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Left-handers in Asia

We often get messages from club members around the world telling us about their experiences and how left-handers are treated in their country. We were recently shown an article about how left-handedness is seen in Asian countries and how it is largely suppressed in a lot of places.

In South Korea, for instance, left-handedness has long been associated with impurity — giving or receiving items must be done with the right or both hands, never the left. One lady commented “When I have to write or sign something — a sales slip, for example, the proprietor hands me the pen with their right hand, as usual, and I accept with my right hand to be polite. They then watch in amazement as I switch hands, sign left-handed, switch hands again, and hand back the pen with my right”.

While 5.8% in South Korea are left-handed, China has less than 1%. While one argument asserts that many Chinese characters require the use of the right hand, a 2013 study by Howard Kushner, professor at the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory University, noted that this could be due to a combination of reasons.
“In China, we can see how a combination of traditional values and practical considerations seems to have merged to reduce both the actual and reported prevalence of left-handedness. When we add in the population of India, and much of the remaining Islamic world, we can conclude that for two-thirds of the world’s population, being born left-handed exposes one to discrimination and stigma.”

That's an awful lot of people having problems in their lives due to being born left-handed!

See the original article on left-handers in Asia here

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11 comments on “Left-handers in Asia
  1. Rhi says:

    The claim that “Chinese characters can only be written right handed” is ignorant garbage. The International Left-Hand Calligraphy Association proves that wrong.

  2. Stephanie Mahony says:

    I am surprised to read these facts as i thought that in 2019 lift handedness would be excepted world wide, this makes me so mad i did not ask to be borne left handed and i did not have an easy time in school in the fifties being left handed and these bad memories will never leave me.
    I know that this world is geared for right handed people as i see this every day but to think it is associated with impurity and other things just disgust’s me.

  3. Sarah says:

    I wonder if there are fewer left handers than right due to our anti-left history in which people, believing lefties to be witches or similar, persecuted, shunned or otherwise rejected them. This would have had the effect of reducing the tendency towards being left-handed in the general population by removing the strong L genes from the gene pool. Just an idle hypothesis; I have no scientific evidence to support or refute it as yet…

  4. K. SAKTHIVEL says:


  5. roni says:

    My grandfather from China would turn his head when I used my left hand because it was “evil”. The French word for left is gauche. In the Old Testament bible a bad king was killed by a left hander because they checked only his right side for a weapon!

  6. David Ehrlich says:

    Chinese characters not left-hand-writable? When I studied Japanese, I had no problem forming the characters with my left hand. These are the same characters as used in Chinese, except there are fewer of them.
    When I studied Sanskrit, we were taught how to form the letters for both right-handed and left-handed students.
    Interestingly, when I write Hebrew, I don’t curl my hand; Hebrew is actually easier for left-handers than it is for right-handers. (Actually, I no longer need to curl my hand for any writing.)

  7. Christiane says:

    Only my thesis but to me it looks as if quite many of today’s civilizations stem from forced right-handedness. In my observation, lefties usually use BOTH brain hemispheres on a much higher level which allows e.g. ‘thinking out if the box’ and thus, solution finding. Today’s cultures build no more yet more or less only use or repurpose what was build up over the whole time of civilization.

    China is in my view a good example for that shift, from holistic and with a wider view, see the undertsanding of ‘Chi’ from long time ago, turned into a non-solution-oriented but destructive mentality, see their killing of birds after a huge famine and all insect life in some regions, now having to fertilize fruit trees by hand thanks to such actions. Anyone with at least a minimum understanding of how life is connected can only shake his head.

    For Europe, the shift in my eyes happened with the Romans, a mainly warring ‘culture’ which extracted all they are so much praised for from other civilizations while subdueing huge regions with sheer force – thanks to their war tactics which required reight-handedness so that the cohorts could form their battle tactics synchronizedly. The decadence, the brutality, the suppression and extreme chauvinism is historically well elaborated.

    Today, it is the computers, periphal devices like printers, controllers etc, and smartphones which force us – and our kids – into right-handedness. Unnoted, unconsciously, nevertheless. As we look at our societies of the last decades: What exactly was newly invented? Not much, in fact. Almost everything which is seemingly innovative is simply built from concepts having existed before, only using the newer materials, more complex processes and more sophisticated yet basically always linear organisation. Nevertheless, ‘specialists’ are still being hyped – while often not much apt of seeing anything beyond their scope. And where do we move to right now? Into one human failure and disaster after the other.

    Back to my point:

    It is the use and synchronization of course of BOTH brain hemispheres which is i.m.o. fare more easy for lefties which allows culture and civilization to grow while having the whole system in mind.

    Which is at the same time what gives lefties much trouble – already due to a far more complex way, non-dualistic of seeing the world – within a system which is more and more strictly made for righties.

    Have a great day!

    • David Ehrlich says:

      I use my mouse with my right hand. Should I ever get carpal tunnel syndrome, it will be my right hand, not my left hand which will be inconvenienced.

  8. Lyelle Palmer, Ph.D. says:

    When comparing left-handedness to brain dominance about half of lefties are left hemisphere language dominant, indicating that their left-handedness is spurious/false.
    True lefties have language dominance in the right hemisphere and that can be quickly determined in kindergarten using a speed test of foot writing under stress. No one ever taught pupils to write with their feet, so the writing foot is a spontaneous choice. Do not tell the student what the speed test is all about. Just tell the kids to stand upright balanced equally on both feet, then say, “As fast as you can, WRITE YOUR NAME ON THE FLOOR WITH YOUR FOOT! You want their interest to be entirely on speed. Some students may switch feet. Generally, the indication is clear in seeing who the true lefties are. For coordinated movements and sighting, it is important that the sighting eye also be the left eye in order to hit targets and quick aiming in sports and games. Cross dominance results in a lot of heartache connected with failure embarrassment and not understanding why.

  9. John Rosado says:

    God damn right handed planet!!! No wonder the world is so evil…. Now you know why! The right handedness are the causes of the world’s problems!!

    • Jim Renderman says:

      Add the Roman Catholic Church to the list of anti-leftys. Many years ago, as a 3rd grade student in a Catholic school in Chicago, I was forced by a psychotic sexually repressed woman wearing a habbit (aka a Nun) forcing me to write with my right hand. Nope, I couldn’t do it. This went on until I told my mom, who told the Nun to let me use mt left hand or else she was personally going to physicaly beat her. End of one of many left handed difficulties.

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