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Will I clash with Korean culture?
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abright1dea



Joined: 06 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:51 pm    Post subject: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

I want to ask something that is my biggest reservation and been on my mind for a while and I hope people will be kind with whatever their answer is.

I am American and am pretty set on teaching in Korea in the fall. I love kids, traveling and have tutored in the past.

I am working in Europe for a year, and having been my first time out of North America, it's clear to me how my American individualistic mindset is just not the norm in other parts of the world. I am very aware of my own personal rights. I don't know exactly what I mean to say, so I'll just give a few examples:

I was in Amsterdam and shared a taxi with 3 people, all Dutch, on the way to the airport. The taxi driver tried to over charge us. I politely told him that he was ripping us off and I would give him what I thought was a fair price and if he didn't like it, he was welcome to follow me into the airport and find a police officer to enforce it. He screamed at me and I told the other people (who I didn't know) what I thought was a fair price for the trip (having made the trip to the airport before by taxi). They didn't want to upset the man so they handed over the money he demanded, knowing full well he was ripping them off. It was more important for their not to be conflict and to not upset someone who was bullying them and stealing from them.

Another time, I was on the subway with my (American) boyfriend who was visiting me from the States, in a different city. I told him that I thought it was funny that in this city, if you are caught without a Subway ticket, they take your information and mail you a fine, or you can pay a reduced fee on the spot. He thought it was funny that these Subway checkers, who didn't seem to have much more authority that a "mall cop" (as we call them in the US) could actually do that. He asked what would happen if someone just refused to give their personal info. 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.

So I guess my question is, will I personally clash with the collective Asian/Korean culture, if my individualism is very important to me? I consider myself a polite person and am sensitive and non-judgmental of cultural differences, especially if I'm the outsider, but I am just wondering how much the difference in culture could affect my happiness. I had very mild culture shock coming to Europe, but at the same time, personal liberties are important to me and it scares me a little that Korea is so different than America, for example, medical records are not private, and it's poor form to tell a superior that they are mistaken. That you're expected to not challenge your boss or point out they've made an error. That's just silly to me (however, I think I could do that for a year).

What have your experiences been, both in the workplace and just in your life in Korea in general when experiencing cultural differences?

Thanks
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crescent



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: yes.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What research have you done about your host city?
What research have you done about your workplace?
How do you feel about ageism, sexism, and xenophobia crossing into racism at times?
If you're overweight, how would you feel about being stared at, talked about openly, or scoffed at openly?
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?
How would you feel about not being able to get things like limes or shallots at all?
How do you feel about constant noise pollution? The large possibility of having noisy neighbours that keep you awake at night?


Last edited by crescent on Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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abright1dea



Joined: 06 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What research have you done about your host city? I have just began the process. I think I want to be in either Seoul or Busan, simply because they're large cities. Open to suggestions though.

What research have you done about your workplace? Just reading on this board. Sounds like there are good and bad experiences and the bad ones are horrible.

How do you feel about ageism, sexism, and xenophobia crossing into racism at times? Obviously they bother me, but I think I could put up with subtle prejudices for a year.

If you're overweight, how would you feel about being stared at, talked about openly, or scoffed at openly? Luckily, I'm not overweight.

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? Fine.

How would you feel about not being able to get things like limes or shallots at all? Limes? Really? I guess that's fine.

I think what really concerns me is that I like my "Western" or "American" bubble. Here in Europe, I have noticed that my friends are all Native English speakers and that I haven't really made effort to make friends with the locals. I don't know if it'd be the same in Korea, but I think it could be. I've also read that this is a BAD thing, but to be honest, it sounds scary to just dive right into being friends with a bunch of people from a different culture. To what extent is it okay to stay in one's bubble in Korea? Will I not last? Of course I am coming to have the experience, but if anything, being in Europe has taught me that I have my own limits and things I want to preserve about myself. I admit I'm a little ethnocentric when it comes to the US (which absolutely surprised me, and i didn't even realize until I left). Does anyone else feel the same? I will make the effort, of course, to be respectful and integrate, but I guess all the complaining on this board about Korean culture really makes me hesitant.
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crescent



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Location: yes.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's easier for foreign women to make friends with the locals. You may have to weed through a few odd ones first. It's entirely possible to maintain a bubble as well.

How do you feel about constant noise pollution? The large possibility of having noisy neighbours that keep you awake at night?
How about living in a small box, close to others living in small boxes, with very little green space around.
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hellofaniceguy



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Location: On your computer screen!

