Actually, this is a common thing that foreigners will directly realize as soon as they stepped on their foot in South Korea. Koreans don’t speak English that fluently, maybe most of them even don’t know English at all. You maybe wondering why a developed country like Korea can’t speak English? How come they go global and be a tiger in some areas in international world? The key is in some people. Yes indeed. Some people who are really powerful and have an amazing skill has turned poor Korean life into an lower high income class (*cited from Global Business Today- Charles Hill, 2009). And the president of the Korea, Park Chung Hee had a big effort for it. I have discussed this in my previous blog i think.
Anyway, today i’ve just discover more reasons “Why Not English”? Yeah, it’s because Koreans used to start to learn English in middle school but not really learn, i mean poor English education. And then if their major is English literature in the university why they still are not able to speak English? It’s also because a part of their culture, they are too shy to try to speak and that is the general Korean class environment. So, when you are in Korea, and then you are in the middle of the street try to ask a Korean a direction. But then they will runaway, it’s not because they think you’re ghost, it’s because they are afraid to speak English even they already knew it. However, nowadays you’ll find more Koreans who are able to speak good English, or at least they can answer your question, so don’t worry.
This is my experience when i met a Korean who can speak English
(yeah, I know he’s a tourist information man, but you’ll surprise in some places the tourist information officer cannot speak English at all!)
So, when you want to visit South Korea, either to travel, to study, or for business meeting, make sure you have a dictionary (a book, electronic, or ur smartphone). Just in case you need to ask a Korean, that will be better than the Tarzan language. 😀