Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ppalli Ppalli

Hurry! Hurry! Koreans say "ppalli ppalli" when they want others to speed up. The term now symbolizes Koreans' penchant for rushing things.

A favorite order at a restaurant is, "What's the fastest food you serve here?" Language institutes advertise sok sung - or "fast-result" -courses. Many passengers jostle in the aisles of a plane, taking down luggage, impatient to get off, eventhough the plane is still taxiing after landing. Bus passengers get up and lurch to the doors before the vehicle stops. They rush because the driver is impatient to move on to the next stop.

Ppalli ppalli is a Korean term widely known among restaurant owners and tour guides in Southeast Asia, Guam and Saipan - popular destinations for South Korean tourists.

Sociologists attribute ppalli ppalli to the country's rapid economic growth. South Korea was reduced to ashes during the Korean War, but built itself into one of the world's largest economies.

Some taxi drivers honk horns and yell at the other cars that move slowly. South Korea has one of the world's highest traffic accident rates.

Koreans have not always been in a hurry. The ancient elite considered running below their dignity. Sociologists say Korean began changing as they went through the chaos and great rush began when Park Chung-hee, an authoritarian general who ruled for 18 years until his assination in 1979, sheperded the nation into rapid industrialization. He emphasized getting things done quickly, rewarding companies that built roads, bridges and plants faster than scheduled.

Gonggidanchuk, or "shortening the construction period", used to be proud motto among Korean builders. Now the phrase is associated with sloppy workmanship.

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