You can't see why Koreans would be offended that you would come to their country and take a place in their classroom and not make any effort to learn their language? It's rude. How can you not see that?
Part of the reason to do an exchange program is for cultural exchange right? No one here is expecting you to know everything about their culture and speak the language fluently. But a little goes a long way. I thought this was a basic concept.
I remember two years ago when I was getting ready to go to Chisasibi, I kept saying that I'd do whatever the Cree people do if I have the chance. Cause you know, I was going to their land and it would be rude of me to barge in and expect my life to continue on normally. No. I had to adjust. Adjust to their sense of humor, sense of time and listening to their language all the time. Of course it's frustrating to not be able to understand what's being said all the time. BUT IT'S NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LOCALS TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE OF THOSE VISITING!!! And if you think it is, you should probably just go back home.
So there's that. I have much love for those who are not in the Korean language and are still making the effort to learn about Korean culture, including the language. That’s how it should be done. If you want to live the same life you've always been living, go home.
**I actually find this amazing that many Koreans are so ready to accept foreigners to the point of calling us by these titles. I feel that much more welcome.