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People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« on: November 23, 2020, 06:09:55 pm »
I traveled before in places like Costa Rica or Colombia, where if you look confused even for a couple of seconds, random people around you will approach and warmly ask if you need some help. Also it's pretty common to speak to locals to ask for restaurant or store recommendations, and people are more than happy to give you suggestions

But Korea is the complete opposite. Many times if you ask for help on the street (even in Korean), they will give you the death stare, make an x with their arms, shake their head, etc. I thought it was because they're afraid to speak with foreigners at first, but then my Korean SO also doesn't really ask for help, and has gotten rude reactions before when doing so. Why do people here react so unpleasantly?


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2020, 06:56:53 pm »
I traveled before in places like Costa Rica or Colombia, where if you look confused even for a couple of seconds, random people around you will approach and warmly ask if you need some help. Also it's pretty common to speak to locals to ask for restaurant or store recommendations, and people are more than happy to give you suggestions

But Korea is the complete opposite. Many times if you ask for help on the street (even in Korean), they will give you the death stare, make an x with their arms, shake their head, etc. I thought it was because they're afraid to speak with foreigners at first, but then my Korean SO also doesn't really ask for help, and has gotten rude reactions before when doing so. Why do people here react so unpleasantly?

Certain places of the world (particularly larger cities) people are incredibly weary of strangers and you can't really blame them, I'm very suspicious of anyone who wants to casually walk up and chat to me. I'll instinctively take a step back and keep my hands near my pockets to make sure someone else isn't trying to pick my pockets while the stranger distracts me.

Not sure what else to tell you. Perhaps you look kind of intimidating?


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2020, 07:10:41 pm »
Certain places of the world (particularly larger cities) people are incredibly weary of strangers and you can't really blame them, I'm very suspicious of anyone who wants to casually walk up and chat to me. I'll instinctively take a step back and keep my hands near my pockets to make sure someone else isn't trying to pick my pockets while the stranger distracts me.

Not sure what else to tell you. Perhaps you look kind of intimidating?
Quite the opposite lol. I'm probably the least intimidating looking guy possible :angel:

I grew up in a massive city in NE USA so I'm used to cities being fast paced and not really talkative. That said if you leave the business district in Boston or Philly, people do become a bit friendlier. But in Seoul it feels like even on the very edges people aren't really open


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2020, 08:02:13 pm »
Quite the opposite lol. I'm probably the least intimidating looking guy possible :angel:

I grew up in a massive city in NE USA so I'm used to cities being fast paced and not really talkative. That said if you leave the business district in Boston or Philly, people do become a bit friendlier. But in Seoul it feels like even on the very edges people aren't really open

Seoul is kind of notorious for that, you're not the first to say that people from Seoul walk with a "Don't talk to me, get away from me, I'm in a hurry, I hate my life." expression on their face.

If I were to point at something distinctly Korean, I'd say it's something Koreans call "Jeong".

Odds are, you'll only find the positive definition of "Jeong" when you ask a Korean what it means or read about it. In it's nicest sense, it sort of means caring for and being sensitive to the needs of those who you've formed a bond with.

The flip side is that those who are not within your inner-circle/clique are viewed with complete indifference. So, the worst of people aren't going to give a crap about inconveniencing strangers (parking illegally, driving like an asshole, cutting in line etc.) because they're not part of their circle. This could explain why nobody wants to talk to or help strangers, Korea is a very cliquey society.


  • Mr C
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2020, 08:05:56 pm »
I traveled before in places like Costa Rica or Colombia, where if you look confused even for a couple of seconds, random people around you will approach and warmly ask if you need some help. Also it's pretty common to speak to locals to ask for restaurant or store recommendations, and people are more than happy to give you suggestions

But Korea is the complete opposite. Many times if you ask for help on the street (even in Korean), they will give you the death stare, make an x with their arms, shake their head, etc. I thought it was because they're afraid to speak with foreigners at first, but then my Korean SO also doesn't really ask for help, and has gotten rude reactions before when doing so. Why do people here react so unpleasantly?

I think we need more data before being able to answer.  Can you give, oh, four or five examples of the kind of help you and/or your Korean SO have asked for that have resulted in unpleasant responses?


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2020, 08:11:41 pm »
Many times if you ask for help on the street (even in Korean), they will give you the death stare, make an x with their arms, shake their head, etc. I thought it was because they're afraid to speak with foreigners

It seems you had the rare misfortune of asking the wrong person for directions, but donít take it to heart; oglop is like that with everybody. Your intuition was dead on, however.

