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Has anyone else noticed this, too?
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Seoulman69



Joined: 14 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:37 am    Post subject: Has anyone else noticed this, too? Reply with quote

Overall I like Koreans. I have noticed some peculiarities in their behaviour though. Here is another:

Koreans tend to bump into me. A lot. Before I blame others I always try to take a look at myself and see if I am doing something wrong, but here I am at a loss. It confuses me because when I return home I am never bumped into. Even in very busy Christmas sales in large stores I am still very rarely bumped into. Yet here it happens almost everyday. Today I was taking my recycling downstairs and was waiting for the elevator. I had two bags, one in each hand. They were a tad bulky but there was plenty of space for people to get past me. When the elevator door opened a couple strolled out. I stood still because the elevator was on its way up instead of my preferred down. The girl of the couple then proceeded to walk directly into one of the bags I was holding. As her knees met the plastic bag a glass clunk filled the air. I turned round to see her boyfriend give me an expression that seemed to be apologetic and a bit embarrassed, but I may be projecting how I would have reacted onto him.
A strange occurrence which is not unique. I thought perhaps living in Korea among a highly dense population may be the cause of this but another experience may suggest otherwise.
I was at the Seoul friendship fair with my girlfriend. We were walking to the stalls at the back when a young Korean female nearly hit me in the face with her raised hand. She had decided to point somewhere, while combining this move with walking and looking elsewhere. A rookie move for anyone with common sense, but not in her case. As I advised her to take care when waving her hand around her boyfriend entered the embryonic fracas. He was a small squat Korean lad but his command of English, American accent, and foul mouth suggested someone who had lived abroad.
As he became more agitated by the circumstances he found himself in he became disparaging in his comments. This reached its zenith when he uttered the classic line - "Don't do this in my country!" My face must have shown how stupid the comment was as he seemed embarrassed by his strange outburst. Realizing how stupid I must look by arguing with someone at a friendship festival I made my final argument and left. The last thing I heard him say was - "Yeah! Walk away!" Once again I was confused by his comment as the most natural way of leaving the situation would be to walk. It seems common sense was neither of their strong suit. I later saw the couple walking around with a couple of foreigners. I wondered how they would feel about his comments but instead focused my mind on enjoying my beer and girlfriend's company.
Anyway, my point is that even Koreans that have lived abroad (or perhaps even been raised abroad) seem to be unable to avoid bumping into other people. Why is this? Does the fact that many Koreans have poor eyesight have anything to do with it?

Has anyone else noticed this?
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le-paul



Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Location: dans la chambre

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i think its got something to do with manners or lack thereof. or maybe something to do with disguising things as cultural differences and then making no attempt whatsoever to better yourself as a human... ive heard the Confucian argument, i just see it as a bit of an anachronism.
my gfs korean, and she (and parents and friends) gets pissed when people slam into her all the time. ive even seen signs all over the subway telling people how to walk and not snowplow people put of your way.
so in conclusion, id say the human condition is one that doesnt like to be pushed and cajoled. most people take the majority of things as a personal attack anyway. how could being pushed with no apology be any different? go to taiwan or japan for a week, its like soul balm. i almost cried when someone said sorry for pushing me.
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Threequalseven



Joined: 08 May 2012

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've definitely gotten used to the rushing, the shoving, the cramming, and yes - the bumping. Really, it's just acceptable behavior. People are used to dealing with tiny spaces, and people are used to ignoring others around them. I think many Koreans figure, "if I'm doing something, people around me should know how to act accordingly." This could apply to anything: walking into traffic, running red lights, squeezing past other cars, waving your hand, diddling around in the bike lane, etc. I once slammed square into another guy walking to the bus terminal! I quickly realized afterward that he was blind, but his wife who was holding his hand made no effort to guide him out of the way. (And in my defense, I was already on the far right of the footpath.)

Just try to learn to accept this. And take advantage of it too. Don't let everybody bump ahead of you in queues for the escalator, etc. Just think like a Korean. Heck, you're probably bigger than them... they'll get out of your way! Cool
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andrewchon



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Location: In my goshiwon cubicle. Seeking moksha.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nobody ever bumps into me. Therefore I must conclude that you must be a very attractive person and people are unable to resist your magnetic powers. I should be so lucky.
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Seoulman69



Joined: 14 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing

I've enjoyed the replies. I thought it very strange a grown woman would walk into a bag of glass bottles.
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seoulsucker



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Location: The Land of the Hesitant Cutoff

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a kind of culturally institutionalized lack of spacial awareness here. You learn to anticipate it after living here long enough, especially in traffic. There's a level of vigilance I maintain, which is simply accepting that everyone, everywhere, at all times and in every situation is going to do the most bone-headed, socially inconsiderate and disruptive move possible. Once you accept that, there's sort of a wave of peace that rolls over you.
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rollo



Joined: 10 May 2006
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it has to do with the crowding and the need to block out things around you. Also there is a tendancy in Asians to have a lack of periperihal vision. there is a name for this , it escapes me but it is very common in Asians. i will now be called a racist but it has been written about in medical journals.
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Hugo85



Joined: 27 Aug 2010

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had numerous people trip on my foot after doing a sharp 90 degree turn in front of me.... in nearly empty street. Oh well.
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zombiedog



Joined: 03 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've noticed this phenomenon, too. I simply cannot explain it. For example, when walking on the sidewalk, someone 10 meters in front of me heading my way will move directly into my path, even when their side of the sidewalk is perfectly clear. This doesn't happen all the time, but enough for me to note it and consider it as something other than coincidence.

