Cheorwon / Culture / living / Lost in Translation / South Korea

Where did you learn to drive!?

Why is everyone in such a rush while driving and so lackadaisical while walking?

When walking down the road, Koreans tend to take their time and simply stroll at a (in my opinion) painfully slow pace. In short, they move like molasses. But put them in a car, and suddenly they are in the Indy 500, and nothing will slow them down.

Cars do stop at the traffic signals in Seoul and other large cities. However, in our town, the lights are kind of seen as suggestions. Usually the traffic lights are blinking yellow or red, but no one employs the four-way-stop rule that this would mean in the U.S.

If there is a steady stream of cars coming down the road and someone wishes to make a left turn, that driver will simply stick his or her arm out the window and start to ease the car into the lane until someone is forced to stop and let the car turn.

Pedestrians do not have the right of way here. Even if you are a student and you’re halfway across the intersection, prepare to back up when your own teacher turns into the school parking lot and lays on the horn to get you to move. It’s true, Matt’s seen it.

Maybe that answers my question of the slow walkers: Everyone’s just procrastinating the inevitable car face-off at the intersections.

Parking is often “creative” here as well. Because of this, many people get a sticker with their phone number on it to place on their front windshield. That way, if someone is blocked in, they can call the telephone number and ask the driver to move. This would not work in America for so many reasons!


2 thoughts on “Where did you learn to drive!?

  1. That is so funny.. are you guys going to remember how to drive when you get back? You won’t think American’s are such bad drivers after all (maybe Matt won’t have road rage any more…)

  2. That’s great! Amazing how big the differences can be sometimes. I always remember being shocked by the European style of the waiter and waitress in the restaurant, basically letting you sit there until YOU asked for the check. At first I thought it was rude, and then I realized it was just them giving you your time. In this case though, i’m not sure what to make of it!

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