When I went to Greece for my first overseas travel, I saw people walking on the street with swimsuits and cover ups, some people were kissing in the public places. It was a cultural shock for me. Korea was called “the country of courteous people in the East”, so Koreans were very careful about their behaviors outside of their homes. That was why I was shocked. As time went on, I can see people kissing on the street, wearing hot pants, and tank tops in Korea thanks to globalization. People share information through internet and mass media, and pursue convenient modern city life. As a result, people can see the same brand stores all over the world and eat almost similar fast food everywhere. It looks like similar city life; however people have their own ways and different cultures, which I’d like to share here.
First, store opening hours are different. Australia stores usually open at 9:00am and close around 5:00-5:30pm, and Korea stores usually open around 10:00am and close around 10:00pm. Some markets open 24hours with only few days closing or without closing. I think it reflects Koreans’ busy lives. South Korea has one of the highest average work weeks and overtime hours in the world with rigorous work ethic. Most workers have to leave from their home early and come home late at night, so they need some time to buy groceries, food, and some places to release their stresses. That is why Korean stores opening hours are longer than Australia. South Korea is one of the fastest growing developed countries with sacrifice of individuals’ desire, proper work conditions and economic justice. So Korea has a long way to go, even though it is really convenient for people who have lots of money to live.
Second, Korean people share food from one bowl, and Australians use individual plates and bowls for meals. Korean loves to eat a hot pot of stew like Kimchi stew, bean paste stew, tuna stew and pork stew. The best way to eat these stews is to put a hot pot with full of stew in the middle of a table and eat it together. Koreans usually lived in a town with relatives so didn’t feel any tension or pressure. Koreans liked to share food with all of the villagers together to make a closer relationship and to show consideration to their family. It became the custom to share food from one bowl with family, friends and others. Sharing food from one bowl is the symbol of closeness for Koreans; however it is hygienic table manners to use an individual bowl for restaurants. Koreans have a tendency to save words because we believe that doing is better than saying. I think that is why Korean developed this kind of sharing food culture to express the deep emotion instead of speaking out how we feel every time.
Lastly, Korea and Australia probably have same ideas about well-raised people. If some people are well-raised then they say thank you, please and sorry whenever they need to. They will help people hold doors for next people, ask people with smile and greet people sincerely with kissing, handshaking or bowing. No matter how different the cultures, people can distinguish what is discreet, wise, or appropriate behavior in their own way, and we can feel even though without communication.
People have developed their own cultures for a long time in different ways. Korea stores opening hours is longer than Australia’s, and Koreans share food from one bowl to show their closeness which makes westerners shocked due to personal hygiene. However if no one forces westerners to share the pot with Koreans, then sharing one pot with family isn’t a big matter. Therefore people have various cultures, and try hard to understand other culture intimately.