Cathy’s Corner

From our archives, Compass Magazine, Aug. 2002:

Translated by Cheryl Robbins

After the end of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the world seems to have suddenly become quiet. Friends no longer meet up in pubs to watch the games and office chatter has returned to the topic of best way to lose weight. Although Brazil’s win came without the violence of other World Cup finals, it was not enough to dampen doubts about the fairness of the referees and the dissatisfaction with host South Korea.

When hearing criticism of South Korea from around the world, I am reminded of that country’s strong national character. For example, South Korea went from being very poor to one of Asia’s major economies. During that period, there were serious penalties for selling Japanese music in South Korea. Taiwan, by comparison, seems to have developed a stronger affinity for Japanese culture, even though there is also a “deep historical relationship” between Taiwan and Japan.

The year that the whole world was captivated by the movie “Titanic”, the South Korean government called for its citizens to boycott foreign films to stem the flow of currency outside the country. Thus, many people in South Korea did not succumb to the media hype and stayed away from the movie theaters. I really admire this patriotism. However, in the few short weeks it took to complete the World Cup, people obtained a less flattering view of South Korea.

But, for those living outside South Korea, this image does not have much impact. This brings me to another point. When you are in another country, it is important to be observant and to have an international outlook. For example, Japanese who are used to slurping their noodles will find that in England they are the loudest ones in a restaurant and, as a result, will receive unwanted stares. It is important to follow the customs of the country you are in so that, no matter where you go, people will think that you have manners.

There is one advertisement that I like very much. It explains that the same color, body language and gesture can have very different meanings in different countries. If you have the chance to travel, you will find that learning about other cultures changes you in the process. However, no matter where you go, respect yourself and the whole world will respect you, too.

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Written by taiwanfun


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Cathy’s Corner