You know you watch too much Asian dramas when you gesture to someone with an open, hand-up palm… and instantly feel like you’ve deeply disrespected them.
A few years ago, I learned first-hand that some gestures aren’t universal. I was in the doctors office and kept giving my nurse a thumbs up to show I understood… until I learned that was the equivalent of the birdie in his native country.
Similarly, the way you gesture to people in East Asian cultures is important. From varying sources for varying reasons, its traditionally disrespectful to motion someone over with the palm up–and even more so if you only gesture with a finger (which happens all the time in western culture). For some cultures its a way to call dogs and other animals over, in others it symbolizes death.
This doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen or that doing so will get you arrested (although according to one site it might in the Philippines), just that traditionally it’s rather rude. And I have noticed in my K-Drama journey that they don’t beckon to each other with a palm up–it’s more often to the side, or facing down (interesting because that usually signals “go away” in western culture). And they rarely (never?) point something out with a single finger–it’s always the whole hand.
I still point at things, but I admit it feels a bit uncomfortable these days. And beckoning to someone? I haven’t used my palm up in years now. What about you guys–have your gestures changed because of K-Dramas?