electropath, very interesting information on the culture in Korea. Thanks for sharing. I would say that people speak more quietly into cell phones now than in years past. However, there are very few headphone mics as far as I'm aware. It would be great in the future here if it is like you describe there.
I know I am commenting much later than the strip, but here in Korea this problem is nearly nonexistent. Perhaps western countries use the mic on a headphone wire as well -- I haven't been home in a while. But on a crowded subway, l cannot even tell whst the petson next to me is saying into their phone because everyone has mastered a super version of the indoor voice, for privacy's sake. I am wowed!
Erm, some people do talk to strangers, though that's a relatively rare phenomenon. And all of this is newer than the old tribal and village structures where everyone basically knew everyone else and did a lot of communicating. But folks like have to mellow out, too, and accept that change occurs. It's not the most enjoyable experience to go around hating everyone and everything, and is in fact an awful waste of time and energy.