America and Korea: What’s the same?

“It’s easy to notice the differences. But let me ask you this: what have you noticed that’s the same in both cultures?” -Branden Lee

A great question from a friend here in Korea. What are some similarities between Korea and America?

  • Everyone always divides by gender. Sure, there are some exceptions, but in general women congregate with women and men with men.
  • Everyone protests when someone tries to pay for the entire meal at a restaurant. It’s not that anyone likes losing money, but no one wants to look like a mooch.
  • Everyone complains about work. Even if it’s pretty awesome, everyone likes to talk about the downsides to whatever job they have.
  • Everyone J-walks. Koreans have told me, usually at intersections, that we don’t really need to wait for the “walk” light, since this is Korea. But then Americans have told me the same thing about their intersections back home.
  • Everyone thinks their country is world class. The language, the commerce, the education, the government system and politics – no one says it’s perfect, but most say their own is one of the best.
  • Everyone “knows” they’re not a racist. Most of the time now, this doesn’t create that much of an issue, but it’s certainly easier to assume when you never interact with other races.

Last but not least, everyone points out the differences between cultures – very few point out the similarities.

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