But seriously, does your SO have any insights into it?
« Last Edit: November 23, 2020, 08:27:15 pm by Don Hobak »


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2020, 10:26:52 pm »
It seems you had the rare misfortune of asking the wrong person for directions, but donít take it to heart; oglop is like that with everybody. Your intuition was dead on, however.

But seriously, does your SO have any insights into it?
My SO just shrugs. She gets annoyed by these things as well, but she is probably well used to them by now as she grew up in Seoul

"donít take it to heart"
I wish, but it's easier said than done :((


  • stoat
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2020, 10:37:39 pm »
Just be thankful you don't live in the States where someone you ask directions from will probably be a gang member and pull a gun on you, or the UK where they'll be a football hooligan and hit you over the head with a bottle.


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2020, 04:45:19 am »
Just be thankful you don't live in the States where someone you ask directions from will probably be a gang member and pull a gun on you

Totally. Spoken like a guy with some real lived experience.

I was going to say at least theyíre not giving you well-intentioned bad directions, as seems to be the only other alternative when asking for help on the street in Korea.

The reluctance to help people extends far beyond the street however. Reticence to disclose helpful information often extends to people whose duty it is to disclose helpful information, like doctors and managers. My wife is almost pathologically adverse to engaging with strangers on the street. Donít get it and she would be hard pressed to explain it beyond, ďI donít want to bother them,Ē but I feel like it runs much deeper than that. That all said, I hardly think this trait is true of most Koreans, just more than you would expect in a random sample of the population.

But like stoat said, least they ainít poppin no cap in yo ass like they would in nearly every encounter with another human being from Alabama to Wyoming.


  • 303lmc
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2020, 07:32:12 am »
could it be that everyone is scared to death they will die from 'corona'?? I've never had any issues, but I usually try not to ask.


  • oglop
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2020, 07:34:40 am »
Just be thankful you don't live in the States where someone you ask directions from will probably be a gang member and pull a gun on you, or the UK where they'll be a football hooligan and hit you over the head with a bottle.
yeah, would you rather get shot in the head or just a little miffed that someone was rude? the entitlement in this thread. OP, do you really think people should get our of THEIR way to help YOU? people don't owe you anything OP

powered by DMô
« Last Edit: November 24, 2020, 07:45:06 am by oglop »


  • OnNut81
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2020, 08:00:14 am »
The OP said he is from a "massive" city in the N.E. US, so obviously NYC.  I've been to NYC quite a bit, my father worked directly across from the Chrysler Building for ten years and I found New York to be a much ruder city than I was used to in Toronto.  In Toronto, people kept to themselves a fair bit but New York was more aggressive.  As for Seoul, one of the things that was commonplace in my early years (doesn't happen as much now admittedly) was more often than not, if you were looking at a map in a Seoul subway station someone would come ask if they could help you.  It happened so much in my early days here that when I went to Japan and looked at a subway map in Tokyo's Ueno station, I assumed someone would ask if they could help me as I thought it was a North East Asian behaviour.  Not a single person ever offered to help in Japan.  I've had people go out of their way to ride with me to where I'm going on the Seoul subway to make sure I get to my destination.  So, I think most big cities people are wary about being stopped on the street but usually respond well once they figure out you're legitimately looking for directions and not asking for spare change.  Maybe not in Seoul, but there is certainly a flip side of people feeling confident enough to approach you with the intent of helping.  A little awkward when you don't need it and are just looking at the subway map to see where new lines are going, but, still, always appreciated. 


  • Kayos
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2020, 08:30:54 am »
I disagree about the help thing in Korea. I've had quite a few random strangers give me "above and beyond" levels of help in my time here.
My first experience in Korea, I'd just arrived, and was taking the bus, got off 1 stop too early and decided to walk to my hotel from there (only added like  5 - 10 mins walking time). The young lady that got off with me had her dad pick her up. When they started to see me walking, they gave me a ride right to the hotel.

I wouldn't even get that level of help back home, and if I was offered it, I'd probably assume they were doing something sketchy.


  • Kyndo
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2020, 09:03:58 am »
 Attractive people tend to attract more help.

Or at least, I assume that's true, as the one time I asked for directions in Spokane I wasn't immediately shot in the face.
And while I don't live in Seoul, I've found the folk in Daegu to be fairly accommodating.
 :smiley:


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2020, 09:28:22 am »
the one time I asked for directions in Spokane I wasn't immediately shot in the face.

