Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Appropriate or inappropriate?

The following picture has been the source of heated argument at Brian's about whether or not the shirtless display, reminiscent of North American sports fans, is appropriate at a Korean ball game. Since the actual people involved went on line over there, it got personal.

Any thoughts? Are they just having a good time? Are they offending the people around them? Are people going to laugh now but solidify some lingering impression that "foreigners are weird"? Is this kind of loosening up something that South Koreans today are able to appreciate? Is going shirtless okay nowadays? Do you wish these guys would have stayed home?

While this kind of display was clearly not acceptable in 1988, when foreign visitors to the Olympics were taking off their shirts in the heat, much to the chagrin of the locals, this is 2009. Two decades have passed, so are things different? In 1988, people didn't even wear shorts — not even men! — in public (outside their immediate neighborhood), and that has certainly changed. A lot of the Koreans in the stands seem to be enjoying the display...


  1. is it really a source of argument if it's one bag-o'-douche complaining about how people don't get korea like HE gets korea?

    ah, i remember when 'i bet you can't even speak korean' was my go-to insult. i had a lot of growing up to do.

  2. Well, even if that one particular person isn't being the most diplomatic about it, there may be some valid points to the argument. I'm divided.

    I'm trying to think of something here in Hawaii, a parallel of sorts, that "foreigners" might do that would raise the ire of local Hawaiians because it's just not done.

    But the problem is that (a) foreigners here are pretty well behaved, and (b) Hawaii is so laid back with clothing styles and what-not that there's very little you could do to offend someone. Well, walking shirtless into the mall may be frowned on, and certain offenses might come about if you don't respect native Hawaiian culture, but other than that I'm not sure.

  3. Are you sure about that shorts comment? I've seen video of the first Korean Series in 1983 and there were quite a few people wearing shorts in attendence.

  4. Okay, that was a dumb question. It was the Korean series, right? Sorry.

    I've lived in Korea at various times since I was a teenager, including a short stint before the Olympics, and about a year afterward. Before there were almost no people wearing shorts, but in 1989 it was quite common.

  5. What is so funny is that many Korean fans are just not wearing T shirts.. you don't need to google very far.

    And I think Korean aren't only watching Korean baseball, they know about american basball culture very well. Why would they play baseball if they didn't know anything about it..

    The guy at Brian's blog is really over acting, Korean aren't all monks...

    I'll ask my wife what she thinks about it.. my bet is that she will says,, "beuh... who cares.."

  6. For purposes of full disclosure, the first Korean Series was played in Daegu during the summer. Even in the early evening, it can be awfully warm during summer in Daegu. Also, most of the men wearing shorts were young men and boys.

    I seem to remember more than a few shirtless Korean dudes in the 2002 World Cup. Either way, a few guys supporting one of the local teams is no big deal. Let's worry about something else, please

  7. Hmm... Well, my comment was about adults (say, college age or older), not kids.

    But if adult men and women really were wearing shorts in Taegu, maybe that was a Taegu thing before it was a Seoul thing, owing to the hotter weather there. Just like how in Honolulu people rarely wear a suit and tie even in the office.

  8. Let's look at it this way, what would happen if a whole section of Dodger Stadium had Koreans and Thundersticks? How would that go over? What about Koreans at a ballgame in the US chanting and singing throughout the game? How would that go over? Both practices are completely fine in Korea, but would go over poorly back home. These guys were doing the dog-and-pony circus act and the Koreans though it was funny and unusual. It doesn't make it acceptable. In the picture, they look stupid. But then again, you really are not going to find a lot of sofisticated Canadians or Aussie now, are you?


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