Daily Archives: 6 November, 2014

Koreans are, like, super honest, dude…

A few weeks ago, I came across a short article and video. I’ve often considered how different it is living in Korea compared to the Americas… especially in consideration of honesty and how safe I feel.

In the video, a Korean company embarks on an experiment. At the start of one day, they load 100 bags filled with gifts and GPS devices onto 100 different subway cars. They set up hidden cameras and then watched to see what would happen. How many of the 100 unclaimed, nameless bags would show up where they’d been left by the end of the day?

Turns out, not too many… Just 6 bags made their way back to the transportation hub at the end of the day. Disappointing, right? But not very surprising.

But wait! There was a shocking element to the experiment.

By the following morning, an additional 87 bags had been delivered to the transit system’s Lost and Found in the main office. Eighty-seven. Turns out Korean people are super honest.

Check out the video:

Since arriving here, I’ve learned that the majority of Korean people are disgustingly honest and trustworthy. As a group, everyone generally respects one another’s things. Theft and violent crime are extraordinarily rare. I leave my front door unlocked when I go for a run. (I also sometimes forget to lock it before going to bed and have woken up the next morning to find it undisturbed.) I rarely worry for my safety unless I’m alone at night in a place that just exudes “sketchiness.” (These are also rarities.) I feel super safe. Like, way safer than I do when I’m in the States. I don’t worry about any of my stuff while I’m around Koreans. It’s fellow foreigners I have to be worried about…

When I go to a restaurant or a coffee shop, I never worry about leaving things behind at the table to go to the counter and order… or even to go to the bathroom. I will literally leave my $1400 MacBook laptop, iPhone5, and handbag with my wallet just hanging out at my table. I would never, under any circumstances, do this in America. I also would never do this on an American military base in Korea… Being on base is like being in “little America.” I would never do this in about 9/10 of the world’s other 180-some countries. As humans, we just can’t be trusted. Sad, isn’t it?

I mean, let’s think about this: If someone were to conduct this same experiment in the States, how many bags would make it back to the transit office? I’m going to go with… None. Definitely nowhere near 87. Americans are greedy. We are dishonest. I thought about how I would react if I saw one of these bags: I can honestly say that I would just leave it where it was and not bother it. I would consider it “none of my business” and not even bother to look inside. But other Americans? They might look inside and then just go ahead and carry it off the train with them. Finders, keepers, right?

I have really come to appreciate and respect Korean people for their honesty and their trustworthiness. They are a generally kind group of people. (That is, until they cut in front of you to board the bus.) I love that I just don’t have to worry. It’s awesome.

The rest of us could totally take a leaf from their book. Unfortunately, I know not to expect much to have changed when I finally make my way back home to the Americas. But wouldn’t it be nice if it did? If we could just trust strangers?… Right. Fat chance of that happening.

Check out the full article here. Food for thought!


Your turn, Reader. Share your thoughts. Have you ever felt safe enough to leave your stuff just sitting around unattended for a few minutes? Are you surprised by the results of the experiment in the video?

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