You donít suppose that discreetly placed Crips tattoo over your trachea had anything to do with it?


  • tylerthegloob
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    more
Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2020, 09:41:06 am »
Attractive people tend to attract more help.

v true. when i first got off the plane in seoul some taxi ajjusshi started bothering me and i told him i dont need a taxi. then he asked if im looking for the train and he even helped me use the machine to get my AREX ticket. it pays to be beautiful  :angel:

jk im not beautiful, but that dude was super nice and he was pretty much the first korean i interacted with in korea
more gg more skill


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2020, 10:11:35 am »
I think another thing about Seoul and a lot of the bigger cities in Korea in general is that, because it isn't commonplace for strangers to approach each other for anything, there's a lot of suspicion about what your true motive could be. More times than not, whenever a stranger approaches me in Seoul, they're either trying to scam or they're hoping to recruit me into their cult, lol. If it's a man, he's usually (yes, 9x out of 10 usually) being a perv and trying to get me to sleep with him using one of several various methods, which I think is more of a unique situation for foreign women in Korea.

So now I'm always super cautious about people just randomly coming up to talk to me about anything, ESPECIALLY if it's for directions (this goes without saying since I'm a foreigner, but it's also a common scam tactic here to ask for directions before going into some kind of spiel about whatever their scam is). I always give them the benefit of the doubt first, though, and I don't just rudely brush them off until I know what they want, but I guess that might be the difference between big city folk and someone who grew up in a more moderate town.

With all that being said, a very old, very poorly woman who was pushing one of those grandmother carts full of cardboard (she was too frail to handle one of those bigger carts) once approached me asking me something. This was in my first year here, and I couldn't understand her at first, but she was very comfortable with me and kept asking me for help. So while I'm still fiddling around with the translation app to work on mic (old woman couldn't read), an adjusshi sees us and comes over. He's incredibly rude to her, and she immediately lets go of my arm and leaves. It broke my heart, I couldn't believe how mean he was to this frail old woman. At first I thought that maybe he thought she was trying to scam me or something? I dunno, but he didn't even try to find out what she wanted, just immediately said some shit to her that made her run off. Then this asshat asks me where I'm from and if I live alone, and I'm just like, wtf is wrong with you? I leave him and chase down the woman, and I finally get the translation app working so that she can speak into it, and I find out that all she wanted to know was what day of the week it was. I chatted with her a bit, offered to treat her to a meal but she rejected it. I think she was just happy that someone was willing to talk to her.

I wish that were a one-time thing, but there does seem to be something unspoken about not "bothering" others, hence why I feel like the old woman approached me instead of another Korean. She might have heard or thought that foreigners would be more open to her. Many people don't give a flying **** about those sort of rules, though, and they don't mind helping others as long as they don't feel like you're trying to scam them, but there are always assholes who'll use these unspoken rules as an excuse to be assholes.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2020, 10:40:02 am by Chinguetti »


  • plan b
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Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2020, 10:34:35 am »
Totally. Spoken like a guy with some real lived experience.

I was going to say at least theyíre not giving you well-intentioned bad directions, as seems to be the only other alternative when asking for help on the street in Korea.

The reluctance to help people extends far beyond the street however. Reticence to disclose helpful information often extends to people whose duty it is to disclose helpful information, like doctors and managers. My wife is almost pathologically adverse to engaging with strangers on the street. Donít get it and she would be hard pressed to explain it beyond, ďI donít want to bother them,Ē but I feel like it runs much deeper than that. That all said, I hardly think this trait is true of most Koreans, just more than you would expect in a random sample of the population.

But like stoat said, least they ainít poppin no cap in yo ass like they would in nearly every encounter with another human being from Alabama to Wyoming.

You had to make things political? Going off on Red states? Actually the folks from around those parts are some are the friendliest you can find. Way friendlier than more urban areas.


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2020, 10:35:07 am »
One thing is that people here don't believe you're entitled to help or charity, hence the utter lack of aggressive panhandling. You need to be able to pull your weight.

Also there's certain people that are considered as supposing to help you- police, street vendors, information desk, etc.


Re: People reacting rudely when you ask for help
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2020, 10:45:03 am »
You had to make things political? Going off on Red states? Actually the folks from around those parts are some are the friendliest you can find. Way friendlier than more urban areas.

I could be wrong, but it feels like they were both being tongue-in-cheek as a way of poking some fun at a couple of the other users here.