DISRESPECT YOUR ELDERS.

Were you brought up, and instructed to “respect your elders”? Well yeah, so was I…and although this phrase sounds a little Star Wars-ish, once you get past that, it is for the most part a sound bit of advice. After all with age, comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom (most of the time)…why would I want to make my own mistakes, when someone who has been there done that, can advise me against them? It’s common sense, right?!

What are not so common, are these super-rare dance moves:

Old People Rock GIF

YOU’RE WELCOME!

Anyway, now the reason I am rambling on this topic, is that I have found in South Korea they have the same ethos…except it is, for want of a better phrase…out of fucking control! In this land you must respect your elders, but continue to do so even when they continually show YOU, or anyone else aggressive disrespect. You, and the rest of the onlookers must just remain silent, or possibly nod – and/or apologise if the aggressor demands you to do so. Odd, right? 

I’ll give you a couple of examples…alright firstly, whenever I am walking around with a Korean friend (who has the misfortune of being female)  it is not a rare occurrence for evil death glares to  be shot our way by senior citizens. Uncomfortable, sure…but I smile back politely, and try to remember my Jedi training. My issue is with them coming over, and screaming at my friend for even sitting next to me…calling her a slut, and other things that I can’t translate, but which are probably worse. I mean respect your elders – sure…but how do I respect that kind of behaviour? 

No one intervenes…and tells them they are out of line…they just look down, and think “they’re old, so it’s okay.” Well patently – it is NOT okay. 

Oh, and here’s another one! Just this past weekend – I walked past a few old guys, who jabbered something angrily in my direction…again, as usual, I just smiled at them, nodded politely, and carried on. Before long I heard the jabbering again, this time it was a lot more agitated – I didn’t turn around straight away, just moved along nicely…but then when I did eventually look, I saw that one of them was running after me with a crazed vigor – he may as well have been foaming at the mouth. I wasn’t particularly scared – what was he going to do, chew my leg with his three remaining teeth? But my friend urged me into the crowd of the market, and said it isn’t the done thing to deal directly in that way. So I entered the bustle, and foul smells of the little stores….still, I heard him getting closer. I felt someone grab my shoulder, and spun around – he started pushing, and shoving – swearing at me in Korean…

Again, no one intervened…to tell him he was out of line…they just looked down, and probably thought “he’s old, so it’s okay.”

Funnily enough from what I could gather, and what was told to be later – he was complaining that I had shown him a lack of respect, as he had said “hello”, and I had ignored him completely, (bullshit). He began pushing again – my face was so red with rage, I thought I was going to explode. Thankfully my friend apologised despite no wrongdoing, and pushed me into a back street…he followed for a while, still ranting, and raving…but after a while my aggressor gave up, and returned to his pensioner friends. Probably to tell them how people have no respect for their elders these days, oh the bitter irony. 

Crazy Cat Lady GIF

This is so commonplace  – it’s a cultural flaw, really. It’s so bad, that it is now a huge stereotype – and consequently rude Korean grannies become the butt of jokes (when they’re not around of course!) I know you can’t lump everyone in the same category, and that is never my intention – it’s just something I couldn’t help but recognise; that got me thinking about respect, and whether it should be expected...or earned.

So what do you think? Have I got it all wrong? 

www.facebook.com/storytimewithjohn

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61 thoughts on “DISRESPECT YOUR ELDERS.

  1. Respecting someone does not contradict defending friends or rebuking insult. Obviously our depends how you do it. Dang Korea takes elder worship to extreme. That’s why past just respect.

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  2. I’ve noticed it happens in most Asian countries- i don’t know what to do without sounding rude usually so I just walk on :/ great post!

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  3. I’m assuming you aren’t Korean I can’t really tell but I’m going off on that.

    I think you are in the wrong if you knew it was customary to return a greeting, even though it isn’t your culture if your in the country you should follow the same guidelines as everybody else.

    Also, I think the old guy was in the wrong he shouldn’t of lost his shit considering that you may not of known and are a foreigner. To me thats on the same levels when people get mad that they accommodate foreigners by translating in different languages such as Spanish. It takes time to learn, and know the ways of the people I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, no! I’m not Korean. But I’ve been here a little while now ~ lovely country.

      I smiled AT him, as I didn’t have a clue what he said, it was gargled and odd sounding (by the way thank you for pointing that out I’ll try and make it more clear in an edit 🙂 )

      It’s just a part of the culture, unfortunately ~ I was just hoping it would open up a broader conversation about age, and respect.

      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s cool! I maybe visiting there in a couple of months anything you recommend on seeing?

