Disclaimer. The following post is based on my not-at-all-scientific observations and ONE anecdotal story. So take it for what it's worth, which is nothing.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dave told me this story. One night in Seoul (or wherever) a young guy was walking home when a drunk middle-aged man got in his face. The confrontation quickly escalated and the drunk old man pulled out a knife. A short scuffle ensued and the young man managed to disarm and immobilize the drunk older man. Weeks (months?) later, the whole thing went to court and the young guy actually ended up paying $4,000 because the old man got injured. What did the drunk middle-aged man get for pulling a gank? NOTHING!!!! Crazy no?
The moral here is that it's fiscally responsible to get stabbed in the gut here in Korea ONLY if your assailant is a middle-aged man.
This story, whether it's true or not, is actually pretty telling of the social hierarchy here in Korea. If you were to picture a ladder-like device depicting the order of importance of various ages and demographics, it would resemble something like this. At the top you would have middle-aged men. They are the kings in Korea, they can pretty much get away with anything short of murder. And sometimes murder also. Then you have the elderly man. He's respected, but too weak to actually yell at you or hit you if you disrespect him. Then there are the middle-aged ladies, they TAKE their respect by being pushy and bossy. Then the elderly ladies. Then everyone else. This, of course is within the Korean community. Foreigners aren't at all even on the social ladder (which is dumb and unfortunate, sorry guys).