Hopeless Koreans? Not at All

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Hopeless Koreans? Not at All

In ancient Assyria, there was a custom of seeking a medical prescription from a passerby when one was afflicted with a disease. This idea derived from the concept of borrowing wisdom from others since one cannot look at one''s own sickness. But there were such prescriptions as cutting ears to relieve headaches, which implies that the advice of others is not always useful.

A public interest advertisement now being broadcast demonstrates the concept of seeing our faults by borrowing other people''s eyes. The content of the advertisement is that when a scoundrel break into a queue, jaywalks and throws away a cigarette butt, a foreigner passing by glares at the scene. It seems to contrast the iohopeless Koreansls and i.superb foreigners,l. which makes me feel ill at ease. This seems to be excessive self-degradation. Let''s take a look at the advanced foreign countriesl. that I have witnessed directly. In the center of Berlin, Germany, there were rows of jaywalkers. The situation was similar in Manhattan, when there were hardly any people obeying the Don''t walk sign. It was the same in London and Paris.

When the backdrop was taken into consideration, it was sufficiently convincing. When I pointed out the jaywalking to a Berlin policeman, he replied that the governmental authority should not interfere with actions conducted under one''s own responsibility. It seemed to mean that although public order and the formation of the consciousness of the community are indeed important, it should be accomplished in an autonomous manner and not by the authorities in trying to enlighten the people, who are the owners of the nation. A native of Manhattan said that since New Yorkers are busy and calculating, if there aren''t any cars coming, nobody uses just the pedestrian crossing. Those who stand by the pedestrian crossing are mostly tourists or rustics, who may become targets of pickpockets.

In the global village, everyone has a right to be unashamed of one''s customs. Several years ago, the European Union distributed a poster of a joke under the title of iiIdeal European.ld Its contents are ioDrive like the French, be composed like the Italians, do not say redundant words like the Greeks, be compassionate like the Austrians and be humorous like the Germans,ln but the actual reputations of the people of these countries are exactly the contrary. It pointed out the specific characters of these people paradoxically. This attitude is affirmative in recognizing shortcomings as characteristic traits. As I learned in Egypt, foreigners pay more than the natives when they ride in a taxi or when they enter monuments, without exception. In our position, this conduct is called overcharging. The order of getting into a bus is determined by experience and shrewdness.

In Arab society, there is a custom called baksheesh -a tip - in which the rich always have to help the poor when they request it. It is reasonable to request heavy tips from the rich. It is sort of a social agreement. So Egyptians insist that receiving a bigger payment from well-off foreigners is an extension of this custom. And it is an unwritten law that no matter how crowded the bus is, men never sit next to women and the adults who are seated always hold children on their laps. They are maintaining public order in their manner and they are not ashamed of themselves in front of those foreigners whose customs are different from theirs. Public order is a means of sustaining the community, but itself is not an object. And the government does not demand it of the citizens, but rather the people establish it in their own way.

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