Koreans take pride in being the purest race still in existence in the modern world where people are becoming more and more ethnically diverse. However, that belief is alleged as a mere result of the Japanese assimilation of Korea not a very long time ago – as in the early 1900s* – instead of a continued and uninterrupted bloodline of the “Great Han race” from centuries past.
Pure or not, the Korean culture is definitely one of the most distinguishable even among other East Asians. While very much closely related or relatable to China, Japan, and to some extent Mongolia; the Korean culture has a life of its own and evolves on its own. The Korean popular culture, or globally known as K-pop, is a true testament to that distinction.
The capital city of Seoul is a point in South Korea where the traditional co-exists with the modern. Myeongdong is a district in Seoul that shouts K-pop and is crowded with shops popular among the youth. One of its intersections sometimes becomes a stage where young Koreans perform. I even had the chance to see Exo before I knew they were popular even in the Philippines. I also saw some Koreans bearing placards saying, “Let’s be friends!” or “Free hugs!”
*Imperial Japan launched a campaign convincing the Koreans that the two races descended from the same ancestor and should be treated and should work as a one nation.