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Will I clash with Korean culture?
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fustiancorduroy



Joined: 12 Jan 2007

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm always curious about people who say "learning Korean greatly changed my perspectives of the country for the worse." Maybe they speak and understand Korean much better than I do, because when I'm out in public (not too often since I got a car), I've never really heard people saying negative things about me, that I could tell. Maybe these people are more prone to looking for things to criticize about Korea and her people. Or maybe it's because I'm a big man -- 6'4" and over 250 pounds -- who looks, from a Korean's perspective, pretty well into his 30s. Maybe it's all these things. Maybe it's none of them.

In any case, I've found learning Korean to be empowering. I can clearly get people's attention and tell them exactly what I want without any problem or hesitation. I've always hated playing the "dumb foreigner" card. If you act helpless, then, yeah, many people, especially Koreans, are more likely to look down on you. If you want to make even the slightest bit of change in the perspective of Koreans, learning as little Korean as possible is NOT the answer, as far as I can tell. But that's up for the OP to decide for herself.


Last edited by fustiancorduroy on Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:39 pm; edited 3 times in total
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NYC_Gal 2.0



Joined: 10 Dec 2010

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fustiancorduroy wrote:
I'm always curious about people who say "learning Korean greatly changed my perspectives of the country for the worse." Maybe they speak and understand Korean much better than I do, because when I'm out in public (not too often since I got a car), I've never really heard people saying negative things about me, that I could tell. Maybe these people are more prone to looking for things to criticize about Korea and her people. Or maybe it's because I'm a big man -- 6'4" and over 250 pounds -- who looks, from a Korea's perspective, pretty well into his 30s. Maybe it's all these things. Maybe it's none of them.

In any case, I've found learning Korean to be empowering. I can clearly get people's attention and tell them exactly what I want without any problem or hesitation. I've always hated playing the "dumb foreigner" card. If you act helpless, then, yeah, many people, especially Koreans, are more likely to look down on you. If you want to make even the slightest bit of change in the perspective of Koreans, learning as little Korean as possible is NOT the answer, as far as I can tell. But that's up for the OP to decide for herself.


These things likely do play a part.
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fustiancorduroy



Joined: 12 Jan 2007

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NYC_Gal 2.0 wrote:
fustiancorduroy wrote:
I'm always curious about people who say "learning Korean greatly changed my perspectives of the country for the worse." Maybe they speak and understand Korean much better than I do, because when I'm out in public (not too often since I got a car), I've never really heard people saying negative things about me, that I could tell. Maybe these people are more prone to looking for things to criticize about Korea and her people. Or maybe it's because I'm a big man -- 6'4" and over 250 pounds -- who looks, from a Korea's perspective, pretty well into his 30s. Maybe it's all these things. Maybe it's none of them.

In any case, I've found learning Korean to be empowering. I can clearly get people's attention and tell them exactly what I want without any problem or hesitation. I've always hated playing the "dumb foreigner" card. If you act helpless, then, yeah, many people, especially Koreans, are more likely to look down on you. If you want to make even the slightest bit of change in the perspective of Koreans, learning as little Korean as possible is NOT the answer, as far as I can tell. But that's up for the OP to decide for herself.


These things likely do play a part.


You're probably right. But I also think it has to do with the fact that I typically eat at nicer restaurants and shop at nicer stores than most English teachers; at nicer places, the Koreans are more generally educated, well traveled, and refined overall. Yet, I almost never see English teachers at these places. The only other Westerners at these places are older professional exapt and embassy types.
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KimchiNinja



Joined: 01 May 2012
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it tends to work out fine for a person deeply interested in exploring a foreign culture and learning from that culture. It opens up all new possibilities; ways to live and new ways to think about things. For a defensive person with a bunch of hangups from their old culture and no sincere interest in learning it probably won't be that rewarding. Most people fall into the second category.
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Moondoggy



Joined: 07 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 10:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

ttompatz wrote:
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.

.


that's not me. that's Scorpion.
besides I'm not that stupid.
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recessiontime



Joined: 21 Jun 2010
Location: Got avatar privileges nyahahaha

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thread does not disappoint . Esp that poster that got labeled a bad person on the k-interwebs. Lol.

People have such high standards. When I left for Korea I knew the whole thing was going to be a short term survival mission. I never tried to treat the place like a new home. People need to expect the worst going there and be pleasantly surprised that the paychecks come, the water runs, the shelter keeps you cosy, and k food and taxis come cheap.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hilarity has thus ensued.

My advice to the OP is to pay attention to NYC Gal and s. tickbeat's posts and largely gloss over everything else.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fustiancorduroy wrote:
You're probably right. But I also think it has to do with the fact that I typically eat at nicer restaurants and shop at nicer stores than most English teachers; at nicer places, the Koreans are more generally educated, well traveled, and refined overall. Yet, I almost never see English teachers at these places. The only other Westerners at these places are older professional exapt and embassy types.

