Korea's Bbali-Bbali Culture
One of my students in Academic English this semester is writing on the rise of Korea's hurry-hurry (bbali-bbali) culture. I suggested that she find some citable evidence of a time when Koreans moved slowly, with no rush about getting things done, and she's probably done so by now, but I came across a helpful passage that she might wish to cite:
Foreigners who came to Korea in the early 20th century . . . complained about the intolerably slow tempo of the Korean people, who always seemed to be leisurely strolling, smoking a long bamboo pipe. Today, however, Koreans are astoundingly fast and dynamic.That's from an article by Seoul National University Professor Kim Seong-kon, "A land of mystery, contradictions, logical fallacies" (Korea Herald, May 29, 2012). I've borrowed the photograph from a different source, an article by Robert Neff, "Tobacco and Korea" (10 Magazine, November 30, 2010).
I know Mr. Neff, having shared a few beers with him, and I suspect that he might even have written something on Korea's hurry-hurry culture and how it developed. The photo borrowed from his article dates to 1953, and the place was Pusan (now Busan), which is not quite the early 20th century, but that old fellow with the pipe still doesn't appear to be in any hurry. Now, he might have been tired because of the Korean War, which was dragging to its end in 1953, or he might have been a throwback to the earlier time remarked upon by Professor Kim, or Koreans in 1953 might still have preferred a slow tempo.
Having grown up in an agricultural region myself and made my particular transition to an urban life, gradually increasing my own tempo in the process, I'm guessing that this slow tempo may have characterized Korea not only up to the early twentieth century but also up to the time that Koreans abruptly moved from the countryside to the cities, which likely came with Korea's economic 'miracle' under the dictator Park Chung-hee, which started in the 1960s, and that Koreans started moving quickly at that time.
I'll have to see what my student uncovers . . .