Posted: November 30th, 2013
Diversity and Inclusion
Western Governors University:
Introduction and Statement of purpose
I want to research Korean and Chinese culture because they both have a rich traditional background and I find them to be the most fascinating in my state. Their lifestyles, values, and economic activities receive recognition by most of the communities in Alabama making them both influential groups. My research will discuss each of the cultural groups describing some features that make them unique. I will be researching traditional arts, cuisine, and clothing of the Korean and Chinese. While looking at these themes, I will bring out the thematic expressions that make these subcultures unique. The thematic expressions exhibit in distinct features of the subcultures’ clothing, cuisines and traditional arts.
While analyzing the clothing of the subcultures, the focus will be on themes like gender and social class. The assessment will describe the inequality propagated by the types of clothes that members of the subcultures wore. The analysis of the distinct cuisines in the Korean and Chinese cultures will lay emphasis on popular foods and how economic factors affecting choice of food. The assessment of the traditional art will cover the classical forms of art in the cultures and the popular artistic expressions in these cultures. The research also looks at the influence of government authority over the preference of artistic expressions.
Koreans culture – clothing
The traditional Korean clothing is marked by the traditional hanbok that is a combination of two items. The hanbok has vibrant colors and simplistic lines with no pockets. The upper part is called the jeogori, a blouse-like shirt having longer sleeves for the men and females (Yoo, 2006). Women adorn skirts called chima while men wear pants called baji. Compared to western style pants, baji do not fit tightly. The roomy nature of the cloth is due to a design aimed at making the cloth ideal for sitting on the floor. The upper class within Korea laid great emphasis on wearing brightly colored clothes and accompanied them with jewelry and footgear as well as headdresses. During winter, the Koreans wear cotton-wadded dresses and fur coats while silk garments are worn for the rest of the year. The regular people wore white, dull clothes as dyed clothes were only reserved for weddings and other ceremonies as was restricted by law. Although the social status surrounding clothing has waned within the ethnic group, the Koreans still deem certain clothes as superior to others (Kim, 2011).
Traditionally, Korean cuisine comprises of rice, vegetables, and meats. However, with the changing lifestyles heralded by the tough economic conditions, consumption of rice has gone down significantly. (The Korean Government, 2012). Traditional families however still consume a great bit of rice in their diets. Rice is useful for making rice cakes and a type of porridge called congee. Beans are another large crop in Korea. The mung beans are the most popular among the people. Mung beans are the green type and are considered most appealing. Beef, chicken, and pork are the main types of meat consumed by Koreans. However, among these people, a unique dog is raised mainly for the purpose of consumption. This dog is known as the nureongi. Dog meat is eaten during the summer months; it is usually eaten in soup or roasted. Soup is another favorite meal among the Koreans. It is served with the main dish during meals. Kimch’I is the national dish for Koreans and it consists of fermented or pickled mixture of many vegetables with the dominant ones being daikon radishes and Chinese cabbages. The Koreans also have specific food customs for various ceremonies. One of these ceremonies is that used to commemorate the dead. During this ceremony rice, noodles meats, soy sauce, fish, rice cakes, fruits, and liquor are served (Chŏng, 2009). The ceremony is known as the jesa.
The Korean community has had a long history of classical literature. Some of this literature was written by late Chson and Koryo who wrote sijo poems with themes on loyalty. Some of the prominent Korean novelists include Hwang Sun-won and Kim Tong-ri. Some literature dates back as far as the 7th century. The Koreans also engage in sculpting of bronze, stone, and rock figures. One such rock figure is the Sakyamuni Buddha found at the rotunda of the Sokkuram Grotto (Chiu & Genocchio, 2011). Korean performance arts involve music and dance that evolved from 3,000 years of religious ceremonies. Traditional dances are performed during many yearly celebrations and festivals. These involve costumes, certain colors, songs, and instruments. Frequent court dances are jeongjaemu practiced at banquets. Ilmu is practiced at rituals of Korean Confucian (Jung & Choi, 2012). Korean music is dominated by two genres: Chong’ak and minsok’ak that represented soft music and energetic music respectively.
