“Politeness wins the confidence of princes” - Chinese Proverb
I want to take this time to comment on the concept of politeness. People are people and kids are kids, but there seems to be a level of politeness in Korea that has surprised me.
I imagine it has to do with the hierarchical nature of the culture here. Each day as we walk past the guardhouse on the way to school, the guard stands, nods his head and says hello (in Korean, of course) to us. We smile, nod our heads, and say hello back (in Korean, of course). Each day as we get on the bus, the busdriver greets us, and we him. In class as students enter many of them say hello to me, and later say good-bye. During class when I hand papers back or they hand them in, custom dictates that two hands be used for the transaction as a sign of respect to me. (I've decided I know which students are American and which are Korean by home-culture by the way they turn in their papers.)
I enjoy the civility here in the greetings of bus drivers, cab drivers, shop keepers, and students. It is not something I expected. My preconceived notions had to do with large cities with lots of people bumping into each other and not saying excuse me. While this is true, I've found that in general, the Korean people are quite polite and good-natured.
All of this sounds wonderful, of course, until you see the driving. . . but that is a story for another day.