Korea Matters #4: Lawsuits

(This post is part of the “Looking Past Korea” Series, my general wrap up on Korean culture.  So far I’ve gone over superficial differences of Korea and cultural aspects that I think are over rated by foreigners.  In this part I talk about the things that I think make Korea unique and different to Western Culture)

Undercooked meat and an open grill…my favorite type of restaurant.

I think of it every time I enter a kalbi restaurant. This type of restaurant could never fly in the States, the lawsuit potential is just too high. But somehow people in Korea manage and somehow children who can’t walk more than 3 steps without falling over on the street are suddenly gymnasts.

While The United States is lawsuit crazy Korea generally avoids lawsuits. They exist, but the culture has more of a “at your own risk” nature.  It speaks to an idiosyncrasy in Korean culture where a person may not be independent when it comes to societal roles yet will not accept the help or payment of others when it is needed or deserved.

Buy some crappy merchandise? Should have been more careful.

Get hit by a car? Should have looked both ways.

Get harassed and punched by a drunk old man? Should have been older than him.

I’ve never been a fan of America’s lawsuit culture. I hate ambulance chasers and will never support John Edwards for the sole fact that he made his money from a rich family and lawsuits. I just can’t respect that.

Settlements are popular in Korea as many people avoid the stigma that legal actions bring by simply buying off their would-be accusers. At least money is still in charge, that much hasn’t changed. The downside is that many things that probably should be changed or fixed don’t get the proper legal action it deserves; like taxis that constantly run red lights.

I bet that somewhere between money and a good old fashioned whoop ass there is a decent middle ground.

Also, I bet that just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean some Korean child hasn’t face planted directly into the middle of a kalbi grill. Too bad, I really like kalbi.


Filed under Culture

3 responses to “Korea Matters #4: Lawsuits

  1. naarah

    good points. i love your posts.

    btw..there are kalbi restaurants in the U.S.

  2. thanks for the compliment

    I had heard there are kalbi restaurants in the states, but either they’re few and far between or I just haven’t been noticing them.

    I wonder what the insurance rates are like for them?

  3. Hey there, just found your blog today while perusing the Seoul-blogosphere. I appreciate your candor with this series, I’ve come to a lot of the same conclusions myself since I’ve been in Korea.

    One environment that boggles my mind here is the Jimjibang . I spent a weekend backpacking in Busan with a friend; in four days we spent less than 35,000 won by staying at jimjibangs. These public saunas have to be the single most culturally specific thing I’ve encountered so far in Korea. Simply put, they would never fly in the legal culture of North America. Open 24hrs a day, they’re mostly unsupervised, sauna rooms that approach 90 degrees (steam and dry) and on weekends they become the replacement for the couch of your friend who lives closest to the bar district.

    To be honest I appreciate the ‘at your own risk’ culture here. Much less of a sense of entitlement and deserving something. I reckon it’s a direct result of Confucianism. I think it makes things feel more real; you’re responsible for yourself rather than putting blame on a proprietor.


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