Thank you very much

One of the things that takes getting used to, in terms of interacting with Korean people, is their tendency to offer thanks or apologies for things that they are involved with in only the most abstract of collective ways. Two examples spring instantly to mind. The first is the reaction by ROK government officials to the Virginia Tech shootings. The second is the reaction of my Korean language teacher to any praise of things Korean. Do you like doenjang? She will express her thanks, despite the fact that you are not praising her doenjang, and she does not even know how to make it. Do you find the countryside in Gangwondo particularly beautiful? She will be grateful. And on and on. This is not isolated to this particular person, although it may be isolated to Koreans with limited interactions with non-Koreans, or to Koreans with a particularly strong sense of identification with the national/ethnic collective. I have met many Koreans who do not do this, so it is hardly a universal phenomenon, but it is striking when it occurs. I have decided that I shall from now on take credit (which, of course, is not what they are doing, I’m just being a dick) for the mass-produced automobile.

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