Chinese culture – clothing
Chinese traditional clothing was generally referred to as hanfu although each social class had their own style of dressing. The upper class wore tough black leather shoes for formal occasions. The rich men wore bright, beautiful silk shoes. They had leather on the insides and rich women wore bright silky lotus shoes. Wealthy Chinese women also practice bound feet for the purpose of prestige. Most poor men and women wore black cotton shoes or thongs. The commoner also wore tunics. Women wore tunics to the ground and men wore them to the knees. During winter, the poor wore padded jackets over the tunics. The clothes of the poor people were made of ramine or hemp and those of the rich were made of silk The Chinese military wore many different codes on their clothes to show their ranks. The most popular was the Mandarin square or ranking badge. In addition, colorful hair knobs were placed on their hats. (Chinese Government, 2012).
Rice is the staple food for most of the Chinese. The rice is served alongside porridge, congee, served with shrimp, vegetables, and pickles. It can also be served with bamboo shoots, salted duck eggs, and tofu. Complimentary serving to the meal would be vegetable soup. Most of the Chinese eat all types of animal meat such as, duck, beef, pork, pigeon and lamb. The Chinese also consume large amounts of freshwater creatures such as shrimp, crabs, lobster, and frogs (Wakiya, 2008). During celebrations, fish is considered a main dish. The Chinese are not selective on the parts of animals they eat. They eat the skin, fat, blood and internal organs. Vegetables are the next important staple food in the diet. These consist of leafy greens, cabbages, beans, mushrooms, carrots. Tofu is another important food source it comes from bean curd.
The government of China has a strong influence on what the Chinese people express as “art”. Most of the production of works of art is prohibited by the Communist Party. Although the state pays artists for their works, it also stifles their progress (Villard, 2010). Chinese literature consists of visual poems, for example the Book of Songs and the Lament. The field of literature has diverse writers. The culture has westernized writers such as Lu Xun with works like The Rickshaw Boy (Lau, 2008). Chinese poetry is the highest honored literary genre. Traditional poetry includes shi, ci, qu and a prose poem fu. These poems are all rhymed forms. The Chinese are also known for their graphic painting that depicts the efforts of achieving a balance between yin and yang. Calligraphy was important in Chinese culture as well. It is a form of art using writing scripts with a wiring brush, brush pen, an ink stick, paper, and an ink stone. The ink slab and ink stick are very essential in Chinese calligraphy. Music is another traditional art. Some of the first musical instruments are classified into three categories. These categories are the string, wind, and percussion instruments. The eru is a two stringed-bowed instrument or also known as a spike fiddle. An example of a wind instrument would be the sheng. It is a mouth blown instrument with vertical a set of pipes. An example of a percussion instrument would be the biqigu. It s a very tiny drum played with one stick.
Similarities between Korean and Chinese cultures
Both the Chinese and Koreans cuisines and clothes are influenced by the phenomenon of social class. In the Korean culture, this was symbolized by the color of clothes. The poor wore white while the rich wore brightly colored clothes. In the Chinese culture, poor men and women wore black cotton shoes while the wealthy wore silk shoes. In terms of their dietary preferences, both the Chinese and Koreans consume large percentages of rice and meats. (Chŏng, 2009). Within the performing arts, both the Chinese and Koreans developed painting, music, and dance as ways of expressing their talents within the society. Largely, China and Korea share the same root of their language. (The Korean Government, 2012).
Differences between Korean and Chinese cultures
Language forms a major difference between these two communities. The Chinese are also more liberal as compared to the Koreans. The Chinese have different food preferences that are mostly oily as compared to the Korean ones that are mostly vegetables. This is because the Chinese have easily adopted Western attitudes and lifestyles such as Western clothing, music, and technology. China is also different since it has over fifty-six ethnic groups, of which the majority is the Han ethnic group (Chinese Government Official Web Portal, 2012). Korea has also maintained a firm grip on the social classes and stratification as compared to China that has opportunities for upward mobility based on merit. (The Korean Government, 2012).
