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  • Sagi Keun
  • Adventurer

    • 68

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles
Small talk with strangers in Korea
« on: August 03, 2021, 10:48:03 pm »

In the west .. I can talk to just about anyone, at any time, even if I have not met them before.

I mean I can walk into the corner shop and make small talk with the shop attendant. Or make some comment about the weather to whoever is sat next to me at the bus stop. Or whatever. Just innocent, friendly small talk in the moment.


But try to talk to a Korean and they look at you in shock, as if you were a giant rat.


Even if you are using Korean. Even simply asking directions, they often totally ignore you. It does not surprise me that Korea was recently voted the most foreign experience possible for western travelers.




Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2021, 11:16:46 pm »
You are wrong. Stop with the lies. 28 years in and I have hardly come across what you say. You are  ****** bull-shitter in my humble opinion or... a mean troll.


  • Sagi Keun
  • Adventurer

    • 68

    • May 10, 2018, 11:47:23 am
    • Los Angeles
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2021, 11:31:40 pm »
You are wrong. Stop with the lies. 28 years in and I have hardly come across what you say. You are  ****** bull-shitter in my humble opinion or... a mean troll.



Koreans are cold.

Source: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_TT_Competitiveness_Report_2013.pdf
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/03/21/a-fascinating-map-of-countries-color-coded-by-their-openness-to-foreigners/


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2680

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
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Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2021, 11:37:47 pm »
You are wrong. Stop with the lies...
You are proving his point.

I have only been here 19 years. And I 'get' what he's trying to talk about. Strangers don't chat with strangers in this country. Waiting at a bus stop or in line in a supermarket is a dystopian desert of conversation compared to back home. Seriously.


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2021, 11:45:29 pm »
No I'm not proving his point, I 've had just as many chats at the bus stop, in the street, or the supermarket lines as I have back in NZ. Koreans do chat! Koreans, on the whole like to chat  and shoot the small shit. This is my honest experience. Maybe I have a kind manner, I don't know! Again, shame on you!

Edit: or people really do like to shit all over Koreans for the smallest of reasons.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2021, 12:22:15 pm by Kurt Sorensen »


  • VanIslander
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 2680

    • June 02, 2011, 10:12:19 am
    • Seogwipo, Jeju Island
    more
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2021, 01:00:49 am »
Culture varies.

In Korea, once you are introduced to someone, then you matter: ie., there are social responsibilities. In fact, relationship bonds are incredibly strong once formed.

This ain't back home. And we aren't judging  individuals. It's just a different society in terms of the nature of relationships.

Back home I can yap with someone a dozen times without they feeling an iota of responsibility to help me out; here, once introduced, you can count on them totally.


  • Liechtenstein
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1659

    • February 15, 2019, 04:39:00 pm
    • NE Hemisphere
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2021, 08:32:09 am »
I thought the Koreans where I lived were friendly and amiable. I tried my best to speak Korean to them, as shitty as it was, and they tried to speak a bit of English. I found younger kids, primary, and adults the easiest to try and engage with. Teenagers....wellll ll...does anyone really like teenagers???

Caveat, I lived in a very small town predominantly populated with farmers, fishermen and mom n pop shop owners.

I found big city Koreans to be quite the opposite.

That Kurt guy sounds a bit wound up hahahahahahahaha


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2021, 10:38:50 am »
There's definitely a rural vs. urban divide on this. Also, depends on age.

Also, your reaction will vary depending on your Korean skill, mannerisms, posture, etc.

If you sound awkward and don't follow norms, you probably will get a poor result.

Picture some random foreigner in awful English saying random and awkward stuff to you out of the blue back home at a bus stop.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 10:52:30 am by Mr.DeMartino »


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2021, 11:51:03 am »
Dont like small talk, but Ive had old dudes randomly ask me if I know Dokdo.

Its an extinct bird, right???


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2021, 01:14:33 pm »
I'm honestly thankful for the lack of small talk. Especially given that I was from the Midwestern United States. Small talk is trash. I don't wanna may small talk with randos... especially back home in the Midwestern U.S. Especially when you're a white man... it is almost assumed by some folks that they can share their racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. ideals and that you'll share them since you're a white man. It's gross, annoying, and usually led me to more arguments than anything. Just let me sit here by myself, drink my coffee, eat my meal, read a book and/or stare at my phone in peace.


