Driving in Korea

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

-by Matt Leedham

We all live by a certain set of rules.  We may not even realize what rules we’ve set for ourselves, but they’re there.  And they can be highly limiting if we remain unaware.

Some rules have been set by our societal influences.  For example, men may feel pressure to be the bread winner in a relationship.  Similarly, women may feel pressure to be the caregiver.

Some rules have been set by our local or national governments.  Stealing, for example, is illegal in almost every society I am aware of.  Also, if there are roads and cars, stopping at red lights is usually a rule.

And some rules have been set in our minds by us, based on the experiences we have lived through.  Some people may think that they’re not cut out to be successful in business because they aren’t savvy or smart enough, or think that success in business and a happy family life are not compatible.  Some may think that they aren’t witty enough, or funny enough, or good looking enough to be in a successful relationship.

Let me tell you something about rules that I learned in Korea.  They are at minimum negotiable, and at best breakable.

Driving in Korea is not nearly as exhilarating as driving in Turkey, India, or Costa Rica, but it is a great example of a modern nation with completely negotiable rules.  

Stopping at a red light?  Not guaranteed.

Yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk?  Absolutely not.

The stop lights look the same (sort of).  And the crosswalks and pedestrian signs resemble that of the U.S.  So , what’s the difference?

My interpretation is that societal pressures to conform in that way are not there.  And without the societal norm forcing others into submission, people started creating their own rules.

If you live in the DC area, you are familiar with the Beltway.  If you’re not, the Beltway is a highway that surrounds the DC metro area in a big circle.  The speed limit is 55 miles per hour (mph).  The minimum speed limit is 35 mph.  But what happens when you are driving 48 mph?  Angry drivers are on you like white on rice, honking their horn, flashing there lights, or (if they are kind), speed up and zip around you like an Formula 1 race car driver.

Why do they do this?  It’s perfectly legal to drive 48 mph on the Beltway.  What gives?

The problem is, by driving 48 mph, you are breaking an unwritten, societal norm (rule).  The herd is trying to force you back into submission by sending both aggressive and passive aggressive signals your way.

So, if Koreans can drive on the shoulder and run a red light without any problem, and if you don’t like being forced into submission by societal pressures, what rules can you break?  

Don’t get me wrong, and please don’t break any laws.  But take a moment to examine the written and unwritten rules that govern your life.  What purpose are they serving?  Are they benefiting you and others?  What if you decided to rewrite one of those rules?  Or throw one out altogether?  

If given a chance, what new rule could you create for yourself?  Would it be one that limits you?  Or one that serves you, allows you to live by your values, and moves you toward your vision?

As always, the choice is yours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *