Korea - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Culture & Customs Paperback – Sep 5 2006
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Culture Smart! has come to the rescue of hapless travellers, Sunday Times Travel - ...the perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful and downright odd quirks and customs of various countries, Global Travel - ...full of fascinating, as well as common sense, tips to help you avoid embarrassing faux pas, Observer - ...as useful as they are entertaining, Easy Jet Magazine - ...offer glimpses into the psyche of a faraway world, New York Times.
About the Author
JAMES HOARE spent over thirty years in the British Diplomatic Service, with postings to Seoul and Beijing. His last job was Chargé D’Affaires in Pyongyang, North Korea, where he established the first-ever British Embassy. He has written numerous books and articles about East Asia, including Embassies in the East: The Story of the British and Their Embassies in China, Japan and Korea from 1859 to the Present (1999), and, with his wife, Susan Pares, Conflict in Korea: An Encyclopedia (1999).
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Seeing as how it is designed as an overview, you get more than your money's worth (less than ten bucks including shipping on [...]). Want to give a friend something to read on the airplane ride over before they meet you in Korea? This book fits the bill quite nicely.
I'm honestly surprised that this book gets over-shadowed by the "Lonely Planet" series. Ignore the hype and pick up this book.
South Koreans have progressed quite a bit since this book was first printed and I don't think the reprint really did too much editing. There are a lot of things that are inaccurate or over exaggerated. For instance flip flops, Koreans wear these very often and don't make comments to others who wear them. Drinking in groups of both men and women, again this happens quite often and doesn't seem to be a strange occurrence. The author also laments the fact that most of the deciduous forest have been wiped out. I'm not sure what country he visited, but all the hills around as far as the eye can see are covered in trees. Not reforested but native to the country. I'm not sure if he never left Seoul, but it might behove them to remove this particular comments as it doesn't apply.
Also bothersome was the Author's story about interfering in a domestic dispute. He contends that he should have just minded his own business and not tried to interfere. After all that is the country's culture and really who was he to intervene. So typical of an academic, care more about the keeping things pristine and allowing "nature" to flow than consider assisting another human being. His theory is flawed though. In the story he is obviously older than the instigator, as such, according to the culture, he had every right to intervene and attempt to assist as he is an elder and it is an age defined hierarchy. Just imagine if it was your daughter who was involved in such a situation, do you think the author is providing good advice in stating that we should just leave things alone, even if we know that another human being is possibly getting hurt? After all that's just the culture. At what point does human accountability fall by the way side or are we suppose to enable abuse and ill treatment?
It would behoove the publisher and the author to take another look at the country as it is now, not how it was 10 years ago. It might even help if they actually lived in the country for a while, instead of making generalizations from a brief visit and theory.
culture different from the USA and sometimes very different from other Asian countries is
important. As a guest in their country I wanted to present myself as well as I could.
This book helped me acculturate enough to get by and not insult the Korean populace we met
along the way.
Two big items jumped out at me when reading the book.
One is that Koreans do not use chop sticks to eat rice. It is considered gauche to do so. In any
eating establishment we entered, from roadside diner to elegant eatery we found chopsticks and
a spoon. The spoon is for the rice.
Another is how you exchange money or items with another person. You should use your right
hand to exchange items and not your left. This was a bit difficult as I am left handed. The people
I encountered either personally or at a business were very nice about my faux pas but I felt it
was important to try to respect the culture. After a while it came more naturally.
I found the part about not entering into a domestic dispute good advice. I am not so sure I would
do so even in this country without understanding my options first. To do so in a foreign country
where my language skills are limited, at best, means I would attempt to find other options than
direct intervention. Treading lightly in another culture is good advice, especially from someone
who has spent time in the diplomatic service.
Overall I found the book had a good brief history of the country, its culture and its mores. You
definitely want to supplement your reading with other books to corroborate and enhance your
understanding of the Land of Morning Calm.
I gave the book, purchased in 2010, 4 stars because it can use an update but provided a good
guide to traversing the beautiful Korean culture.
Two things I did like about this book in particular were the emphasis on business interactions (this could be really helpful if you are a Western business person visiting Korea) and I like how the author constantly explains about North Korean culture as well, it's not all focused on South Korea.