Part 1 of this series covered the language and language families in general for the Asian languages. Part 2 will cover the social conduct that is seen throughout Asian countries.
To begin, the social structure in Asia, and especially East Asian countries, stems from Taoism and Confucianism philosophies.
Confucianism has played a big role in setting the social structure in Asia and has more influence than any other belief or philosophy has. Now before I begin, keep in mind I am not saying all Asians follow the Confucian religion, but deep down in Asian culture there are Confucian beliefs. An Asian person may not even recognize what they do as Confucian beliefs, yet it still shapes their beliefs and morals.
One of the major structures in Asian culture influenced by Confucianism is the family structure. One of the Confucian beliefs is respect for parents. This explains why Asian children are almost always so respectful of their parents and do everything they are told. Kids will be kids, and disobedience always enters the picture. If you look at the larger picture however, you will find that Asian culture puts great respect on elders and people are trained that way from birth. Anyone older than you is going to be respected. This is so important in Asia that it is structured into the language itself. In Korea, there will be different endings for verbs, and sometimes different verbs altogether that need to be used depending on who you speak with. If you speak to someone older than you, you will need to use a polite and honorific style of speech. It differs from English in the fact that the actual language and words change. In English, it is simply acceptable to speak politely and add a sir on the end for example. The language doesn't change however. Both languages have their own ways to show respect. Korean just has it actually included in the words and basic structures of the language.
Some other Confucian beliefs that have structured Asian culture are humility, honesty and trustworthiness, and loyalty.
While I mention beliefs, I feel I should introduce Taoism and how it has influenced Asian culture as well. To start off, what is Taoism? Basically, Taoism beliefs strongly link man to nature. Men will search and find harmony and peace, usually in nature. Taoism says everything is connected and their is energy that flows between everything. A common power runs through everything. Many Asians will follow some beliefs of Taoism. Once again, it may not be about the religion, but just the whole philosophy of it. Searching for peace and harmony can be a great thing for anybody to do. I believe everybody could use a little more peace and harmony in their lives. Nature really does have some power over people when it comes to peace. Try sitting in an open, beautiful field with a slow breeze. If it doesn't calm you down and relax you, then something is odd. Unfortunately it is hard for most people in the United States (or many other countries for that matter) to do this. Industrialization has taken over and lives are too busy. You can definitely try to make do with what you have though. Fortunately for Asia, there are still many beautiful landscapes virtually untouched by industrialization. Nature is everywhere in Asia. You will find some of the most beautiful palaces situated on lily ponds (such as Gyeongbokgung Palace in near Seoul).
Wherever it may be, everyone can find an escape in nature. Asians have realized this and have grown to love nature. They also have set up a social structure of great respect for others.
Part 3 will teach Korean and Asian culture through details on Korean schools and educational systems. Stay tuned and check back soon!
Learn Korean Language is a site based on teaching the Korean language. It also provides details on Korean culture, Korean foods, Korean recipes, Korean music, everything Korean!