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Will I clash with Korean culture?
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ghostrider



Joined: 27 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imagine that you're on a bus. You're having a conversation with a friend. An old Korean man approaches you and tells you that you're being too noisy. He tells you to shut up. How would you react? That happened to a female friend of mine. She ended up getting in a shoving match with the Korean man. Fortunately, the bus driver intervened and defended her. The Korean man probably felt he had the right to tell her what to do because she was younger, a female, and a foreigner. You have to think about how you'll deal with situations like that. Sticking up for yourself won't always result in a happy ending. That being said, I think it's best to live in Seoul or Gyeonggi Province if you want to avoid such cultural clashes. Koreans in those areas are generally more cosmipolitan.
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ghostrider



Joined: 27 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Watch this informative video in which a Korean girl gives advice for dealing with Korea's confucian culture.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ4I3S1kcEU&feature=youtube_gdata_player


Last edited by ghostrider on Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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nautilus



Joined: 26 Nov 2005
Location: Je jump, Tu jump, oui jump!

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghostrider wrote:
Sticking up for yourself won't always result in a happy ending.


Save self-defence for the most threatening situations only.

If you react to all obnoxious behaviour, you'll be in a fracas every five minutes.

K-police love to victimise foreign males who happen to be with korean women.
If you're a single white female though they'll probably actually try to help you. That goes double if you're blonde.
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abright1dea



Joined: 06 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghostrider wrote:
Imagine that you're on a bus. You're having a conversation with a friend. An old Korean man approaches you and tells you that you're being too noisy. He tells you to shut up. How would you react? That happened to a female friend of mine. She ended up getting in a shoving match with the Korean man. Fortunately, the bus driver intervened and defended her. The Korean man probably felt he had the right to tell her what to do because she was younger, a female, and a foreigner. You have to think about how you'll deal with situations like that. Sticking up for yourself won't always result in a happy ending. That being said, I think it's best to live in Seoul or Gyeonggi Province if you want to avoid such cultural clashes. Koreans in those areas are generally more cosmipolitan.


Thanks, that's reassuring because I definitely wouldn't get in a shoving match with someone for saying anything. I'd likely give the guy a look that says, "ok asshole" and then continue talking but at a lower volume.
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abright1dea



Joined: 06 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nautilus wrote:
ghostrider wrote:
Sticking up for yourself won't always result in a happy ending.


Save self-defence for the most threatening situations only.

If you react to all obnoxious behaviour, you'll be in a fracas every five minutes.

K-police love to victimise foreign males who happen to be with korean women.
If you're a single white female though they'll probably actually try to help you. That goes double if you're blonde.



I'm not a reactive person, the only point I was trying to make in this thread is that I have a very individualistic mindset and am wondering how I'll function in a collective society. I am also blonde haha
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Moondoggy



Joined: 07 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:14 am    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

ttompatz wrote:
abright1dea wrote:
ttompatz wrote:
abright1dea wrote:
The Subway checkers didn't have guns or cuffs and could't arrest you. It is strange to me, where I live in Europe now, that a society can function like this.


Why would anyone in a civilized society need cuffs and a gun to enforce the rules?

I suspect that you may have problems adjusting (anywhere) in Asia outside of Manila.

.


I just meant that they weren't real cops.


That begs for a dig in the ribs about people coming from a police state trying to enter civilized societies.

Why does it need to be a "real cop" with a badge, gun and cuffs to provide enforcement or write a ticket? What would give you the right to refuse? (rhetorical questions)

Life abroad is not like home.
Being alpha and female is not a good combination in Asia.
Adjusting to a male dominated society may come as a shock to you.

Misogyny is alive, well, and mostly legal in Asia.
There is a fine art to being female and successful in Asia.

Welcome to "Over the rainbow land" there Dorothy.

.


Stop giving negative opinions.

Bunch of sad people on Dave's esl board...
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:56 am    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

Moondoggy wrote:


Stop giving negative opinions.

Bunch of sad people on Dave's esl board...


This from someone who can't catch a taxi?

She'd be lucky if I was the worst she had to deal with.

.
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NYC_Gal 2.0



Joined: 10 Dec 2010

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly, dress well and try not to be confrontational (except when necessary) and you'll be fine. One can easily be an alpha while "playing the part" here. Show your status through how you carry and present yourself.
Don't dress like a kid in jeans and a t-shirt, or, if you do wear jeans, make sure that they are tailored and dark, with nice shoes (not sneakers) and a blouse or cardigan.

It sounds silly, but it does make a difference.
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nautilus



Joined: 26 Nov 2005
Location: Je jump, Tu jump, oui jump!

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

abright1dea wrote:

I'm not a reactive person


If that is true you'll do just fine.

If I'm in a foul mood I tend to blow up at Koreans. It only happens like once every few months I'll yell in the face of some qeue jumper or shove someone who bumps me.

Most westerners find Korean manners shocking, but most of the time its better to just ignore the irritations.