        I understand the point you were making and its valid respect goes both ways, my dad is originally from Ethiopia and it was much the same way you described Korea. He had to tolerate the same abuses from the elderly daily, until one day one of the younger generations had enough of it and started equally showing aggression back. I believe also Japan was the same way too, in the ninties and recently in the same fashion the younger generation didn’t respect them the same way as the generations before.

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      • Ah, that’s interesting! It’s similar here, you know there may be a huge queue and they barge to the front, not even excusing themselves…so it is a cultural thing, which is sure to change gradually. I don’t mind the elderly being a little cheeky, in fact I find it quite endearing, but pushing strangers around, and calling strangers hurtful things for no apparent reason isn’t any way to behave (at any age!)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think you are wrong. Every culture has these raw bad things. Like I noticed in North America it’s kids. Even today. Your kid does something really wrong but if the other person is an adult they are supposed to suck up and man up and no one is going to tell the kid that they are acting wrong because you are the adult so you have to manage. It is hard to manage human beings of any age. The old thing happens in South Asia too where I am from but nowadays the kid thing started in well high class schools. I worked as a substitute teacher in one for 4 months and lost interest. The teachers were somewhat mean as in superiors, the years 8 and above students showed hardly any respect and the teachers wanted you to go with the flow. Yuck. Kids not reprimanded for either precociousness or whatever actually makes them act entitled and spoiled.

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  5. I agree. Respect has to be earned. Just because they’ve aged faster than we have, does not mean we have to take their abuse. Age does not wiser you make(Yoda would’ve said it like that…maybe). Stupid people are still stupid whatever age they may be. Now, I’m not saying that we should be disrespectful (not that you have been), I think everyone should treat everyone with respect.

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  6. I don’t think you have it wrong at all. Something like this is reverse discrimination. By the way, I heard there has been a Youtube video that’s going viral with three grandmas who smoke pot for the first time. Is that where you got the first gif from? Ha, ha…

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  7. I think respect has to be earned. And it is not a matter of age. I am sometimes surprised about how rude older people behave just because you have to respect them and be polite.
    Just recently an older guy stood right on top of the escalator where my little daughter and I were standing on. He was blocking the way, standing there, waiting for his wife (I guess) who was window shopping. As much as we tried we couldn’t help but almost bump into him to get off the escalator. Don’t get me wrong, we did not touch him, but we could barely get off the escalator. I mumbled an “excuse me”. He started swearing and cursing, telling me to get the f out of his f-ing way and showed me (and my under 10 years old girl) the rude finger. What the hell! He was blocking the escalator! How can you get out of his way if he is standing on top of the escalator???
    I did not take it (which is honestly really unusual for me) and told him, what an rude idiot he is and how sad that someone can not control himself in front of kids. And then he said something about me being rude for not respecting the elder! I looked at him and told him that respect has to be earned!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s crazy! And another situation I have been in many a time here, YOU ARE STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AISLE, THERE IS NO WAY TO GET AROUND YOU! It’s just lunacy of the highest order, in fact it often makes me wonder if it is intentional just to start some drama off, and have something else to complain about…but then that thought starts me down a dark road, so I usually move on!

      Your story really resonates, thanks for sharing it, with me – and everyone else! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Tricky. Part of the “respect your elders” is not just based on earned respect, but includes respect that is given for the fact that they survived in this world for longer than others. The world and life is brutal, like a minefield, I think props should be given for anyone who keeps going and doesn’t give up. And the very fact that they survived for long means they’ll have battle scars which will result in unusual behaviour.

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  9. I agree, I think that’s taking “respect your elders” a bit too far. For someone to not only berate you, but to follow and actually push you, is out of line. And for calling your friend names. Just because you’re *insert adjective here* doesn’t give you the right to act/treat others however you want; I see that as displaying a serious lack of maturity, which you’re ‘supposed’ to have as you grow older and gain wisdom, right?

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  10. No, you are not all wrong. It was a great read. Such questions arise not only for respect. But as your topic is respect, we would say for respect. Respect should be given to everyone irrespective of their age. Not to show disrespect to you, 🙂 but just a simple question, Why did you not respond to the hello of that old man? It is like respect cannot be earned or expected. You have to give it to get it.

