Main Piece: “The birds of a feather flock together. This is big in Korea, because there were a lot of celebrities who had drug problems and would be seen with bad people. Koreans are judging them, and saying that nasty low class people who just got rich still hang out with low class people, but all the smart people hang out together. Family from good background will tend to hang out with similar background family.”
Background: MP grew up in South Korea, and he said that he recalls hearing this proverb the most frequently of any other proverb. He also mentioned that when he got into the United States, he heard this very saying from other people in his friend group and he found it interesting that this saying was as meaningful in our culture as his. He recalls that his parents would tell him this to remind him of the importance of you who surround yourself with. In Korea he said it was very important to make sure that not only you were honorable and did good deeds, but that the people who you spent time with had similar motivations and character traits. He saw this proverb as a way to remind him that he needed to choose his friends wisely, so that he don’t get roped into bad deeds. He also mentions that the idea of “friends” is very selective in Korea, so there are far more close knit groups of friends in Korea than what he found in America. Additionally he said that when choosing his friends at USC, he was very cautious about who he trusted and who he wanted to be friends with as a result of that proverb’s meaning.
Context of Performance: MP told me this proverb while we were at my apartment discussing the different cultural stories and proverbs we remember when we were kids. As I grew up in America, it was interesting to hear a proverb that I too was familiar with and had seemingly no different elements to it. MP was also interested when hearing that I was familiar with it, and he seemed to really enjoy the fact that there was a level of connection between us, even though we are from two very different parts of the world.
Analysis: Hearing this proverb form MP was super interesting to me because I was expecting to hear stories and proverbs that were entirely different from my culture. However, I remember hearing this very same proverb, verbatim, when I was a child as well. I too believe that this proverb is stressing the value of choosing your friends wisely and making sure that you do not sacrifice your own values for the sake of making friends. It is very interesting to see that while South Korea and America are two very distinct cultures, this one proverb seems to have been able to cross that cultural barrier seemingly unscathed. I believe that it is a testament to the fact that both cultures have a very heavy emphasis on the importance of the image you present to people, and the company you choose to keep is a direct reflection of that image. Similar to the proverb “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are,” this one seems to emphasis that no matter how good of an image you put out, your friends and your company speak far louder than you do.