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2021, 01:28:37 pm »
I'm honestly thankful for the lack of small talk. Especially given that I was from the Midwestern United States. Small talk is trash. I don't wanna may small talk with randos... especially back home in the Midwestern U.S. Especially when you're a white man... it is almost assumed by some folks that they can share their racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. ideals and that you'll share them since you're a white man. It's gross, annoying, and usually led me to more arguments than anything. Just let me sit here by myself, drink my coffee, eat my meal, read a book and/or stare at my phone in peace.

They identified as black, lesbian women. So it's aight, dawggy dawg.

I identify as a piece of kimchi, and boy howdy do I get upset when people tell me kimchi stinks. :(


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2021, 03:58:18 pm »
With some of these, I do think pics of yourself should be included as well as details about basic hygeine, maybe a recording of how you speaking Korean. For example, OP could be dressed immaculately and handsome, but their Korean could be wretched. Or their Korean could be immaculate but they look like they just crawled out of Skid Row. Also, who exactly are you talking to? Most people under 40 are in their phones and Korean or foreigner, have really limited interest in talking to random people ("Like, hello, can't you tell I'm BUSY right now). Same with people during rush hour in the city. On the other hand, 60 year old Koreans out on a day's stroll in Nowhere-eup or Old Market-dong will often be happy to chat, with you or with other Koreans.

Finally there's how people are when they go about it. Some people seem to treat small-talk as a demand for you to pay attention them and bask in their glory. Or to leer at people. Your time is their time. Like how someone mentioned with small talk being little more than an excuse to let them spew their racist nonsense (Bill Burr talks about it- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8b81UM74Ow). You momentarily acknowledge them and for the next 10 minutes you have to listen to how DC is better than Marvel or why the Jews/Blacks/Muslims/Latinos/Asians/White People are ruining everything.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 05:26:13 pm by Mr.DeMartino »


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2021, 06:00:04 pm »
Maybe a lot of people donít do small talk in Korea because there is an increase in religious cults and other con artists out there on the streets trying to con people out of their money.


  • leaponover
  • Expert Waygook

    • 780

    • March 05, 2012, 12:08:16 pm
    • Iksan, S. Korea
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2021, 07:33:51 pm »
In the west .. I can talk to just about anyone, at any time, even if I have not met them before.

I mean I can walk into the corner shop and make small talk with the shop attendant. Or make some comment about the weather to whoever is sat next to me at the bus stop. Or whatever. Just innocent, friendly small talk in the moment.


But try to talk to a Korean and they look at you in shock, as if you were a giant rat.


Even if you are using Korean. Even simply asking directions, they often totally ignore you. It does not surprise me that Korea was recently voted the most foreign experience possible for western travelers.




You can, but I doubt you did.


  • pkjh
  • The Legend

    • 2144

    • May 02, 2012, 02:59:44 pm
    • Asia
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2021, 10:13:58 pm »
Language barrier. I've seen my ct chat with random Koreans while just standing. But they never chat with me, well probably because they assume I can't speak Korean well. And they'd be right.


  • Liechtenstein
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1659

    • February 15, 2019, 04:39:00 pm
    • NE Hemisphere
Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2021, 09:23:30 am »
How many "heads-down" people staring at their phones are truly busy? I'm guessing it's a fraction (small) of 1%.


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2021, 04:57:55 pm »
I found that when random Koreans came up to me on the street or on the subway and started talking to me in English, 100% of the time they'd be in a religious cult. "Hello, nice to meet you, where are you from, DO YOU KNOW JESUS?"

Anyway talking to strangers is a very American thing. Here in New Zealand people don't do it, if you do it they think you're crazy.


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2021, 05:21:05 pm »
How many "heads-down" people staring at their phones are truly busy? I'm guessing it's a fraction (small) of 1%.
Oh most certainly many of them are "busy" with their Instagram or Kakao or whatever, but they certainly feel busy and bothered if you try to get them off their phone.


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2021, 07:59:16 pm »

Yeah, I was Liechtenstein. I was very wound up. Had good reason from another post and the same posters.
Anyway, I've lived in a rural setting for most of my life in Korea. Rural people chat! Simple as that.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2021, 08:04:16 pm by Kurt Sorensen »


Re: Small talk with strangers in Korea
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2021, 08:16:25 pm »
Anyway talking to strangers is a very American thing. Here in New Zealand people don't do it, if you do it they think you're crazy.

Sorry, disagree. Small talk with strangers was part of all our lives growing up in NZ. I've been away for 28 years, so may be the landscape has changed. But this was part of the culture, atleast in the South Island (again faily rural), and you can't compare it to  the North.