Joel at The Marmot's Hole
reports on a story of a "man... arrested for sexually assaulting a female middle school student on a bus in the middle of the afternoon" and that "[d]espite the fact that many male and female passengers were riding the bus at the same time, no one made a move to intervene or offer any assistance" — Bystander Effect in Korea
With examples, he rightly suggests that "Koreans in general, while prone to heroics in situations when the life of an individual is in danger, tend to only intervene in critical situations that don’t involve coming between two strangers." He then argues that "that the bystander effect is actually more extreme in collectivist societies where the tendency is to already view oneself as part of the crowd rather than as an individual."
Citing the local report, Joel says, "I found it surprising that the article spent almost as much time condemning the people on the bus as it did the actual perpetrator of the crime." I agree. I wasn't on the bus, so I'll give the passengers the benefit of the doubt.
The article informs us that the villain "groped" the poor girl in the "the back row." Back rows can be pretty private on a noisy public bus. If passengers did hear some commotion, they might well have chalked it up to a lovers' spat, and adverted the attention. Also, school girls can be quite noisy in public, and most people have learned to tune them out. I live across from a middle school, and when school lets out, I often hear screams that sound like some girl is being attacked, but they're just playing around.
My experience is that this whole distinction between collectivist and individualist cultures is not very helpful. Not only are we all individuals, cultures tend to be collectivist and individualist in certain areas. Koreans can be just as individualistic as the ruggedest American in some areas, whereas as far back as Alexis de Tocqueville
the collectivist nature of American thought has been pointed out.
Labels: America the Beautiful, Corea, Law, The Fairer Sex