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What is the True Culture of Korea?

Kate Suh from Korea

The traditional customs of Korea were affected by foreign cultures in many aspects of life. That meant that the whole lifestylefrom food and clothes to architecture and ways of thinkingtotally changed.

 


Before the Korean War, at the end of the 18th century, Korean people customarily considered life as a river which flows slowly without changing. People enjoyed talking about beautiful appealing mountains in our country, a small stream in front of a house, birds sitting in a big yard, and red-colored falling leaves over dinner. People didn't worry about their present, getting a job, competition, success, or even their future.

Although it was a hierarchical society, nobody complained about their social position or promotion, and they accepted every life as a natural destiny. It was not an endurance of stressful life, but a satisfaction with a peaceful life.

However, after the Korean War in 1945, everything changed very fast. The traditional customs of Korea were affected by foreign cultures in many aspects of life. That meant that the whole lifestylefrom food and clothes to architecture and ways of thinkingtotally changed. As a result of the dominance of other cultures, life in our big cities became indescribably busy and crowded and polluted by cars and factories.

 

They prefer imported things such as rock and roll, pop music, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, T-shirts, blue jeans, even the Back Street Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aquilera over things from their own culture.


So, now it is hard to see people greeting each other with smiles, talking about natural beauty, celebrating a neighbor' anniversary, or enjoying dinner slowly. One of the most surprising changes can be found in young people, some of whom even hate their own traditional foodkimchi. They prefer imported things such as rock and roll, pop music, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, T-shirts, blue jeans, even the Back Street Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aquilera over things from their own culture. They really want to accept the new concepts and the new life styles of other countries.

In response to these phenomena, there are various voices in Korea. One is strongly for protection from the dominance of other cultures; another is for total acceptance of the new culture. Still others show no interest and pay no attention to cultural dominance. But, the most influential group of voices is the one which insists people have the responsibility to keep their own traditions even though they want to enjoy new culture.

...the most influential group of voices is the one which insists people have the responsibility to keep their own traditions even though they want to enjoy new culture.

 


Today, there are a lot of teenagers who don't know what the traditional culture is. What the truly valuable customs in Korea are is still a controversial subject. My preferring cereal over kimchi for breakfast doesn't provide an explanation for this phenomenon, but it is obvious that many young people have lost their own national identity because of cultural dominance.

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