Is America an advanced country?Not so long ago, I had an unpleasant experience while trying to get on a double decker tour bus.
The upper deck was full, so my family decided to get off the bus and wait for the next one. We went back to the front of the line, but a young American who was behind me said we should go to the end of the line. I said, “We’ve been waiting in line and just got off the bus because it was full.” Then, another old man behind him joined, “Go to the end of the line. Everyone is waiting in line!” My family detected the awkward situation and was about to move back. But if we backed off here, it would only humiliate us more. “We don’t need to go to the end of the line,” I insisted.
My children later told me that they were nervous. But when the next bus arrived, the young American behind me cut in front of us and jumped on the bus. It may have been his way of revenge.
The other day, I was driving. I gave a signal 100 meters (62 yards) in advance and tried to change lanes, but the driver on the other lane didn’t yield and raised his middle finger. I should be the one to curse, I thought.
Last week, I was driving on a highway, and an empty plastic bottle was thrown off the window of a driver seat from the car in front of mine. As it was flying off at about 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour, it could have led to a serious accident.
Of course, not all Americans are biased and rude, but they do have a very different mindset from Koreans. Let’s consider the birth order of twins. In Korea, the first-born twin is considered older, but in America, the second-born twin is older. Since Koreans and Americans have such different thinking, we act differently.
Nevertheless, I have reasons to complain about America. Some American voters rave over Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He has called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and insulted Korea, China and Japan as countries that snatch America’s money. But some people still support him. It is a matter of intelligence, not mindset.
In Korea, people laughed at Huh Kyung-young’s ludicrous campaign promises but didn’t vote for him. It is too risky to think that U.S. voters are expressing their anger and exhaustion over the political establishment in Washington. The president of the United States is a position that can decide whether to press the button to launch nuclear weapons. Americans are losing their sanity, but the United States is still the most powerful and developed country in the world. I am surprised by the discrepancy between the two.
The author is the Washington bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 5, Page 26
by KIM HYUN-KI