[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Interaction between strangersI have lived in Korea since 1999 and continue to reach my saturation point (critical mass, I guess you could say) on a daily and weekly basis with those aspects of Seoul that you mentioned in your article. I recall that I once asked my students why one had to face this relentless onslaught of rude behavior day after day, and was told to expect this because “Korea is a small country and there are just too many people here.”
I countered with, “Well, I have been to Japan twice ― also a very crowded country. Only one person bumped into me there, and she was most apologetic.”
There is an ethic here that profoundly influences this kind of community behavior (or lack thereof), but a discussion on the underlying principles is worthy of more pages of text than I am prepared to write, and more than you are prepared to read.
So, in that regard, I guess you just ought to be prepared to be invisible with respect to the interaction between strangers, count backwards slowly from 10 - 1 under these circumstances, and find your sanity in the company of dear friends, and tranquility in the jungles and on the remote beaches of Southeast Asia.
Personally, I have found that a month away from the crowds in remote sections of Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam will surely revitalise me before I have to face the hordes once again for another semester.
This aside, the friendships that I have built here over the years and the heartfelt sentimentality of Koreans must be keeping me here, as they have for the past five years.
Bonne chance and be careful of the bruising!
by Cameron Wood