What do the internet and Koreans have in common?

Question: What do the internet and Koreans have in common?

Answer: Both are part of the “ppali ppali” culture.

According to a survey (of 280 foreigners and 344 Koreans) on Korea’s image to the world conducted by the Core Image Communication Institute, both foreigners and Koreans regarded the “ppali ppali” culture as one of the top weaknesses of Koreans.

“Ppali ppali” (빨리 빨리) in Korean literally means “quickly quickly”.  If the people say “빨리 빨리” to you, it means “Hurry up!”.  If you have been to Korea, you may notice that the Koreans seem to be rushing through things in their daily lives, e.g., eating and walking very quickly.

Perhaps owing to this “ppali ppali” culture, the speed of service is very quick in South Korea.  When you go to the local Korean restaurants, the food is served quickly after you have ordered (unless they miss your order!).   Moreover, if you are located within South Korea and purchase books, CDs or DVDs from the Korean online bookshops, for orders given in the morning, you may even be able to get the products by the evening of the same day. Furthermore, the speed of the internet within South Korea is very high.  According to the US-based cloud services provider Akamai Technologies, Korea ranked number 1 in terms of overall internet connection speed in the region (though it ranked second after Hong Kong in terms of average peak connection speed).

On the other hand, questions have been raised whether this “ppali ppali” culture results in people cutting corners to get work done quickly and disregarding safety, e.g., running red lights or (in the Sewol ferry disaster’s case) dangerously overloading the ship.  There have been calls to reconsider this “ppali ppali” culture.

When you go to South Korea, don’t get surprised by the “ppali ppali” culture!

Reminder : The next blog post will be published on 5 December 2013. Watch this space!



Korea ranks number two in peak internet connection speed“, Arirang News, 2014-10-02 – you can get more detail on comments by Akamai Technologies

Sohn Jung-in, “What springs to mind upon hearing ‘Korea’?“, Arirang News, 2014-07-19 – you can get more detail on the survey conducted by the Corea Image Communication Institute

Steven Schuit, “Korea’s problem with safety“, The Choson Ilbo, 2014-05-08

Choe Sang-hun, “Korea confronts tendency to overlook safety as toll in ferry sinking grows“, The New York Times, 2014-04-22

이해영, 김은영, 신경선, 주은경, 이정란, 이현의,  《생활 속 한국 문화77》, 서울: 랭기지플러스<한글파크>, 2011, 42-45쪽


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