What Can Americans Learn from Koreans?

No two cultures in the world are the same. Further, even within a given country, cultures vary greatly depending on the location. People from California are quite different in their thinking than are those from the Northeast. As there is also a difference between the northern and southern hemispheres of the East Coast.

So to be in a place like Korea will show very stark differences in cultural norms. Ways of dealing with issues. Determining what is appropriate and inappropriate.

I’ve come to see that there are things that Korea Can Learn from America, and likewise, things America can learn from Korea. Being in Korea for over three years, I’ve seen some aspects of the culture here that make me envious as an American. Not so much in the ways of products and services, but rather in the ways Koreans think and handle day-to-day, interpersonal issues.

There are two sides to every coin though, and lessons can be learned from both sides. In this vlog I talk about those things I’ve come to learn that Americans can definitely learn from Koreans.


  1. Avatar world vagabond says:

    Hello Tom,

    About a week ago, I stumbled upon your blog while looking for a useful website for my daughter to learn the Korean language; Anyonghaseyo is the only Korean phrase she knows, and she was born and raised in the U.S. Since then, I have been enjoying reading your writing. Thank you for your time and effort.

    Let me briefly tell you about myself. I was born and raised in Korea. I went through the same Korean educational institutions as the others in my generation. So, I would consider myself 100% Korean. Now I’m living in the States. To resolve family issues, I immigrated to U.S. about 5 months ago. Even though sometimes I struggle, I have been attempting to assimilate into an American way of life.

    I feel like you and I are in the same boat ^^. You were born and grew up in the States but now are living in Korea. I was born and grew up in Korea but now am living in the States. On top of that, I’m about your age. I completely understand how hard it is for you to adapt to a Korea way of life.

    Thank you for bringing up your interesting points of view regarding what America can learn from Korea. In regard to Issue 3: Koreans have a typical image of average Americans are boisterous and slightly dumb. Let me be candid with you.

    Regarding an image of being boisterous. The second they land Incheon Airport, a large number of Americans (especially youngsters) including Westerners get to become “too overly confident.”- Please don’t get me wrong. I just want to talk about a general phenomenon or mentality. There is no doubt that the U.S. is the most powerful nation politically and economically, but that doesn’t mean they are granted the license to behave inappropriate ways in other countries. In addition, my observation and experience tell me that the vast majority of Westerners have deep inside “a superiority complex” against other cultures, practices, norms, and mores, etc. I don’t want call it “White Supremacy.” As a person who makes mistakes every single day, I don’t mean to bash them. However, when we think we are better than others, arrogance slowly creeps up on us, leading us to lose our peace of mind and to be unable to make wise judgments.

    Regarding an image of being dumb. If you go to a foreign country and don’t speak its language, your intellectual level nosedives and you can be reflected as a dumb person. Even though you can articulate your thoughts or ideas in sophisticated fashions in your mother tongue, you are abound to appear “stupid” in foreign countries. I’m struggling with the same issue here in the States.

    I hope I didn’t come off as too strong.

    Once again, I really appreciate your posting.

    • Hi, thanks so much for your insight. These are great and valid points. It’s no surprise that Americans have quite the reputation in places like Korea and Japan, particularly with the military personnel. Unfortunately, there are large numbers that do not fit into that negative image but they have to bear the burden of it nonetheless. English teachers at times come across the same way, but to a lesser degree. I see it myself. I can look at some individuals and their actions and know they could never act that way back home without being realigned. Yet, here they see themselves in the mirror as a rock star. I suppose if they aren’t hurting anyone, so be it. In some cases though, people do get hurt.

      Regarding the view of Americans as boisterous and dumb. In my video I was referring to other western cultures’ view of Americans, not actually Koreans. Other western cultures do view us as crude, rough around the edges, slightly uneducated, and so on. Not true in all cases, but that’s the way it goes.

      It takes a brave soul to migrate from another country to live in America. I know this from my mother/aunts point of view, as well as many other immigrants that continue to come from other countries today. It’s a constant challenge so I commend you for taking the leap.

      Thanks so much for your comments.

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