The fundamental difference between Koreans and westerners? I finally figured it out. Now, in retrospect, it all seems so simple.
The fundamental difference between Koreans and westerners is this:
While standing on a subway with friends, westerners will typically form a circle and talk with one another. Koreans on the other hand will generally keep quiet on a subway, usually standing in a way that does not reveal who is part of their group of friends.
However, on a sidewalk Koreans will form circles with their friends, take up the entire sidewalk and block my path to the subway where I will stand in a circle with my friends. Westerners tend to walk on sidewalks. At least until they are blocked by said Koreans.
My theory can be explained simply, as such
Subway = transportation
Sidewalk = gathering place
Subway = gathering place that happens to transport you somewhere
Sidewalk = transportation
I feel that if someone extrapolated this singular difference enough they could use it to explain many more differences. The same way the argument could be made that all modern pop music can somehow trace it’s roots to The Beatles – “Revolver” album, I would make a similar claim that all of the cultural differences between Koreans and westerners spew forth from this simple observation.