Application in the classroom
The information obtained from the study of the Chinese and Korean cultures is valuable in understanding different cultures and their features. Students can decipher different traditions, their origins, and their significance to the Chinese and Koreans. The information on these two cultures can also be studied with an aim of adopting positive traditional practices that are beneficial within those cultures. An example would be adopting some the artistic practices of both the Korean and Japanese as a source of earning money. This would be like playing the classical wind instruments in the Chinese culture. The knowledge eon these two cultures have led me to appreciate them as unique and equally important. The Chinese believe in eating all the parts of animals because it is economical. The Koreans on the other hand put large emphasis on their ceremonious rituals.
Materials and methods used in the essay
In my research, I used the local library and other virtual libraries as well. When using the local library I asked the librarian to help me locate books on different cultural aspects of both Chinese and Koreans. In addition, when using the virtual libraries I went to the search engine and typed in words like, Korean and Chinese food, lifestyles, art, cultures. I looked at many different, journals, articles, textbooks and so forth. . I also looked at internet sources using the same key words in the search engine mentioned and took down notes as well adding government website. Then I wrote down several different materials and decided on which would be most helpful for my report. The most valuable sources were the Chinese and Korean government websites. They were the easiest to locate and had almost everything about the two cultures. I also found the book, Korean Culture and Korean Thought, to be handy as well. It had a lot of information about what I needed exactly for my paper. I used different methods to get my paper ready while I researched. For my web research, I copied and pasted my information into Microsoft office and saved it and printed it out. Then I wrote my source on the paper so I would not get my sources all mixed up. Then I went over that information and highlighted what I felt would be essential for my paper. When I went to the library and researched, I took notes down in my notebook. This report contributed to my increased knowledge on Asian cultures. I now know that even though we are different we have lifestyles, morals, families and other ways that are similar. I feel comfort knowing that people may look, dress, even eat different but we still have family bonds, fears, hope, and dreams that are the same no matter where you come from. This report would also be very helpful in the future, if I were to teach a class on Asian foreign communities. This is because I would be able to relate with them. The resources alone have opened so many doors to the content I could use as a teacher. This leaves me feeling excited, and more knowledgeable for my future in teaching and as well as for my future students.
Chinese Government Official Web Portal. (2012). GOV.cn. Retrieved from http://english.gov.cn/2006-02/08/content_182626.htm(Primary)
Chiu, M., & Genocchio, B. (2011). Contemporary art in Asia: A critical reader. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. (Primary)
Chŏng. (2009). Korean cuisine: A cultural journey – the world of Korean cuisine, the Korean cuisine of the world. Seoul: Thinking Tree. (Secondary)
Jung, E.-Y., & Choi, H.-J. (2012). Acceptance Patterns and Meaning of Tales Appearing on Dance as a Performing Arts Contents for the Journal of Korean Contents. The Journal of the Korea Contents Association, 12, 3, 123-138. (Secondary)
Kim, S.-Y. (2011). Dressed to Kill: Women’s Fashion and Body Politics in North Korean Visual Media (1960s-1970s). Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 19, 1, 159-191. (Primary)
Lau, F. (2008). Music in China: Experiencing music, expressing culture. New York: Oxford University Press. (Primary)
Villard, F. (2010). ‘Class’, ‘Race’ and Language: imagining China and the discourse on the category ‘Han’ in the writing of Marxist revolutionary Qu Qiubai (1899-1935). Asian Ethnicity, 11, 3, 311-324. (Secondary)
Wakiya, Y. (2008). Haute Chinese cuisine from the kitchen of Wakiya. Tokyo: Kodansha International. (Secondary)
Yoo, K. J. (2006). Korean culture and Korean thought. Azijske in Afriške Študije, 10, 27-41. (Primary)
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