What kind of Chinese things have ever puzzled you?

I’m Chinese-Canadian. I have to say that a lot of things about Chinese culture puzzles me.

  1. I don’t understand why the rich elite spend so much money on trivial items to show their status and wealth. It seems completely opposite the way Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley elites show their wealth; they don’t really show it much at all whereas Chinese elites and rich people just flaunt it wherever they go like some people who just won the lottery or maybe some rich black rappers do.
  2. I don’t understand why they are so interested in showing off said material wealth but not so interested in the value of their own physical appearance and hygiene. They are interested to buy all these luxury items yet they don’t care about actually matching their fashion items together, actually wearing the makeup that they buy, or practicing cleanliness. I don’t understand that.
  3. I don’t understand Chinese superstitions. Feng Shui is one of them. But there’s tons of these superstitions. My mom used to tell me I must have some deadly disease because the color of my fingernails were different from hers. I had a Chinese friend who purposely left her pinky fingernail longer than the other nails and it bothered me a lot. I just don’t understand why. What’s the scientific reasoning behind this nonsense?
  4. Chinese medicine. Acupuncture and cupping. What’s the scientific reasoning behind those. I don’t think there are any. Where’s the proof that it works other than word of mouth. Yet Chinese people take Chinese medicine as an effective system just because they have been using it a long time. That doesn’t mean anything – bloodletting was practiced for a long time in the Western world too doesn’t mean it was effective.
  5. The animosity towards their Asian neighbors. This might be due to national pride, or government brainwashing, but since i was educated in a Western country I don’t understand why Chinese have these preconceived notions against Koreans, Japanese and other Asians as if they were all born to hate on each other. Can’t we all look at each other with a positive attitude? And not judge other cultures if we haven’t been to their countries?

Because of the stress on face in Chinese culture, is it more important to be well-dressed in China than in the West?

China is a country of many ironies, I find. They are socially liberal (gays and lesbians are not as accepted as in Taiwan, but more accepted than in Japan/Korea, and women are allowed to be masculine without much consequence), yet they are very conservative when it comes to displaying sexual things (Korea/Japan show more sex in their media than China does by far).

And here’s another irony: it’s not as important to look as good, as its more important as owning something expensive. That’s weird right? Chinese fashion lags far behind Korean/Japanese fashion, yet Chinese people spend way more on their clothing and accessories. “Face” which is one of the strangest cultural customs to me, applies for showing off your wealth and status only, but somehow not as much to appearance. My Chinese friends bought hundreds of dollars worth of Korean makeup back to China – but they never use it. I asked them why and they said it’s more important just to have it and show it off than to use it, which didn’t make sense to me.

Why your appearance does not determine your status in at least some part, I have no idea. Quite strange indeed. On the other hand, Korea/Japan focus a lot on appearance, not so much on showing off your wealth. Some Korean girls I met had done plastic surgery many times and had a supermodel like figure, yet I would find out that she was actually dirt poor. She had put all of her savings into her appearance.

What do non-Koreans dislike about Korean culture and Korean people?

1. Racism
I wish Koreans would stop worshipping white people and treating white people different than other foreigners. Black people, Hispanics, and other non-Korean Asians all get treated differently, or “lower” than white people get treated and this is an issue common to most Asian countries I think. Because of Hollywood and history, white people get looked up upon and Koreans think of themselves as “better” than other Asians.

2. Citizenship
Its very difficult for a foreigner to become a Korean citizen. There’s really only a few ways, either marry a Korean national, have Korean heritage but live abroad, invest $5m into the Korean economy, or become a Korean cultural ambassador. So for the majority of us foreigners the only reliable option is to marry a Korean, which I’m not opposed to, but its difficult meeting a girl to marry when you can’t live here permanently. And you have to marry to live here permanently. Working here for any amount of time doesn’t cut it.

3. Online security
Doing anything online, buying tickets for a movie, getting internet, going to naver cafes, online shopping, transferring money to a bank account, getting a cellphone contract etc all requires a Korean resident number (only Korean citizens have that), or requires an Foreigner ID card (only foreigners with a work permit have that). So if you are living in Korea short term like me, good luck getting those things online. Its a major headache and hassle.

4. Work culture
The work culture in Korea is very strict. You have to follow what your boss tells you do and can’t talk back. You can’t leave work until your boss does. You have to go drinking with your boss if he tells you do. Overtime and Weekend work is normal. That’s why I don’t to work for a Korean company. But they have to get with the times and change these rules. Its way too strict and hinders intellectual and career development. Also, you’re encouraged to stay with the same company to show your loyalty. These rules are pretty different than Chinese work culture where there is more freedom of movement.

5. Gender equality
the recent murder of a girl in Gangnam by a guy who hated women prompted some people to talk about gender equality and misogynists in Korea. But unlike in America, where girls complain about sexism in every single thing imaginable, in Korea its very real.

There is a 30% work pay gap between Korean women and men, and that is the highest gap in the OECD. Korean women are pressured to look pretty all the time, and some have to get plastic surgery to find a job. They are discriminated against if they get pregnant while on the job and can be dismissed. In America, people can sue for this, but in Korea women are too afraid of retaliation to even try. In fact, online Korean bloggers even trying to talk about women’s rights get attacked viciously online by Korean males who don’t want women to have more rights.

In the US, there is the benefit of American males who have sympathy for feminists, but the reason why you don’t see many feminists in Korea is because its a patriarchal society, and people are afraid of retaliation and backlash, where Korean men don’t have that much sympathy for the women.


-koreans spitting on the streets. seriously stop that, its disgusting

-smoking everywhere. every time i go to noraebang or a club i have to immediately change clothes because of this

-study culture. I don’t study in Korea but I feel sorry for those that do. 3am in the morning and the cafes are full of students studying. oh man..

-the religious fanatics. I don’t believe in Jesus ok, but I see these people everywhere. They even use young girls to rope people into their little cult. And its pretty much just brainwashing anyways.