Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A tale of two cultures

While traveling to the DMZ, I met Kristina on the bus. She is from the same town as another person I like well and we soon were getting on very well. I find the difference in their outlook and view of the world is refreshing. Unfortunately I did not meet anyone like this for the rest of the trip. But I will stop being so obtuse.

Towards the end of the day at the DMZ we were in the tourist shop, and still on UN land. South Korea is the most militaristic place I have ever been. Everywhere there are young men in military uniforms, mostly off duty from what I could tell. To an extent they worship the military ideal and goal. Where Kristina comes from, this type of behaviour would probably land you in jail, or at least you would be ostracised. So she was just so shocked to see the image I have included below. In her country it would not not be allowed. Whoever was responsible for such outrageous behaviour would cause outrage. More importantly: People would be ashamed.

In a way both views are tragic and result from tumultuous pasts in the last century and a resulting over reaction. For Katrina I find it quite interesting. The libertarians hold much more sway in her city. They are so liberal that the city is pilloried by people in other countries for excessive freedoms. Yet they are horrified at this image. I find myself being on the side of her city and grow weary of the pillorists. Certainly some of the Americans I met, while being otherwise nice people, had that sad conservative Anglo-American view of the world.

We did not every try to explain this to the Koreans. Perhaps it would be unfair. Mostly we would instantly run into language barriers. Subtlety and nuance are the first casualties of a language barrier.

It is not allowed

No comments: