There is an invisible line between Korean universitiy students according to their age. We can commonly see when we hear female students adress their older peers as
unni or when students use honorific language to their seniors regardless of their age. This is a part of Korean culture owing to Confucianism. However, from the view of
foreign students, this culture is somewhat different.
Three exchange students spoke on this topic: Wang Shengnan (Graduate School of International Studies) from
Adelide Mutinda (International Studies, 2) from
E.V.: When you first attended Ewha did you recognize the different language Korean students use when speaking to older or younger classmates?
Adelide: I recognized it almost as soon as I joined Ewha, since I took a Korean language course and was taught about the different ways to address people from different age groups and in different academic years.
E.V.: Do you think it is necessary to call peers unni?
Shengnan: If I am associated with friends who are much older than me, I will address them in such a way. Otherwise, I would feel a little bit uncomfortable about this especially at school.
Hedwig: It can create an artificial gap between two people just because they are born a few months apart.
E.V.: Do you think it is necessary to use honorific language to address seniors who are the same age as you?
Shengnan: Since Korean people really care about this, I think it is hard to make any change although I do believe people are equal.
E.V.: Do similar situations happen in your own country?
Shengnan: Yes, we have the same title to address people to show respect. In
Hedwig: No, not at all. Respect is more a man/woman issue than one of age.
by Ko Eun-hye