Logic and living in Seoul, Korea book - (Page 23)
What time is it - I am sure that Koreans who go to Italy must wonder why everyone takes a short sleep in the afternoon and shops and offices close for two hours. ‘Siesta ’ time is an integral part of life in Italy and also in some other Mediterranean countries, such as Spain. In a country like Korea, where shops are open until 5am in an area such as ‘Dongdaemun’ and where people often work 12 hours a day, the concept of siesta may be hard to grasp. Similarly, Koreans who have been to the U.S. may wonder why the U.S. lets people aged 18 join the military, yet will not let the same people drink until they are 21. Koreans who have been to Britain may also wonder why all of the pubs close at 11pm.
In Korea the thing I did not understand, was why construction/building work always seemed to start at 6 or 7am when I was trying to sleep and why it also happened on weekends, where I was living. In addition, on a personal basis, I also wondered why the guy in the next apartment next to me always did repair work on his apartment between 2am and 4am. The truth and reality, is that Koreans take advantage of every moment no matter what time it is, because people work very hard and often have little spare time. With eleven million people crammed together (a quarter of the population) in one city, in a country which for land area is nearly the same size as England, you are always going to be living in close quarters to other people and as a result, noise of some kind will never potentially be far away.
Such is the desire of Koreans to get as much done as possible, a very high percentage of Koreans sleep only five or six hours a day, be it business people or school children. Several school children I talked with reported staying in school for 12 hours a day. My own experience of Korean culture and time was when I found out that I would be teaching one shift from 7:30am every morning. It was a shock to realise that people would actually want to study at such an early hour in the morning. The students would actually start at 7am with a Korean teacher and then study with a native English speaker from 7:30am. It simply would never happen in the UK or America, that people would study at such an early time in the morning. It was with even greater shock that I found a student complaining to management at the school, that some of the native teachers always looked tired – at 7:30 in the morning. I was probably one of those guilty teachers.