Saturday, May 19, 2007


When I lived in the UK I thought salespeople could be pushy. The moment you entered certain stores you could see them head in your direction and you'd have to fend them off with a well worn "we're just browsing thank you". In Korea, not only do salespeople descend on you rapidly, but there's a whole ritual to the entry. The moment you walk though the door you're greeted with "어서 오세요" (come in quickly), to which you may reply "네" (yes). The salesperson will usually give you a few seconds but the moment you glance at your first item, they're likely to be beside you, asking more about what you are looking for. When you leave, it's with a "안녕히 가세요" (go and have a safe journey) to which you'd normally reply "수고하세요" (keep up the good work).

Many shops in Korea are small. A few are incredibly small in fact - you might fit four or five customers into them. So when we walked into a small Korean clothes shop today it was especially noticeable that not only did the sole assistant not greet us, but she quickly turned her back towards us and began organising some items. I realised how Korea was changing my attitude - I would have been happy to be left alone back home but I guess I've been here long enough for it to feel almost rude. My wife felt the awkwardness even more and we quickly left. I think I'm being assimilated.


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