What do Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans think of each other?
I live in Japan for a few years, and I speak/read it fluently. I’ve known at least 10 Koreans personally, in the US, Korea, Hong Kong and mainland China. I’ve work with Korean bosses and colleagues since 2011.
The social cultures of the 3 countries are driven by 3 very different emotions:
China - Ambition
South Korea - Pride
Japan - Fear
The average Chinese person is first and foremost a rat racer. Meaning they will do whatever it takes to get ahead in the rat race of life. This is raw ambition, and much of the culture is built around this. This is why wherever Chinese go, they eventually make it to the top of that society, at least in terms of economics.
This picture went viral on Chinese social media as an example of the raw gung-ho nature of the Chinese people. Chinese are deterred by nothing, not laws, not politeness, not even physics.
The average Korean is a extremely, and I mean extremely proud to be Korean. Given their geographic position, their history, their cultural legacy, I can see why they would be like this. Koreans are also ambitious, but not to the same pathological extent as Chinese.
In all my time with Koreans, I’ve never, not once, heard them claim that the Korean version of anything wasn’t the best version of it. The closest I’ve heard was ignorance (from Korean Americans who were largely clueless about their own Korean heritage).
Japanese society is built around fear. Mainly fear of their peers scorning them for not conforming to the extremely strict social norms.
Ironically, you will see dozens of fringe cultural cliques in Japan. But they always appear as a group. A Japanese person will never stand alone. And if they have to stand alone, they just don’t leave their house, literally. There’s over a million Japanese who live shut in lives as Hikkikomori.
Hikkikomori-ism is a problem unique to Japan that has no analog in any other country, at least not to the same extreme degree. It derives for a fear of society. The truth is, Japanese people find Japanese society to be terrifying.
Outsiders observe that Japanese are polite. Well that’s true… right up until you try to service one as a vendor. I worked in a company where we had to deal with clients from banks all over Asia. The Chinese clients were quite easy going, the Koreans ones predictable and rule driven, and the Japanese treated our reps like garbage. Their mentality was “we’re paying you, you deserve to be treated as garbage”.
There are many polite cultures around the world, even in Asia: Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines etc. These cultures are polite out of a genuine sense of goodwill and friendliness. The Japanese are not like this. They’re polite towards you because it’s a societal obligation, and they fear being seen violating this obligation. Once in private though, things change. Once the fear is gone, the Japanese are free to be themselves.
Jukjyu Yuru Lam
The good parts
• They are generally polite and well-educated.
• They do everything orderly even though there might be something really terrible just happened. I was impressed by them during 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
• They have more interest in cute（Kawaii）things than any other people in Asia.
• They are creative in every field. They always come up with unpredictable ideas that affect the market greatly.
• They have really amazing tech brands. Sony, Panasonic, Honda and so on.
• They generally care about their appearance but not their teeth. Why? Can anyone tell me why?
• They are careful and notice every detail of what they are doing. Take a look at their products and you’ll get it.
• Their food! OOOOOOh, I love their food.
The bad parts
• They are short. It’s so strange for me to have this impression because the Japanese’s average height is above the Chinese’s.
• They are depressed and depressing. A lot of Japanese are made to work until late night and they normally don’t get a chance to change their jobs. Once they quit their jobs or get fired, they may have a really hard time finding a new one.
• Their women generally seem to have a lower status.
• They are a bit hypocritical.
• They want everyone to be the same. There is a lack of interest in kee diversity.
• Only a little bit of them know what their ancestors had done to China and Korea during WWII. I feel furious about this though I know I should only blame the one who wrote the history textbook.
• I barely understand a word when they speak English.
• Living in an even much less de ocratic and less free country than the .
• Having free medical service. I envy that.
The good parts
• Tall and fit. I didn’t see any fat persons the last time visiting South Korea.
• Pretty and care for their appearance the most among all Asian.
• Producing wonderful singing groups and actors/actresses. BTS, EXO,Girls' Generation, Blackpink, Song Hye-kyo, Gong Yoo, Lee Byung hun and so on.
• Diligent and hard-working.
• Having advanced companies like samsung, kia. SK is one of the leaders in IT industry.
• Korean foooooooooood! I can speak a bit Korean and a quarter of the words I know are about food. I would kill for having Korean barbecue right now.
• Young Korean’s English are great though with some accent.
The bad parts
• They often care about their appearance too much that it could be called appearance supremacy. Girls are made to wearing makeup due to this kind of social atmosphere. If there is a pop color for lipsticks, every girl will be wearing it no matter it fits them or not. A lot of people have plastic surgery even though they look fine.
• Noisy. I live in Italy and I can recognize both Korean and Japanese but I always see noisy South Korean but not Japanese.
• Being unfair in sport, especially football. But I heard that actually a lot of South Korean are not proud of it as well, is that true?
• Women’s low social status.
• They have too strict relationship between the younger one and the older one. If you were born in January/February, your peer would need to show more respect to you.
• Their haters for celebritiess are very terrifying.
• Financial cliques(Chaebol) can easily control the politics. Look what happened to president Roh Moo-hyun when he was trying to weaken their power.
I tried to be as objective as I can. I watched tons of documentaries, dramas and movies from both countries so they provided me multiple angles to look into their society.
China, Korea and Japan have been neighbors for a veeeeeeeeeeeeery long time. We have seen each other in good or bad time. We have conflicts and we have co-operations.
If we can open our mind to get rid of our stereotypes for each other and communicate more often, I am sure we will find each other adorable.
As from a Japanese point of view, I have to admit that Greg-san is quite right to some point that Japanese may have a tendency to look down towards Chinese and Koreans in general. Yes, there is a bit of a racism here…
There is no race that is better than the other. It is more about people at individual levels. And forget about the government.
BTW I don’t, I have a lot of Chinese and Korean friends so don’t target me for negative comments, OK?!
However as I wrote on my other answers, Japanese are actually a combination of early East Asian race and within you have Chinese, Mongolian, Korean and many more mixed into them.
However if you’re worried about mixed children, as long as your child would be raised in a Japanese school and he/she speaks Japanese as he/she grows, there would not be much of a problem. Since the color of our skin and the features of our body are quite similar he/she will blend in.
Now about the name. If you have a Japanese name it will even help to blend in.
If you have a Korean or a Chinese family name, that could alarm a few racist Japanese but it is not that bad compared to 30 years ago. Racism is considered as an serious crime in Japan and its been enforced.
Well that’s for Japan, I am curious how honest and constructive the answers would be for other answers ;-)