I’m not complaining, whining, griping, but really, seriously, that’s what plenty of older people (of both sexes, but just more often older women) are like in South Korea. Which is something plenty of Koreans have been around all their lives and sort-of accept as “the way it is”… though it annoys younger South Koreans too, believe me I know. I’ve had whole classrooms full of students ranting about how “ajummas” are just impossible to deal with, who brought it up themselves… but the women in the classes have sometimes smirked and added, “But I understand, because I will act like them too, someday.”
For a Westerner, it’s just shocking. It’s abrasive. It’s not because it’s women behaving this way, as it’s just shocking and abrasive when men behave this way — but older women tend to do it more, at least in my experience. It’s just that anyone would run through a subway entrance while people are trying to exit, just to get a seat. That anyone would shove human beings out of the way — physically shove them — to get past in a subway that’s actually not at all crowded — or would insist on making her way to another car in a subway so crowded that people are on the verge of claustrophobic vomiting. That someone would force her way past a bride during her own wedding march… it just strikes us as so profoundly inconsiderate and discourteous at the same time, much more so because most of us encounter it for the first time, to the extremes one sees in Seoul, in adulthood.
So I don’t know about culture shock, but most Westerners I know do experience “ajumma shock” and some, like me, absolutely experience “subway shock.” I’m at the point where I decline trips into Seoul unless there’s a really good reason to go, because, like cycling, riding the subway makes me more misanthropic than I really want to be.
As for the lame theorizing about Korean society, I have to agree with hereticxxii that it’s most likely a result of women feeling entitled to behave as they like after having dealt with the burdensome expectations of a very inegalitarian society and inegalitarian culture, as well as the brunt of demands in the domestic sphere and, of course, their own (unrealistic) expectations having been disappointed — since, after all, unrealistic expectations in spouses and in marriage seem to be pretty endemic here, given the realities that surround people. They remain pretty unrealistic even now, too.