Have you heard “K-SMILE” campaign running by the Seoul City Government? did you feel odd that South Korea actually need this kind of campaign? On April 17, the Korea Visit Committee hold a K-Smile Campaign event in Myeong-dong shopping district in preparation for the Spring Welcome Week for World Tourists. The purpose is to spread the culture of kindness of Korean people to every tourist who visit South Korea.
Despite of all the story inside Korea dramas who often portray many friendly Korean who continue show smiling gestures to other people or all your KPop idols who never gets tired give you smile in every fan meetings. The government of South Korea still think that Korean people need to be more friendly and kinder to other people.
Don’t get confused. The original Korean is not easily to smile with a stranger they meet on the street, even more first time meeting. Mostly they got suspicious and observe you from far away, when you are a foreigner. But when you see a friendly Korean say hi first, which is I can say 100:1 chance, likely that person is either a Gyopo (Korean who has foreign nationality) or Korean who had studied or lived abroad before.
Are they foreigner hater? The answer is “NO”, I believe they are kinda shy and hesitance to smile first or open a new conversation to a stranger. It is not Korean original culture to act first and being super friendly. The language barrier also one of the factor South Korean hold their act to talk to foreigner. What about Korean to Korean? Well, on my knowledge, Korean tends to get around only with their own click, like fellow alumni from the same schools, same office colleagues or people from the same neighborhood. They hardly think to mingle with others who are not in the same groups.
From my point of view, I like the way that Korean are always respect old relationship they had in spite of only mingle with their present friends. Though you might see them being cold toward foreigners, but once you become their friends, they will likely are the kind of people whom you would like to hangout with.
The K-Smile campaign is trying to show to the outside world, that Korean actually are a nation who are kind and likes to be friends with people from around the world. Just remember, there is saying,
“You cannot love people that you don’t know”.
If you happen to visit South Korea, why don’t you try to smile first, do not hesitate and make friends with the Korean. They are surely welcome you back.