Words of Wisdom:

"Pride is the sign of a foolish man" stephen graham XZIBIT" - Whytee

Is Culture the Main Culprit

  • Date Submitted: 05/04/2014 06:13 PM
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When there's a mass shooting in America, who gets blamed? The perp? No: American culture. American gun culture. The NRA. The violence in our movies, et al. There's always plenty of blame to go around, but rarely is it mostly focused on the actual perpetrator. When it is, the talking heads on TV try to find ways to "understand" the shooter's motivations. What's more, even when the gunman is shown to be mentally ill, the conversation comes back to criticizing American culture, the gun culture, and so on. Why is it okay to blame America for American tragedies, but not Korea for Korean tragedies? This certainly is one.

I live in South Korea. I deal with the hypocrisies, the double-standards, the sense of entitlement felt by older Koreans, and neo-Confucian "stereotypes" every single day. Seoul is a vibrant, energetic city. I love living here, and I have great affection for so much about Korea and Korean culture. But I've taught Korean kids. I've seen their lack of imagination, which they lack not because they're abnormal, but because their society doesn't let them exercise it much. I've seen their workloads, and I've witnessed the way their parents' and their society's expectations rob them of what Americans would recognize as a childhood.

By and large, Korean kids don't question the expectations placed on them. They might complain, but rebel? No. They might boldly ignore directions given to them by a foreigner, but they are much more likely to respect the orders of an older Korean. This deference to elders, and authority figures, is even built into their language: Korean is full of honorifics. Speaking in the wrong way, without observing proper form, is almost sure to bring censure. Even Korean drinking culture - and this country *loves* to drink - has rules regarding when and how to drink around those who are older or perceived to be of higher stature.

Some stereotypes exist for a reason. And Koreans have them, too: I'm Jewish, and when Koreans find that...


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