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    • No, no! I didn’t respond as I had no clue what he said! haha! Firstly it was in Korean, and secondly it wasn’t any word, or dialect I had ever heard – so I just smiled, nodded, and walked on…my Korean friend I was with told me that he hadn’t greeted me, he had just shouted something like “HEYYY FOREIGNER” or something pretty rude. But never mind. It has opened up a good discussion, which is great 🙂

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  11. Oh Mr. John, you’re not wrong. It’s just a culture shock. While it may seem odd and ass-backwards to us, it’s traditional behavior to them. I don’t believe that should be an excuse, but that’s how things are. It’s sometimes unfortunate to group an entire country as uncompromising and ignorant, but certain cultures are deeply rooted. (i.e. Saudi Arabia and women’s education/driving/etc.) In a utopia world, it would be nice for all countries to be respectful and egalitarian on all fronts. I’m not sure if we’ll all get there but I am comforted by the presence of people like yourself and even activists who want the world to be a better place. ❤

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    • You’re certainly right with that, after all the whole basis of a lot of my own writing stems from funny situations, that come around as a result of clashes of culture, and difference – not always a bad thing, something to be embraced in fact 🙂 but in this situation it all just seems a little hostile, if not aggressive! Not on really! But hey, there are plenty of positives in the world 😀 I was just interested to hear people’s view on the subject. Thank you for yours, it was insightful!

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      • Down right hostile! But i will say it’s so easy for me to be all “oh its a culture thing! Blah blah blah” when in reality, if it happened to me it would bug me to no end. It would ruminate over and over in my head like “wtf?! Screw that guy!!” Lol so I’m still learning! 🙂

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  12. This post shows the cultural difference between the west and the east. In the west, you don’t tell kids firmly about their mistakes, u try, if they don’t get u, u remain quiet and let them learn.
    In the east, the elders guide the rest. They are respected for their age and experience . Most importantly, old ppl are considered as kids below 5, you can’t understand them, u can’t make them understand as well. The best thing to do is remain quiet.
    Could you have found a solution if you had shouted back at that old man? Will that be of any use??

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Here is my opinion, respect is earned, I demand respect from most everyone as I treat everyone with respect. You know that whole saying treat others the way you want to be treated. I have never had a bad experience concerning the elderly. I really don’t know many. I moved my elderly mother in law in and I choose to keep my mouth shut when she annoys me. Realizing she is probably uncomfortable living with her son and me, and our children. Now older. I do have a problem with the rudeness I feel from people in my city in general. Me being from the mountainous region of WA. Moved to LA California almost 3 years ago. People here act like they are entitled to about everything. Driving is a nightmare here, and going to the store. OMG rudeness, and teenage rudeness. Wow that one is just amazing to me. What do I do, well I talk a lot to myself while driving, or walking on the beach. So to respond to your issue. You are stronger then me cause I would have stopped and stated that I was not the problem. Especially if it was a language issue, or not hearing on my part. You smiled and acknowledged the guy. What more should you have done dropped down to kiss his feet. So no I do not feel that by all means respect is to be given to outwardly rude people. I am not old enough to say how I would expect to be respected being 48. So don’t let this issue be your issue. You do need to respect yourself and treat others the way you want to be treated. But break down the disrespect. That is a must. And maybe they will realize how rude they are. Just saying.

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    • Great input, thank you! I was brought up the same way “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”…now I can’t say I follow that advice at all times, but for the most part it steers me well! As it has you, apparently 🙂

      By the way, YES – I totally understand your point about rude teenagers, and all that – I think in that case they are trying to boost themselves up, and seem important, and dangerous among their peers. It’ll pass, I hope – it usually does. Nightmare dealing with it in the classroom, but hey – that’s another story!!!!

      You’re amazing for bringing your Mother in law in, how…well…just wow. And you are the bigger person when it comes to petty arguments, that’s fantastic too. It is exactly what I am talking about to some extent, that you have respect for her, and you act in a dignified manner…that’s why I get so confused at the antics of certain groups here, which seem to totally disregard other people’s thoughts, or feelings…and instead choose to crowbar their own in.

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  14. I agree with the commenters who’ve said that respect must be earned. At the same time, living to a ripe old age should be enough to earn some degree of respect. Then there’s the culture part of the equation, wherein some cultures require the elderly to be respected, regardless of how stodgily or cumudgeonly thay may behave. And last, but certainly not least important, is your refreshing and delightful British etiquette, John. I can’t imagine you being rude to anyone.

    Which reminds me of something I read recently….
    Q: What’s the difference between American and British etiquette?
    A: The British have it… the Americans don’t.

    Being American myself, I can’t really argue with that. 😉

    ~ Mai

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  15. I like to learn a thing or two about other places in the world. Korea was never on my bucket list and with the arrogance that seems to be dished out heavily… I have no desire to visit.
    I don’t like the sounds of random insults and yelling for no apparent reason – regardless of their freaking age. I mean… Hello…. Anyone know what the world “kindness” means?!
    I’m all for respecting my elders, but an arrogant twat could be 150, if their being a fool and acting all military at me… I’d learn a few choice words in the language.
    As I get older, I realise… People feel entitled to respect…. I was trained ever so kindly by my elders to give it regardless, I ain’t kissing no asses anymore. I’ll be kind, I’ll be polite- but not stupid. Great post as always 🙂

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  16. You did not make an easy choice living in that culture regarding this subject. But you are a guest in Korea and you have to get used to their rules. You have the coice to leave again if you don’t like what you find. But if you stay it is like an agreement to respect culture and rules. Definitely not an easy job since we are raised differently. I would struggle a lot with it.

