More Impressions

Earlier, I wrote about some of our first impressions of the culture here in Seoul. Here are a couple more …

Seoul is a safe city. Seoul, with its population of 10.3 million people, is the 5th largest city in the world. Even so, it has a very low crime rate. says, “Seoul is known to be one of the safest places to travel in with its low crime rate.” Of course, while no place is completely safe, the U.S. Department of State also reports that Seoul has a low crime rate.

It looks like you don’t have to say, “Excuse me,” here. Every culture has its own social interaction rules. Yesterday, I held the door open for a young couple that was behind us (as I would normally do) and, gaging by the look on their faces, they didn’t know what to think.

But the most obvious thing we’ve noticed is that people bump into each other all the time and don’t say anything (BTW, Joleen discovered this in Manilla, Philippines nearly 20 years ago). We’re used to people saying, “Excuse me,” or “I’m sorry,” when they bump into people. Of course, because we don’t speak Korean, we really wouldn’t know what they said, but I don’t think they say anything. It’s simply part of the culture. It’s actually kind of cool — you can run into people anytime and not feel bad about it. 😆

I now realize why a fight didn’t break out at the Incheon Airport in Seoul as we were heading out to find our bus to our drop-off point. A young woman, driving a luggage cart, bumped the foot of another young woman in front of her, who was also pushing a luggage cart. Ouch!

They hardly even flinched. The woman that I expected to be injured just looked down at her foot to see what happened, as she kept going forward. The woman who bumped the other woman, backed off a little, but neither of them said anything or even looked at each other.

Speaking of reckless driving, we could make an observation about the driving in Seoul, but I think reckless driving is pretty universal, especially in major cities.)

I’m sure we’ll continue to make other observations about the culture here. And in the coming days, we should be able to experience the culture of part of the Church here. We’re looking forward to that, and to what we will learn from them!

6 thoughts on “More Impressions”

  1. It sounds like you guys are getting a lot of cultural experience. Is Monday getting closer? Thanks for sharing all your experiences with us over here. It is almost like we are there with you, but sitting at a computer in a “warm” room.
    Love and Prayers, Leah and family

  2. Thanks, Leah!

    Yes, Monday is getting closer!

    But, you know, it’s really hard for us to keep track of what day it is because of the time difference. We lost 14 hours when we got here (Seoul is 14 hours ahead of the Eastern US). It’s hard to believe it’s Saturday morning here, already!

  3. Good Morning. Tomorrow can’t come fast enough I’ll bet…Very, very exciting to read. After being in Okinawa in the past the people bumping and pushing sounded familiar and also in a big hurry. Can’t wait to hear about the food. Also about your son Ethan. By the way Randy, Malcolm came through his procedure in fine shape thanks to many prayers. Keep having fun!

  4. Hi Joleen and Randy,
    We just had a chance to read your blog and are thrilled to hear about your trip and experiences so far – thank you for sharing it with all of us back home who are so excited for you and are holding you in prayer.
    God Bless you and Ethan,
    Jean and Dave

  5. One cultural thing I couldn’t get over while in Seoul was that so many people speak and understand English but were reluctant to use it with me because I was a native speaker…although they understood me, I’d often just get silent shrugs.

  6. Hi,
    Monday is on its way.
    As for bumping into people. With 10 million plus in one city, I think you would be doing a lot of bumping. Maybe when you bump into someone, they consider that a handshake or a wave of hello. Your blog is like a Jesus’s classroom, it teaches us that we are all God’s people.
    I can’t wait for you new installment.


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