10 Things Koreans Discover When Visiting America

10 Things Koreans Discover When Visiting America

Although we live in an age of increasing globalization, there are certain cultural differences that persist across borders—it’s what makes traveling and exploring the world so interesting. Every year, millions of people visit America for business or recreation. In an average year, this group includes over 1 million Koreans! What do they find most intriguing or even slightly odd about America? Read on to discover 10 things that take Koreans by surprise when they visit the US.

1. Everyone says “thank you” for every little thing.

Especially in larger cities, Americans tend to use the phrase “thank you!’ on a frequent basis. For example, when a clerk hands over change at the store, the customer gives thanks. This isn’t the Korean way. It’s not that Koreans are impolite—far from it! It’s just that Korean cities tend to be even more densely populated than their US equivalents, and everything moves at a faster pace.

2. The buildings are so much shorter than those in Korea.

Most people in Korea live in high-rise apartments, reflecting the fact that space is at a premium. Of course there are very densely-populated areas in America and more rural spots in Korea, but as a rule, Koreans are more accustomed to living and working in buildings that are much taller than those in the average American town.


3. The portions seem huge.

America has an international reputation for serving large portions of food at restaurants and diners. Koreans, like many foreign visitors, are frequently surprised to discover how much value the typical American meal offers.

4. Students spend far fewer hours in school compared with Korean youngsters.

It isn’t uncommon for students to spend several hours more in school each day in Korea, compared with those in the American education system. In addition, students often attend after-school activities, like sports and or programs for learning additional languages.

5. American employees work fewer hours.

Americans work long hours—no doubt about it. However, Korea is notable for its “work hard, play hard” culture. On average, Koreans work 10–15% more hours per week than Americans. There is also a more ingrained culture of post-work socialization.


6. In America, cross-generational friendships and relationships between employees and managers are more common.

In general, Koreans consider it appropriate to stick to friends of one’s own age rather than those of other generations. Traditionally, there is a great sense of respect towards elders and those in higher-up positions at work. While a typical American employee may be on first-name terms with their line managers and may even consider them a friend, a Korean worker would refer to this person by their title instead.

7. The rules for showing cleavage are different.

Although too much cleavage is frowned upon in America, it is quite acceptable for women to show some in most social settings (within the realms of good taste and decency, of course). However, this would not be appropriate in Korea.

8. Tattoos and piercings are more common and acceptable in America.

Tattoos and piercings can be seen across most parts of the US, and are perceived as a means of self-expression. Koreans, however, are less likely to get inked or to wear body jewelry. This stems from a deeply-ingrained cultural difference. Traditionally, American culture has been more pro-individualism, whereas Korean culture has historically valued conformity and group harmony.


9. People say “Bless You!” when someone sneezes.

There is no equivalent of ‘Bless You!’ in Korea. In general, if someone sneezes, it isn’t considered a big deal.

10. Tipping is expected in America.

When eating out in an American restaurant, standard etiquette demands that you tip the wait staff 15–20%, depending on the quality of service received. This is novelty for Korean visitors—tipping is not a regular or expected phenomenon in their home country.

So if you ever find yourself talking to a Korean visitor, don’t be surprised if you discover some cultural differences! As long as everyone remains respectful of this diversity, such differences can only make the world a more fascinating place in which to live.


Featured photo credit: Unsplash/Pixabay via

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Jay Hill

Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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9 Harsh But True Illustrations that Show Our Changed Society

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Let’s face it.  We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no turning back. One of the biggest influences on society these days is social media. It affects us both positively and negatively. Social media was originally designed for people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more than what it intended to be. It is now a medium for information to pass around the globe. In many cases, people first learn about current events through Twitter or Facebook before hearing about them from conventional news sources.

We also rely on technology for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can’t go anywhere or do anything without their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.

However, there is also a downside to be too connected to social media and electronic devices. We are too dependent on them, which make us oblivious to what we are doing to ourselves. Being too connected can have a negative effect on our lives and the society as a whole. Here are 9 true illustrations that show how our society is negatively impacted because of the use of technology.

1. Facebook is eating away at your time.

Facebook is eating away your time

    How much time do you usually spend each day on Facebook or other social networking sites? Is it hindering your productivity? Do you find yourself wasting time to a point where you don’t even know where it goes? If the answer is yes, Facebook might have eaten away at your time.


    2. We’ve become “Likeaholics.”


      When you are posting something on Facebook, are you doing it just to see how many of your friends will give it the proverbial thumbs up? This illustration shows that some people are treating “Likes” on Facebook as if it was a drug they needed to inject into their bloodstreams.

      3. Our electronics have priority over our lives.


        Given a choice between your dying phone battery or you dying, which will you choose? In this case, the man in this illustration chose to charge his phone over to sustain his own life. As a society, we need to be more careful of our priorities.


        4. Families aren’t spending quality time together.

        mother baking

          Here is a mother making holiday cookies, but what are the kids doing? They are not making cookies with their mother. Instead, every one of them has their faces buried in their own electronic devices. Television used to be what parents use to babysit their kids. Now, it’s a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.

          5.  We’d rather record someone than help them.


            A lot is happening in this illustration. A black man is drowning and asking for help. One person has a gun pointed at him. The other person has their iPhone pointed at him and is recording the scene, but is not interested to help this man.


            6. Society is sleeping, it’s sleeping its life away.

            sleeping your life away

              Time is money. After we have wasted the long period of time on social media, we are losing the most valuable currency we have – our time in this world.

              7.  Despite all the technology we have, we still want what someone else has.

              wanting what someone else is having

                There’s an old saying that goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This illustration shows that despite all that we have, we are still not satisfied with our lives.


                8. Sensationalism still sells.

                free expression

                  With the information overload that exists today, the media still looks for sensationalism. Here’s a woman who feels she has something important to say, but the media only cares about her because she is naked. Would the news media still have microphones in front of her if she wasn’t standing there topless?

                  9. In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.

                  gun to mother earth

                    This last illustration argues that despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting the earth as if we have a virtual gun pointed at Mother Nature. As we build bigger cities and higher technology, how much more damages can we continue to do before putting our lives at risk?


                    Featured photo credit: Jens Johnsson via

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