Sunday, August 9, 2009

Moving Forward for the Wrong Reasons

This video is playing now on TVs across Seoul - a public service announcement (PSA) of sorts - showing both the good and the bad side of Korean culture. It addresses many of the negative "first impressions" a westerner sees when coming to Korea for a short time: impatience, rudeness to strangers, and depression.

Source and translation:

At first glance I really liked this video, (though it missed out on a few things and the Korean on the escalator would never have looked back at the person he pushed aside) but when talking to Sara about it, she made an excellent point. This PSA is not trying to make a better, more polite Korea for Koreans - it is for the foreigners. The message comes off as: foreigners think you are disrespectful. The message should be: respect your fellow man.

This seems to be a common theme with government-sponsored initiatives, like the one that is trying to change the side of the stairs that people walk up and down on, from left to right. This is a completely foreigner-centric policy that is not actually helping Koreans in their day-to-day life.

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