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Without words, speaking different languages
Los Angeles Times / latimes.com ^ | May 1, 2010 | 3:34 p.m. | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

Posted on 05/04/2010 7:19:19 PM PDT by thecodont

Reporting from Seoul Min Byoung-chul, a professor at Konkuk University, was recently having lunch with some Chinese students. This time, it was the teacher who was taking notes.

The students were citing differences between Chinese and South Korean culture. Why, they asked, do Koreans look at them strangely when they lift their rice bowls to eat, or smoke in front of the elderly?

And why do Korean teachers get insulted when they hand in their papers using one hand instead of two? And hasn't anyone told teachers that students from China would never bow like their Korean counterparts?

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Japanese students voiced similar differences with Koreans. Why, for example, do South Koreans talk loudly on their cellphones in trains and buses, a practice that's a social taboo back home?

Min has made an avocation out of cataloging such differences. He's a cross-cultural interpreter whose terrain is the delicate, often undefined line where cultural mannerisms clash.

Over the years, the 59-year-old educator and his team of researchers have queried people at airports, coffeehouses and classrooms in the U.S. and Asia about cultural faux pas committed by visiting foreigners.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Japan
KEYWORDS: americans; asia; culture; gestures
"A 70-year-old Korean man once reached over to rub my inner thigh as we talked in my office," he said. "His gesture was meant to show, ‘I know you. I'm friendly. I've seen you on TV.'

"But I explained that as South Korea becomes more globalized, foreign visitors won't understand. I advised him to stop doing that."

1 posted on 05/04/2010 7:19:20 PM PDT by thecodont
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To: thecodont
"Why do Japanese...." never mind.


2 posted on 05/04/2010 7:30:54 PM PDT by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: thecodont

This is the weekly “white liberal guilt’ article from the LAT.


3 posted on 05/04/2010 7:35:34 PM PDT by max americana
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To: thecodont
In 1993, Min published "Ugly Koreans, Ugly Americans," examining customs that are often lost in translation across the Pacific Ocean. He co-wrote follow-ups, "Ugly Japanese, Ugly Americans" and "Ugly Chinese, Ugly Americans," which further detail clashes between East and West.

I have his Ugly Koreans, Ugly Americans book. It was hilarious.

4 posted on 05/04/2010 7:37:47 PM PDT by Tamar1973 (Freedom of the Press?! I need Freedom FROM THE PRESS!)
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To: max americana
This is the weekly “white liberal guilt’ article from the LAT.

I'm unclear why you see it that way.

I thought it was pretty evenhanded.

While on the subject, though, the thing that bugs me is that if I go to Asia I'm expected by liberals to adjust to the Asian way of doing things, and I agree.

Yet when Asians come here, liberals expect me to adjust to the Asian way of doing things. All I ask for is a single standard. When in Korea or America, do things the Korean or American way.

5 posted on 05/04/2010 7:45:42 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: thecodont
And things like this don't help:

From a Japanese-English phrasebook (could be a hoax, but funny):

* A 29-year-old Tokyo man visiting San Francisco for the first time meant to ask a female store clerk, “May I please have film for my camera?” But what he actually said was, “Would you place your copious breasts in my mouth?” He was slapped in the face, then got tossed out by the manager.
* Four family members from Osaka were thrilled see their favorite American singer coming out of a ritzy store in Beverly Hills. While waving frantically, they shouted out what they believed to be, “We love you so much.” Unfortunately, what they really said was, “We’re here to take your head.” The four were arrested and detained for six hours by police.
* A 45-year-old tourist from Okinawa looking for the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem thought he was asking a group of young men, “I am lost. Which way is uptown?” In reality, he said, “I know martial arts. May I kick your ass?” He was chased five blocks before being rescued by police.

6 posted on 05/04/2010 7:51:15 PM PDT by Tench_Coxe
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To: thecodont

One common phrase that you will hear from all three: “O.K.”


7 posted on 05/04/2010 7:54:14 PM PDT by Tench_Coxe
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To: Sherman Logan
“All I ask for is a single standard.”

Maybe the ancient giant sloth standard....

8 posted on 05/04/2010 7:55:00 PM PDT by JSteff (It was ALL about SCOTUS. Most forget about that and HAVE DOOMED us for a generation or more.)
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To: Sherman Logan

“All I ask for is a single standard.”

Maybe the ancient giant sloth standard....


9 posted on 05/04/2010 7:55:19 PM PDT by JSteff (It was ALL about SCOTUS. Most forget about that and HAVE DOOMED us for a generation or more.)
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To: thecodont

It is interesting to learn the differences in culture. This is the same all over the world...there are different traditions and cultures with their own social rules.

Sometimes the differences are there even within the same country. For example, social behavior is quite different in New York City and surrounding areas compared to many towns in the southern states. Eye contact with strangers is seldom made in the northeast. In the real south (without many Yankee transplants) it is common and even expected to make eye contact with strangers and to also greet them with a nice comment.


10 posted on 05/04/2010 7:57:29 PM PDT by Swede Girl
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To: thecodont
It's always a good idea to have some notion of the local expectations and etiquette--just making the attempt will probably win points and earn some forgiveness from the locals for whatever doesn't go quite right.

Consider what a fool our president makes of himself by making up his own etiquette as he goes along.
11 posted on 05/04/2010 8:00:39 PM PDT by Nepeta
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To: Swede Girl
It is interesting to learn the differences in culture. This is the same all over the world...there are different traditions and cultures with their own social rules.

I enjoy reading the "Culture Shock" and "Culture Smart" books--for different countries--in my local (chain) bookstore's Travel section.

What you are saying is we need such guides within our own country. :-)

12 posted on 05/04/2010 8:02:24 PM PDT by thecodont
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To: Sherman Logan
"Yet when Asians come here, liberals expect me to adjust to the Asian way of doing things. All I ask for is a single standard. When in Korea or America, do things the Korean or American way."

And my experience has been that, with few exceptions, asians DO make a sincere attempt to do things the American way when they come here; just as I do my best to observe their customs when I travel to their countries.

In general, it's not that hard to do a little reading and learn.

13 posted on 05/04/2010 8:42:22 PM PDT by Redbob (W.W.J.B.D.: "What Would Jack Bauer Do?")
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