SEOUL - The children of South Korea are so well behaved, we tell our guide as we see young people bow to their elders, help old people across streets and open doors for their parents.
"Oh, are children in Canada not polite?" wondered Amy Lee, my guide.
"We are taught at a very young age to be respectful to our elders," said Lee. "Our grandparents and parents are wise and we seek their guidance and respect."
And "taught" is the operative word, for Korean children are sent to "manners" schools to learn how to be polite.
The Anyang Manners Education Centre in Gyeonggi-do province is one of the leading etiquette schools in Korea and offers a wide variety of programs ranging from traditional manners to manners for everyday life situations.
Above: New generation keeps old traditions alive.
In its advertisement, the school claims that "good manners come from caring about others ... and good manners not only ake other people feel good but also make them feel more dignified."
"There are several schools just like Anyang in Korea," said my guide, who pointed out the schools mainly teach the country's traditional customs, which are deep rooted in manners.
The most polite kids I've ever met were the ones who agreed to model for me in traditional Korean costumes at the Naganeupseong Folk Village in Boseong, Jeollanam-do province.
After thanking them with a bag of Canadian maple syrup candies for their help, the delighted children, without prompting, lined up, bowed and each shook my hand.
"Good manners are just as important as an education in Korea," said my 20-something guide who herself was always courteous to anyone we met during our journey through this beautiful country. As we left the small town where the folk village was located, the children caught sight of Amy's car, stopped what they were doing and bowed to us again.
"Maybe one day they will open a manners school in Canada," said Amy innocently.
One can only hope!