[Letters] Riches without mannersToday, Korea is one of the economically leading countries in the world. The situation of the country, in fact, was quite different several decades ago. After the economic revolution led by former President Park Chung Hee, the country started to boost its economy and finally reached its current state.
Comparing its development to other countries, Koreans can be thought of as overnight millionaires. But despite Korea advancing in material aspects, somehow it seems like the nation’s immaterial attitudes have not advanced as quickly.
Now that Korean people are relatively wealthy, they now try to enjoy their money by indulging in leisure activities. The fact is that while they enjoy trips abroad, they are promoting negative views of Korea. As Koreans became rich so radically, there wasn’t enough time for them to learn adequate manners and they act inappropriately on trips to foreign countries.
I used to think that some people in countries outside of Korea talked loudly because they have strong accents. But surprisingly, I have found that Koreans actually are much louder than people in other places. It isn’t that all Koreans are unconscious of their surroundings, but many Koreans who travel abroad as tourists are.
I first found out about this when I was studying abroad. I was walking along the street when suddenly I noticed a group of people making a ruckus. On the opposite side of the street a group was standing next to a tour bus that had a Korean name written on it. At that time, everyone around me was staring at the Korean tourists. Since I was a Korean as well, I was really embarrased.
Last month, my mother went on a business trip to another country. On her way back home, she had a similar experience.
In the airplane, some Korean tourists were singing along to the song that was on the radio. What’s more is that one of them even turned around in their seat to sing along with the others. They settled down after my mother asked them to stop several times.
We Koreans are successful people. We do not deserve to be looked upon poorly by foreigners. It is not too late. I wish that Koreans would pay more attention to their behavior so that we can be recognized as a novel nation of Asia.
Yang Hee-bum, Goyang Foreign Language High School