Monday, 1 August 2011

Culture Affected by Military

Korean men are required to serve in military when reached to a certain age. Unless bearing a significant issue with your physical condition, it is his duty. When this was set up mandatory a few decades back, it was a more than a three-full-year service. That’s more than 36 months. It has reduced over the years, and now is less than 20 months. (I got in in 1998 and served for 26 months) Because a vast majority of Korean men goes through this experience, it is fair to say that we have a culture that has been inevitably and strongly affected by it. For example, if you are from North America, you will find Koreans have an extremely strict measure on the interaction between an older and a younger person. Some might think it is generally true in most Asian countries such as Japan and China. I lived in Japan for four years and I’ve been in close contact with many Chinese while living in Canada for the past ten years. They don’t come close in terms of strictness in this ‘age factor.’ It is natural to find an 8-the grader bowing from his waist up to a 9-th grader. If a year difference could make such a scene, it becomes a bit more complicated with a wider difference. This phenomena is definitely getting weaker as North American culture gets into every corner of our own. However, a norm built over decades will not fade away so easily. As a professional Korean translator, I run into a text every now and then that keep me conscious about this issue.

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