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Korean deliverymen and 'palli-palli' culture

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Noh Kyung-nam, a barogo food deliveryman, drives through southern Seoul on a scooter in this photo taken on April 10. / Courtesy of Richard Pennington
By Richard Pennington

After becoming an expat in November 2007, I had to adjust to the sight of motor-scooter food delivery men blatantly disregarding traffic laws.

They ride on sidewalks, they go the wrong way on one-way streets, they navigate between lanes of cars and buses and most of all, they ignore stop signs and red lights. Who could not be startled to observe them at major intersections, pausing and then zooming straight through or making left turns?

Drivers of cars and buses patiently wait, but not time-pressed delivery men. (I use the male pronoun intentionally because if any women do this kind of work, I have not seen them.)

They appear to be unconstrained by mundane matters like traffic laws. The behavior of these hellions on two wheels has only worsened in the last 12½ years. Most perplexing of all is that the police witness such constant traffic violations and blithely let them go.

I just had to learn more, so a friend and I called McDonald's and ordered two Big Macs, two orders of French fries and two Cokes. Assured that our food would arrive in no more than 30........

© The Korea Times