Quote:
the only point I was trying to make in this thread is that I have a very individualistic mindset and am wondering how I'll function in a collective society. I am also blonde haha


You'll be treated well, probably better than other employees. A blonde foreign female is like a golden goose to any school.
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EZE



Joined: 05 May 2012

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just like anywhere else, you'll meet Koreans who will accept you the way you are and they'll be as cool and as enjoyable to spend your time with as anyone you'll ever meet.

And it's also true that Korea seems to have an unusually high percentage of people who will expect you to conform to their cultural norms down to the most minute detail. Unfortunately, some of them will probably be at work where you have no choice but to see them five days a week. But for the most part, you won't have to deal with it outside of work, except for the occasional random individual. And the random jerks always make for the most colorful stories for your siblings and friends back home anyway. So many things that make you Rolling Eyes at the time will make you Laughing months or years later. So it's all good.
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Kimchifart



Joined: 15 Sep 2010

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

crescent wrote:

How would you feel about not being able to get things like plums, raspberries, and nectarines except for 2 weeks per year when they are in season?


C'mon don't exaggerate. You can't get raspberries at ANY time of the year.
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kyosuro



Joined: 11 Jul 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was "fine and happy" enough for my first three years here. Yes, I experienced and witnessed a lot of behavior that was rude from a Westerner's perspective, but I brushed it aside and still thought optimistically about the population and culture as a whole.

Then I learned the language, and my perspective on Korea changed greatly. While I was learning the language, I also watched many (over 70) Korean movies, and when you do that, you learn a lot of values and behaviors you previously weren't aware of. Women of all ethnicities are looked down on here as inferior to men, and are talked down to regularly. Recently I've been watching quite a few English movies with Korean subtitles, and I've noticed that if the English language in the movie elevates a woman above a man, or even puts her on a level playing field, the Korean subtitles are often translated inaccurately or sometimes even left out entirely. A Western influence that should be empowering to women here is corrupted to maintain the male dominant power structure.

If you are white, attractive, and friendly, you will often be treated well by Korean men, but sometimes poorly by Korean women, who, depending on many factors, may view you as competition. If you learn to speak Korean you will become a significant threat to Korean women, and then you'll really start to notice the disrespect.

If you are set on coming to Korea, then I advise you to live in an English bubble, learn only the most basic survival Korean words and phrases, dress up everywhere you go, be passive and smiling and act somewhat helpless in your interactions with Koreans, and imagine that everyone you meet is wonderful. Find things about Korea that you like and praise them to the Koreans you interact with. Save your complaints for conversations with other Westerners.
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crescent



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: yes.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kyosuro wrote:
Then I learned the language, and my perspective on Korea changed greatly.

Likewise here. I have to turn the volume up on my earphones when using public transport just to keep from having my day ruined.
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s.tickbeat



Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Location: Gimhae

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're going to come here and expect to be happy and content all of the time, forget it. Besides the regular homesickness, you'll experience 'expat rage' - moments of blinding anger and frustration that make you want to set the country on fire, often for something rather benign. The pressure builds up.

What's more, you have NO entitlements here. The law is not the law, it's a set of rough guidelines that change from situation to situation, depending on who you're dealing with. Sexual harassment from your boss? Get used to it, you western hussy. Xenophobic discrimination? Awww. . . that's too bad. . . but this is Korea, and that's *Korean culture.* United Nations humans rights standards? NOPE.

If you're seriously questioning whether you'll clash with Korean culture, the short answer is yes. Yes, you will. The real question is, are you okay with that? And, how will you adapt to the changes the country demands of you?

Much like you seem to be, I was a very strong, very independent woman, with a strong sense of self, of identity, and of justice. And in my first year, I was fucking miserable - I complained to co-workers about x, y, or z situation in the country (ensuring that they eventually hated me), confronted my boss on even the smallest infraction of the contract, and generally behaved (socially, 'cause I'm a very small person physically) like a drunk gorilla offending EVERYONE. Even the expats, 'cause they can be huge moralistic assholes too.

However, by the second year I'd learned better. I'm still a strong, independent woman with a strong sense of self, and an even stronger sense of justice. However, I'm no longer a blunt instrument. I've learned subtlety, tact, and precision. I'm sure that I still upset people - a lot of people - but not in a way where they lose face (unless someone really pisses me off, in which case I take their 'face' and smash it so they can't recover, like my ex-boss, who ended up losing his business).

My point is, how adaptable are you? You CAN come here and thrive without abandoning your principles, if you're willing to adapt your behavior. You CAN'T come and expect to maintain the entitlements, privileges, and rights that you would have at home or in Europe.
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nautilus



Joined: 26 Nov 2005
Location: Je jump, Tu jump, oui jump!

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kyosuro wrote:
Korean subtitles are often translated inaccurately or sometimes even left out entirely


I noticed that too. The stuff that Korea most needs to hear gets left out!
Its like that discovery channel program about coughing/sneezing and why you need to put your hand over your mouth. Everything got translated except that.

Crescent wrote:
I have to turn the volume up on my earphones when using public transport just to keep from having my day ruined


I simply wear earplugs all day if I'm going to be on the subway or walk around Seoul. Deadens all the grunting and throat-clearing.
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