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  17. Oh dear John. Such an unfortunate situation for you and your Korean friend. If you are a foreigner who barely understand Korean, they should make exceptions for your behavior. But if you talk and act like a Korean, it could get kinda suffocating, particularly if you are just mimicking to be polite.
    Korean society is based on the teachings of Confucius and one of the most important teachings was the importance of filial piety, aka respect a child should show to his elders. This is very deeply ingrained in Korean society, and it is not even a religion or philosophy, but just a way of life. This concept can be pretty hard to wrap your head around if you didn’t grow up in it and in turn can cause you a lot of issues if you’re living in Korea and are wondering why the hell you’re being treated the way you’re being treated. It’s a shame some common sense can’t be applied to this part of the culture.
    Arrogance in older people = fear in younger people.
    Tsk, Tsk! Unnecessary stress all round.

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  18. i always try to resspet my elders, but i’m headng up that way mysself now so they are getting less Personally I respecct them till they are just stupid and then I treat them as equals and they will get it Respet is a two way thing, if i respect you and you try to ridicule me then mister you better have a great arsenal of words.

    Also you’ve sometimes got to consider that they might not be having the greatest day. It doesn’t condone there behaviour but it might explain it. Not much good for your orean friends but if they understand English a great comeback is ‘Why would you do/say something like that to me?’ it really knocks people off guard.

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  19. It appears to me that what you’re asking for is absolute cultural change, that comes with time and not everyone is on the same schedule. I recall taking my Caucasian boyfriend to my Mexican-American household for dinner. He was appalled the men ate first and served by the women. Most importantly, he truly lost his mind when my uncle and I grabbed his arm as he stood to put his plate away once he was done; you see, women cleared the men’s plate out of respect. There was a very awkward moment where my sisters were shocked, my uncles were embarrassed, my boyfriend was confused, and me? I just laughed my ass off!
    Of course those days are long gone for my family. My advice? Slow down speed racer; respect their customs, change will eventually come.

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  20. I’m an elder, and I’m with you. You should be able to use your own judgement about respect rather than an iron-clad rule. I would find it hard to ignore these people screaming. Maybe there’s a Korean phrase you could learn that would tell them to take their rudeness elsewhere?

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  21. The abuse of respect given elders can be any country, although the abuse of it in Korea seems intensely extreme!.
    I overheard a conversation among ‘senior citizens’ (US) talking about twisting the respect to selfish end, and at times just for fun. One lady makes a point of cutting in line/queue for the grocery store or movies–just because she can ‘get away with it’. She makes a point of seeming to be deaf or befuddled. She gets dirty looks but who’s going to yank an Old Lady out of the line?
    Her reasoning– I’m #%$& old — I’ll do whatever I can get away with’.
    Perhaps that’s because the cultural respect-for-elders in the US seems diminished or even non-existent with some of the younger people now, who are no longer taught manners, or even ethical behavior at home. . ‘moral decline’. . which has unpleasant consequences for the rest of us .

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  22. You do not have it wrong. I have a problem with both the Respect your Elders thing and the word respect it general. The word respect evokes a certain inequality of power that bothers me but that aside, you only deserve respect if you give it. It shouldn’t be an age thing.

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  23. I like that you started by acknowledging the principle of respecting elders, but from your description of the status quo in Korea (and I’m sure other places) you’re so on point with this. While all people deserve to be respected, deferment to elders means you should listen and learn and go from there. It doesn’t mean old folks can cuss out your lady friend for sitting next to you. Why should they expect the respect of young people if they can’t show respect themselves?

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  24. I respect elders … within reason. You need to give respect to get respect. I’m a nice person and always respectful but if someone starts at me for no reason I will turn them inside out … old or not.

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  25. What a shame. I wonder how things got that way? Is the attitude among the elders like, “well people treated me badly when I was young…”

    You would think that people wouldn’t want to treat others rudely since they have endured unnecessarily rudeness.

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  26. I deal with similar situations to which you’re described living here in Korea. The perpetrators usually being adjushiis. Though it sometimes gets to me, I try to chalk it up to them just doing what they do and not taking it personally. As you said, the culture is slowly changing, but right now, this is how it is: adjummas gonna elbow, adjushiis gonna complain.
    Well done for not belting that dude one 😉 I’m sure it was tempting.

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