Also, I do a lot of hiking in the hills where I live, but often when I encounter someone on the trail they will make no effort to let me pass. I must either step off the trial or body-slam them. Note, some people are very polite as well, but there is enough history of impoliteness that I've developed my own fairly accurate stereotypes of Koreans "bumping" me.
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highstreet



Joined: 13 Nov 2010

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Asia, people lack spatial awareness. It's bizzare, but you get used to it. If you don't you're going to be annoyed daily.

My favorite is the person who walks next to you, slightly behind you, then they quickly cut in front of you to get in to a building. Why they don't go behind me is anyone's guess.
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Seoulman69



Joined: 14 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
there is a tendancy in Asians to have a lack of periperihal vision. there is a name for this , it escapes me but it is very common in Asians. i will now be called a racist but it has been written about in medical journals.


RACIST!!!!!! HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT. THAT IS SO UNTRUE.....wait a minute.
http://www.iovs.org/content/51/11/6059.full

Looks like we have a winner.
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rambler



Joined: 18 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personal space is important to westerners. It isn't something that folks consider here. They aren't being rude, they're just different than you. Respect that and get on with your day.
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Gnawbert



Joined: 23 Oct 2007
Location: The Internet

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

seoulsucker wrote:
There's a kind of culturally institutionalized lack of spacial awareness here. You learn to anticipate it after living here long enough, especially in traffic. There's a level of vigilance I maintain, which is simply accepting that everyone, everywhere, at all times and in every situation is going to do the most bone-headed, socially inconsiderate and disruptive move possible. Once you accept that, there's sort of a wave of peace that rolls over you.


This.

Few and far between are the children who look both ways before they cross anything, a street a sidewalk a hallway. It's just not taught and reinforced that much, if at all. And since it isn't, it just makes its way upwards through the ages. I'm not saying it's some terrible barbaric place, far from it in fact. It's just a difference in upbringing and priorities.

One of my first parent-teacher meetings in Korea I sat down with my director, one of my top students, and his parents. When they asked what their child should work on, I explained: "Well, he doesn't give other students much personal space."

I don't know if there was something lost in translation, but it took my director several minutes to explain and mime out just that one comment.
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lemak



Joined: 02 Jan 2011

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a 100kg male I personally enjoyed it. Where else on Earth can you get away with body checking a grandma or 25kg waif in high heels and have it considered thoroughly acceptable? Commendable even. Especially the public transport. Ends up like a full contact sport. You want the handicapped spot? Not on my watch, Gramps!
As far as the peripheral vision, racist, or not racist, me and the (Asian) missus did a check not long ago about how far back into our periphery we could see. Between both sides I must have had a good 60 degree additional visibility on her. That explains part of it, but not those who more or less deliberately walk straight into you. To me that seemed straight up dumb. Nevermind the fact you think I don't exist, deserve to be stepped on, forced to move out of your way. Have a basic modicum of self preservation and realize if you walk straight into someone three or four times your weight you're not going to come out of it better for wear. Ommoh, indeed, little Min Ju. Twisted Evil
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fermentation



Joined: 22 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes and no. Personal space and public manners aren't taught here. People aren't taught spacial awareness and seem to forget other people exist. But I disagree that this isn't an example of rude behavior because Koreans hate this shit too. It all depends on the context and situation, but I've heard plenty of Koreans mutter disapproval under their breath when somebody bumps into them. I've shoved people aside like I've been shoved and quickly realized people don't enjoy being shoved. But they do it anyway.

They don't even realize it either. There was a guy in the army I was close to but he was really bad at this. He would shove me out of the way and spread his legs into mine when sitting next to me. I shoved him out of the way once and he asked me why I just shoved him. I was like, "are you serious?" Completely oblivious to his own actions.

I've seen junior conscripts shove or cough in the faces of seniors and apologize when the offended senior point it out. I've also seen younger kids get kicked in the face for bumping into other students out of the way and not realizing they were upperclassmen. This tells me that yes, people know it and don't like it when they're the one being shoved or having their space invaded.

It even happens among family members. My family bump and push eachother out of the way all the time. My dad and aunt both this past holiday on two separate occasions shoved their feet into my body while stretching out their legs and they just left it there. So I was sitting there with a person pushing their feet into my body and it seemed they didn't even notice it until I moved out of the way. It was weird. I wanted to ask them why but I know I would offend them. I know for sure if I did the same to them they wouldn't enjoy it.

Quote:
Anyway, my point is that even Koreans that have lived abroad (or perhaps even been raised abroad) seem to be unable to avoid bumping into other people. Why is this? Does the fact that many Koreans have poor eyesight have anything to do with it?


Eyesight is a terrible excuse. My guess is that they wouldn't do it in the States but they adapt to Korea by acting like other Koreans. Heck you even have foreigners who admit they shove people out of the way. I've been pushed by white people a couple times too. When in Rome, right?

Quote:
My favorite is the person who walks next to you, slightly behind you, then they quickly cut in front of you to get in to a building. Why they don't go behind me is anyone's guess.


Or refuse to walk behind their friends in a narrow hallway or sidewalk and stubbornly walk beside them, making it harder for everybody to walk pass.

Quote:
there is a tendancy in Asians to have a lack of periperihal vision. there is a name for this , it escapes me but it is very common in Asians. i will now be called a racist but it has been written about in medical journals.


Doesn't explain why myself and so many other Asian Americans in the US don't shove people out of the way. Or why I've met so many Asian American newcomers to Korea complain about people shoving them out of the way or having their personal space invaded. I don't know if we really have less peripheral vision (I've never been not Asian so I can't compare) but we are physiologically capable of respecting other people's personal space. Honestly, that was a stupid explanation.
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