Tuesday, May 29, 2012


It's very common to see people of the same sex walking hand in hand down the streets of Korea. Not because they love each other romantically, but because this is a strong show of friendship. In my time here, I've seen many "strange" sights.

On the bus, when there's not enough seats, the highschoolers will often let each other sit on their laps during the long ride. Girls... and boys. Some of the seats are so small, that you'd have to be pretty good friends with that person to ride so closely to them for longer than 5 minutes. It looks cute, actually, but a bit surprising and funny all the same. Perhaps it looks funny to other Korean people as well. I once overheard some older high school boys comment about their friends, saying they looked like a couple. One boy sat comfortably in the bus seat, his arm stretched out to grab the seat in front of him. His guy friend sat, cradled, in his lap. There wasn't really any other way for him to sit, and he rested his head against the window as they talked about whatever it was they talked about. The girls do this too.

Then of course, there's the girls who walk arm in arm down the street. The BFFs who are not hard to spot. One usually guides the other down the sidewalk, steering her friend with the arm she's captured. Sometimes, they stroll leisurely arm in arm. I've seen this done with all ages, though usually the younger children are busy running off somewhere and shouting at their friends to follow behind.

The real sight is watching the grandfathers walk like this down the street. Maybe after sharing several drinks, or just because they have a lot to say to each other, it doesn't matter what time of day, they can be seen. Of course, I think this is more prominent among the elderly once they've had a few drinks. The younger men (off to party or whatever) sometimes lock arms, steer each other, or just jostle about amiably as they hustle down the street.

The thing is, this is normal, but there is also a time and place for it. I'm not trying to say that Korean people only walk around when they are locked arm in arm, or hand in hand. This is not true. What I'm making note of is the strong bond of friendship, the meaning and acceptance of this kind of contact among friends. IT's quite amazing.

In America, I think the closest butch guys would come to showing this kind of affection would be trying to jump each other, wrapping an arm around the other's neck, or just plain being rowdy. People do that here as well, but it seems like there's more ways to express friendship here than I've noticed in the States.

...Or something like that.

'Til next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment