Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vietnamese vs. Koreans

Before I start this blog, I want to preface it with the fact that my intentions are not to disrespect any group of people. These are simply my observations, comparisons and contrasts, about two different cultures. Last year I lived in South Korea from June 2007 to June 2008. Things here in Vietnam are so different. The people and the culture here definitely suit me better than they did in South Korea.

The Korean people are exceptionally intelligent and well-educated. The children go to school all day every day, and they study hard. The Korean people, as a nation, have the world's highest IQ on average. However, they have NO common sense. Their social skills are severly lacking, due to the fact that they work so diligently from 6am to midnight every day and have very little social interaction, if any, outside of studying. The Vietnamese people are much friendlier and more interested in helping a foreigner rather than just being selfish and using you to practice their English skills. Not to say that all people are as such because I met some wonderful people in Korea. The Vietnamese are just more laid back and open minded as a society, in my opinion.

Also, the Koreans have no clue how to walk in a straight line. Seriously. We used to walk in zig zag patterns to imitate their walking behavior. Clueless. And oh so frustrating to get behind someone. Not to mention that if they are with a group of friends, they all walk shoulder to shoulder which makes for a fun game of Red Rover if approaching from the opposite direction, especially if you're my size.

Should I mention the driving skills? I will keep this matter tame and leave you with the following question: If the Korean people can't even walk in a straight line, can you attempt a guess at what their driving is like? In contrast, most Vietnamese people drive motorcycles. One false move, and there is a serious accident so they have to be aware of their surroundings. Self-awareness. I haven't seen it in a while so I welcome it with open arms.

The Koreans rush out of the subway, bus, train, .. any enclosed transportation vehicle or coming out of a building, but they walk slow as all hell when they get off or out of the vessel. They push you out of the way and are abhorrently impolite... only to walk frustratingly tortoise-like (in a zig zag pattern, of course) after exiting. The rush to nowhere, I called it. Again, a lack of common sense and unawareness of personal space.

... Which leads me to my next point. I thought it was just our culture in America until I moved here to Vietnam that taught us to respect each others' personal space. In Korea, they push all up on you in the checkout line at the supermarket, bank line, and just walking, even. Again, they are in a rush to do nothing, really. They don't mean to be rude. It's just their culture. They don't have an awareness of people around them. Hence, the rushing out of places only to walk slowly and hold everyone up, the constant bumping into people without acknowleding it with an apology, the walking aimlessly looking everywhere except in the direction in which they are going, and the need to put their faces one inch from yours to try to grasp on to one little English word they learned forty-five years ago in elementary school that they can decifer out of the conversation you're having with your friend.

Koreans' work ethic is a lot more driven than here in Vietnam. In Vietnam, overall, the people seem to be content with mediocrity, which is totally okay. Money just isn't important to them. Hence, there is no recession here. The Korean people want the best education and material things for their children so they work very hard. I worked seven days a week one month in October and March. Those people are some hard workers - white collar. These Vietnamese people work their behind's off with construction jobs, farming, and trading in the many local street markets, and they love their siestas.. and so do I!

Korea is about one hundred times safer than here in Vietnam. I've already had my laptop, money, and motorcycle helmet stolen here. In Korea, I didn't have to even lock my doors. Here, I locked my door at the hotel I stayed in for six weeks and still had my laptop and money stolen. Luckily, now I live on a property that is gated and locked so I don't worry about looters and such as there is always someone here securing the grounds.

And finally, Vietnam is CHEAP!!!!!!!! I can get two appetizers, two entrees, two drinks, and two desserts for $7. I'm not even kidding. Life is here is very economical... that is, if you are an English teacher and make a lot of money :)

I didn't mean for this blog to turn into a "Why I hate Korea" rant because many aspects of living there were wonderful. I met some wonderful people, friends who will indeed be my friends for the entirety of my life, and had many great experiences. However, I love living here in Vietnam, really do hope that I can stay here for a long, long time, and am looking forward to this next chapter in my life and what this country has to offer.


Blogger A Davila Stephens said...

wow, that is so interesting! I don't know if I would be able to handle the walking thing...I guess they don't do DUI tests over there!
Thanks for entertaining me at work, I love your blog!

November 3, 2008 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Alphafemales said...

Your blogs are interesting, especially this one. Thanks for sharing your experiences, they are entertaining!!!

November 18, 2008 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Snap said...

I know this is a really old post, BUT....the zig zag thing, could it be a similar belief to the Chinese? We were told that the old buildings/temples had zig zag path ways, so ghosts can't get you. Apparently ghosts can only walk in straight lines ;)

August 16, 2010 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger MikeInVietnam said...

Well... people just mostly don't look where they're going - not paying attention.. but.. I like your devil's advocate point of view :) haha P.S I just celebrated my two year anniversary here in Vietnam and am more in love with this country than ever! Thanks so much for your comment :)

August 16, 2010 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Snap said...

I really love VN too and have made some good friends there, but sadly have only spent about 6 weeks in the counyry on holidays. Great blog, glad I found it and hope you do continue to write it.


August 17, 2010 at 5:33 AM  

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