The Korean taxi as microcosm
Here's how I knew I'd arrived back in the R.O.K. this morning:
After passing through "Wonderful Immigration!" (make whatever bizarre face you want, but that is what the sign says), I was almost immediately met by a middle-aged man, quite Asian in appearance, who asked me where I was going.
"Seoul," I replied - which wasn't quite true, actually, but a fair approximation. Like saying you're on your way to Atlanta instead of Mableton.
"I will take you," says he, smiling.
"No thanks," I said. "I'm jumping on the subway."
"Mmmm," says he. Then he points in the direction of a set of descending stairs on my right. Says: "You go down there."
And that is Korea. In the U.S., you find your taxi driver; he or she does not come to you. In Turkey, you will be all but bodily thrown into the vehicle of a driver, whether you want his or her services or not. In Colombia, you will see armored cars waiting to pick up many arrivals. In Ireland, you must find your taxi driver in the nearest pub, put him in the shower, etc. Here, the drivers come after you for your business, but upon being refused, assist without any prompting in helping you reach your destination anyway.
I do like this country. Never let it be said otherwise.