All pictures via Pinterest. First three are Taiwanese, last two are Korean. Can you see the difference?
I’m going to take a break from my rather long-winded narrative to make a point here.
Koreans look nothing like Taiwanese. You do have to be exposed to both for a while to see the difference, but once you do, it’s striking. I don’t know how to describe it. A friend I met in Korea said she thinks Korean faces are made up of softer, rounder shapes, while the Taiwanese have more angular features. I agree, but it makes it sound like Koreans have wide, round faces, and they don’t. Oval is the most common shape I saw, but I agree that the whole appearance is softer. Soft eyes, round, soft lips, long noses, soft jawlines… They’re all gorgeous. Plastic surgery or not, even when they weren’t pretty, they were. That doesn’t make sense. Oh well.
I’d heard from various sources that Koreans aren’t as warm and friendly up-front as the Taiwanese, and that seemed to be true. I didn’t actually meet any to talk to, but even in the service I noticed it. They were painfully polite and respectful, even more so than in Taiwan. I talked about politeness and perfection before in Taiwan, but Korea makes them look downright rude. If you’re familiar with Korean culture at all, you’ll know they bow a lot. When I walk into a restaurant, they bow. They bow when I leave a check-out counter. They bow all the time. When giving or taking something, like money, they touch their elbow. A gesture of respect. It was hard to get used to, and I’m sure I botched it. I don’t know, in my situation as customer, was I even supposed to? I’ll learn.
I haven’t bought into the whole “all Asians look the same” thing in a long time. Years, really; since I started getting interested in the East. You know what’s funny though? When I went home in February, all the white people I saw looked the same to me. I was having trouble distinguishing between one blonde lady and the next. I guess our students do have a point when they say we all look the same to them.