It is something I have only noticed from older men, and one woman who happens to be my vice principal. In other words, I have only noticed it in Senior Koreans. Since I haven’t lived in Japan or China yet, I have no idea if it happens there.
I’m in the lunch room, plate filled with my Korean food, on my way to the area where I always sit, when I pass a Senior. What happens? I am gestured to sit down and eat. No, not to sit down next to said senior, but sit down where I choose. Really?! I have his permission to sit down and eat the food that is already served on my plate, to sit down and eat the food that I paid for, to eat MY food, anywhere I choose?
I see them do this to students all the time.
I’m at the petrol station, parked and ready to fill up my little motor cycle, when the older guy working there comes out and calls me over to another pump, closer to the office where he emerged. Maybe that pump is dry, but I suspect he was just too lazy to walk five more steps.
Obediently I go over to the pump that is more convenient for him and park the bike. He opens the flap to open the petrol tank, just to see that he needs a key to open it. He does this while I’m taking the key out of the ignition. As I am moving the key to the tank cap, obviously intending to open it, he gestures to it, seemingly saying: “Sure, you may open it.” Really?! You are so kind, letting me open the petrol tank, letting you top me up and take my money, as your business is suppose to do.
This man has seen me here many times, but for some reason it is the first time he topped me up.
I freely admit that I might be missing a cultural component here, but I suspect it is the kind cultural component that I wouldn’t care for if I knew, the kind of cultural component that does not fit in to the Diverse Global Culture that is Korea. At one point I was thinking that it might be a language thing where the gesture represents something you would normally say, but then why do I only get this from Seniors, not from people who are my “equals”? Am I missing something? Can anyone help me out here?