And another contributor is the nice clothes you wear and the nice car you drive and the air of confidence you give off due to being successful for so long. People can pick up on that, and they admire those with a lot of wealth.
http://www.waygook.org/index.php/topic,42174.msg272949
Did you decide on the Porsche, the Nissan, or the BMW? Do you have two cars now...or just the Audi?
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Privateer



Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Location: Easy Street.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's misleading to think of Korean society as 'collectivist'. It's highly hierarchical and conformist, but, within that framework, the level of competition puts so much pressure on that people may think only of their own selfish interests, and be passive lumps of mud when it comes to acting cooperatively. IMO Americans are better at teamwork than Koreans.

OP, if I read you correctly, you are a feisty combative sort. This is probably bad at first because you'll end up getting in all sorts of confrontations that don't need to happen, and it takes time to figure out which ones don't need to happen. In the longer term, however, having that kind of personality is a very positive thing because you can end up getting trampled on here. Every ex-pat in Korea needs to develop a thick skin and to stick up for themselves - because no one else will. Don't let the entitled ajossis get away with it!
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Privateer



Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Location: Easy Street.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fustiancorduroy wrote:
I'm always curious about people who say "learning Korean greatly changed my perspectives of the country for the worse." Maybe they speak and understand Korean much better than I do, because when I'm out in public (not too often since I got a car), I've never really heard people saying negative things about me, that I could tell. Maybe these people are more prone to looking for things to criticize about Korea and her people. Or maybe it's because I'm a big man -- 6'4" and over 250 pounds -- who looks, from a Korean's perspective, pretty well into his 30s.


Totally agree with that, but then I'm 6'4" and 220 pounds myself, and now over 40 too.

You're less likely to get bullied when you're male, you're big, and also if you're older. Just goes to show the bullies are cowards, don't it?
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Died By Bear



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Location: On the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For some, conflict and combat are exciting. If you enjoy this and don't mind the adrenaline rush, then Korea is for you!

Go for it, 16 years ago I made my way to Korea without any websites to read, or any research. I made friends and learned about 'the way things go' through word-of-mouth and experience. The two best teachers.

While internet boards give you perspectives from other people, you will never really know what those people are like until you've met them, and believe me plenty of them here are not normal. They might seem decent because they know how to disguise themselves for internet forums - but you won't know the truth until you've met someone in person.

So what if you clash with Korean culture? Plenty of others have, and they made it just fine. If you don't like it, go somewhere else and teach. The one thing you have on your side is TIME. I assume you're still in your 20's. Go ahead, make mistakes, learn, have FUN.

Just do it.
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mike in brasil



Joined: 09 Jun 2003

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just don't forget you're a foreign guest worker, then all your interactions with Koreans will make sense.

There is no "equality and justice for all" here.

To be fair, there are cool things about living in Korea though.
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wishfullthinkng



Joined: 05 Mar 2010

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

unless you know how to make any system go in your favor which most people can't do, then it sounds like you might have some troubles here. ttompatz hit the nail on the head with his post about society and sexism here.

the most miserable expats here are the ones who refuse to adapt and preface many of their statements with "in my country we do it like this..."

don't be one of those people (many of whom strangely seem to stay in countries they hate for longer than they need to). if you are cognizant and realize THIS IS NOT YOUR HOME nor the country you are familiar with and try to understand, accept, and deal with it, then you can have an incredible time here.
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nautilus



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

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Died By Bear wrote:
For some, conflict and combat are exciting. If you enjoy this and don't mind the blood money payouts, then Korea is for you!


Fixed it for ya.
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Yaya



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a Korean-American guy who has lived more than 15 years in the motherland, I can say I used to wanna fit in but now I stand my ground. Of course, I have the advantage of being fluent in the language and having an F-4 visa, but I've gone through quite a few jobs in which I was asked to play along and I refused. Admittedly, I'm not in ESL but in the corporate world, and gosh, Korea, Inc. STINKS to high heaven.

So to the original poster, I'd say you should be all right. You're lucky in that you are planning to come NOW instead of years ago, when I would've told you don't come. I know of people who have stood their ground here, and some do just fine even if they are not Korean. Many Korean Americans also refuse to play the game because oftentimes, they get majorly cheated as I did.

Just realize that things won't work in Korea like they do in the West and that you will have to let a few things go. As for being confrontational, well, a good friend in Korea who is a professor asked me, "Do you wanna vent or go off over something OR do you wanna get what you want?" I went for the latter and it's been greatly helpful.
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