Photography is a dangerous sport. The convenience of iphones cameras, and rapid access to wifi and social media platforms means that many of us can discretely snap or upload images of anonymous strangers while we travel, usually with little thought to the subject’s privacy or personal space. With the immediacy of twitter and apps such as Instagram, we can distribute street photos in a snap, without any thought to how this image may be culturally inappropriate or perhaps degrading to the local people.
Gangnam Style is stylistically or culturally grounded in Korean themes, and how it might be reflecting some of the social issues in modern Seoul life. Regardless of my own personal speculation and my loose contextualization, I would not encourage anybody to view ‘Gangnam Style’ too deeply or cynically. It is, after all, a catchy horse dance with a hypnotic beat. Let’s start dancing.
Until I arrived, and soon realized that due to my being female, I had to accept a more close-mouthed and less aggressive persona than what I would in my native Australia. To get as much out of my Korean experience as possible, I would have to behave the way that Korean women were taught to behave: to respect men, to not question men, to behave coyly in front of men, and to not act as though I were smarter than any man. This was a tough blow to my feminist ego.
As an Australian woman living in Korea, many people often ask me if it is hard to live in Seoul as a foreigner. When I initially moved to Korea three years ago, I might have answered “yes”. These days, however, after having interacted with Korean culture on a more substantial level, I feel like any social problems I may face in Korea are not related so much to my nationality or “foreignness”, so much as they are a result of my gender.
As a foreign woman who has lived in Korea for over three years, I have come to realize that getting plastic surgery in Korea is one of the fastest, most accessible, and most popular services in Korea. This comes as no shock, as South Korea is the highest ranked country in the world for plastic surgery, according to the New York Times.
SLG wants to answer your tough travel questions... whether you actually dont want to try those bamboo worms (and that's ok) or if you just want to understand how to make amends after committing a major cultural faux pas we are here for you. Are you planning a trip and need to know what to expect, or are you wondering how to be culturally sensitive? Meeting the extended international family for the first time? We have tips for you. Ask the Globe-Trotter is a column featuring our travelers in the field answering your toughest cultural questions from at home and abroad. Got a question for our pool of Globe Trotters? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Generally, if you listen closely, families are quite often relieved to have a new person in the house. This is because you can bring some new perspective on an old issue, or sometimes people are just enthusiastic to talk about their own customs with a clueless foreigner who is so new to the culture.