Every day when I step out of my apartment and embark on my walk into school, it’s like stepping into a video game; sometimes I am the winner, but other times I get pummeled along the way.
Most people consider walking to be a relatively easy and leisurely activity, but in Korea it’s a different story. I love the country and the people as a whole, but these people are crazy walkers.
I am sure you have all experienced those times when you are walking down the street and you end up doing a “dance” with another random person because neither of you can decide which way to walk, well it’s that sort of like that here, x100 and it happens on a daily basis.
The art of walking seems so easy to me I have never really questioned it before, but when you are in a culture that does it different then the norm, you really take “normal” walking for granted.
I usually walk on the right-hand side of the sidewalk, but here, there are no rules. People tend to walk in zig zag patterns and one can never anticipate when they will turn or change directions. (A lot of this has to do with the fact that they are obsessed with their cell phones and are constantly text messaging while they walk)
If the problem was only this bad it would not be that big of a deal, but when you enter the subway or a busy market, it’s a whole different story; a fight for your life.
You have to be on a mission when you enter a market in Korea, it’s no relaxing walk in the park. It’s hard to stop and look at something before someone either yells “Bali, Bali” (which means HURRY!) or just pushes and shoves you out of the way.
Much if this also has to do with the fact that Korea is the third most densely populated country in the world (48 million people). Think of it like this – In Canada, if you spread out all the people,there would be 3 people for every km², but in Korea, it’s 465 people for every km²…making it quite the busy place 🙂
This was a BIG adjustment for me when I first got here, in comparison to my relatively slow-paced life in Canada. Now, I have learned to hold my head high and pretend I am a huge football player, and make my presence known. It’s the only way to do it, or I would end up on the ground with millions of people walking over me. 🙂
The most dangerous walker of them all is older Korean women, who are called “Ajumas,” which basically translates into old woman (nice eh?) They look all innocent and sweet, but when you get in their way, they are a force not to be reckoned with.
Many a times on the subway I have been walking towards my train and I will feel a hand on my lower back pushing me to walk faster. At first I thought it was Adrian telling me to move out of the way, but no, it was a little old lady bulldozing me from behind. Ha! They are quite adamant and will not back down until you let them have their way. Quite shocking at first, but know it just makes me laugh.
So if you ever find yourself stumbling onto South Korean soil, count this as your warning! Hold your high head and embrace it for what it is…ridiculous!
Have a great day everyone! And remember, when you are walking today, think of how lucky you are not to have to fear for your life! Ha!