Sometimes, when I'm busy with work, I feel just like our President George W. Bush: I don't have time to read the papers, so I have someone else read them and then give me the gist. Courtesy Lost Nomad, I have discovered that Seoul ranked 32nd out of 35 on the list of most polite cities. Ahem, that would make Seoul the fourth rudest major metropolis, I suppose (fifth if you count the metropolis in the film Metropolis).
As others have mentioned at Lost Nomad's, there is certainly some cultural bias in the Reader's Digest survey, particularly in how they chose to measure politeness and hospitality. Seoulites screwed the pooch on the "door test" (whether anyone hold the door open for them), "document drops" (whether someone would help them retrieve a pile of dropped papers), and "service tests" (how many salesclerks would thank them for a purchase).
Now, had they had conducted a "walking-you-to-your-destination-when-you-ask-for-directions test," Seoul would have come out on top.
Let's face it, Seoul (and many other East Asian cities) run on a different dynamic than most North American cities. In Seoul, Hong Kong, and even Tokyo, you don't say "Excuse me," to every person you bump shoulders with. You'd never get anywhere!
Also, you don't say hello or nod to every person you walk past, which is how we do it in the Big Orange (frankly, it gets annoying).
Also, Seoulites tend not to mug people. That should count for something. Some of these "hospitable" cities are known for high crimes and misdemeanors; they should be impeached from the survey on that basis alone.
Poor Seoul. Our fair city digging new rivers and planting new parks right and left, but it just can't get a break.
Still, maybe this news will shame a few people into holding open the door next time (and I suspect that's why the Korean media is running with this). 30% is an abysmal rate.
A slightly (only slightly) tongue-in-cheek comment I wrote on this can be found here.
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