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Innocents Abroad

Akshay Patil believes that his time in Inchon International Airport gave him a “small glimpse into Korean culture.” Indeed, “small” is an understatement, but only because of his inability to expand his perspective.

Usually when people encounter new cultures, they admit their inexperience, show a willingness to learn, and finally develop understanding. Mr. Patil readily admits his inexperience, but he inexplicably stops there.

He seems surprised that Korean is spoken on a Korean flight, yet unnecessarily points out the flight attendants’ broken English. (I’d like to hear Mr. Patil’s broken Korean; to mock anyone’s attempt at a non-native language is callous.)

About Korean rap, he says, “I’m not used to it,” but then dismissively adds “and so it strikes me as comical.”

Or, Mr. Patil finds it “hilarious” that Korean Duty Free shops display ginseng. But just a few moments reading a guidebook or surfing the Web would explain that Korea has an ideal climate for growing ginseng and for this reason Korean ginseng is prized in East Asian medicine. And like many expensive, regional products, it has found a niche in duty-free sales.

With a broader perspective, the author could have written a column not comprised of high-handed comments and superficial observations. A little tolerance goes a long way.

In the future, I hope The Tech will only publish travel journals that display greater sensitivity to other cultures.

Gina Kim ’02