The anthropologist Edward T. Hall describes two contrasting communication cultures: high-context cultures (messages are covert and implicit with use of metaphor and reading between lines, much nonverbal communication, reactions are expressed in a reserved manner) and low-context cultures (overt and explicit messages that are simple and clear, verbal communication, and visible, outward reactions).
Research on Korean (high-context) and US-American (low-context) communications practices show that Koreans' reserved manner is often mistaken for lack of assertiveness. Besides, Koreans generally create more ambiguous messages and prefer indirect communication as they tend to value Confucianism which emphasises harmony. Not taking a stand and being rather indirect helps others save face and therefore fosters harmony (Merkin, 2009).
Yang Liu designed pictogrammes that illustrate stereotypes and differences (some of them described by Hall) between Eastern and Western cultures. The blue images refer to Westerners, the red ones to Asians (images via).
Confronting a Problem
Sense of Self
How to Express Anger
Queue when Waiting
Merkin, R. S. (2009) Cross-cultural communiation patterns - Korean and American Communication. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 20