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everybody clashes in all cultures. And most clash within their own culture!
Some folks click and others don't! If you find yourself stressed or clashed...move on to other friends, city or job!
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Dodge7



Joined: 21 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alpha female--my kind of woman. If you don't take crap, especially some low lives trying to steal your money, then you are going to have a rough time in Korea.
The overall disrespect you will face on a daily basis will eat away at you. Kids will banmal you and even do it in front of the other Korean teachers and they won't stick up for you.
People talking about you on the streets in front of your face.
Getting groped on the crowded subways. It WILL happen to you if you commute during rush hour and live near Seoul or Busan.
You are on the same rank as a Mexican hired farmhand in California in the States. I guess you'll just have to see it all for yourself to believe.
Good luck!


Last edited by Dodge7 on Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kyosuro



Joined: 11 Jul 2009

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Dodge 7. I am a white female and have lived and taught in Korean universities for the last four years. Last year I studied Korean language enough to be able to generally understand what a majority of Koreans around me are saying, and when the comprehension started clicking in my brain I was shocked by how much petty, disrespectful gossip there is in Korea. Every Korean doesn't speak like that, but as Dodge 7 explained, kind people won't stick up for you or tell rude people to be quiet. Everyone just looks the other way and hopes it won't come near them. Koreans are terrified of becoming victims of bullying.

If you stand up for yourself and refuse to be treated badly, then it is possible that a spiteful Korean will take your photo and put it on the Korean internet along with descriptions of how "bad" of a person you are, and then it will spread all over the city where you live, and a campaign of bullying will begin. It happened to me. Koreans think of themselves as one group, and non-Koreans are outside that group and therefore not worthy of the same respect. Also, if a Korean says that a foreigner in Korea did something "bad", a majority of Koreans will automatically believe it, and those who don't will be too scared to go against the majority, so they will be silent.
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NYC_Gal 2.0



Joined: 10 Dec 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Become friendly with the older ladies in your neighborhood and you'll be fine. Dress well and you'll get more respect.
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nautilus



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

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dodge7 wrote:
Alpha female--my kind of woman. If you don't take crap, especially some low lives trying to steal your money, then you are going to have a rough time in Korea.
The overall disrespect you will face on a daily basis will eat away at you. Kids will banmal you and even do it in front of the other Korean teachers and they won't stick up for you.
People talking about you on the streets in front of your face.
Getting groped on the crowded subways. It WILL happen to you if you commute during rush hour and live near Seoul or Busan.
You are on the same rank as a Mexican hired farmhand in California in the States. I guess you'll just have to see it all for yourself to believe.
Good luck!



kyosuro wrote:
I agree with Dodge 7. I am a white female and have lived and taught in Korean universities for the last four years. Last year I studied Korean language enough to be able to generally understand what a majority of Koreans around me are saying, and when the comprehension started clicking in my brain I was shocked by how much petty, disrespectful gossip there is in Korea. Every Korean doesn't speak like that, but as Dodge 7 explained, kind people won't stick up for you or tell rude people to be quiet. Everyone just looks the other way and hopes it won't come near them. Koreans are terrified of becoming victims of bullying.

If you stand up for yourself and refuse to be treated badly, then it is possible that a spiteful Korean will take your photo and put it on the Korean internet along with descriptions of how "bad" of a person you are, and then it will spread all over the city where you live, and a campaign of bullying will begin. It happened to me. Koreans think of themselves as one group, and non-Koreans are outside that group and therefore not worthy of the same respect. Also, if a Korean says that a foreigner in Korea did something "bad", a majority of Koreans will automatically believe it, and those who don't will be too scared to go against the majority, so they will be silent.


Two good pieces of advice right there.
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actionjackson



Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Location: Any place I'm at

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nautilus wrote:
Dodge7 wrote:
Alpha female--my kind of woman. If you don't take crap, especially some low lives trying to steal your money, then you are going to have a rough time in Korea.
The overall disrespect you will face on a daily basis will eat away at you. Kids will banmal you and even do it in front of the other Korean teachers and they won't stick up for you.
People talking about you on the streets in front of your face.
Getting groped on the crowded subways. It WILL happen to you if you commute during rush hour and live near Seoul or Busan.
You are on the same rank as a Mexican hired farmhand in California in the States. I guess you'll just have to see it all for yourself to believe.
Good luck!



kyosuro wrote:
I agree with Dodge 7. I am a white female and have lived and taught in Korean universities for the last four years. Last year I studied Korean language enough to be able to generally understand what a majority of Koreans around me are saying, and when the comprehension started clicking in my brain I was shocked by how much petty, disrespectful gossip there is in Korea. Every Korean doesn't speak like that, but as Dodge 7 explained, kind people won't stick up for you or tell rude people to be quiet. Everyone just looks the other way and hopes it won't come near them. Koreans are terrified of becoming victims of bullying.

If you stand up for yourself and refuse to be treated badly, then it is possible that a spiteful Korean will take your photo and put it on the Korean internet along with descriptions of how "bad" of a person you are, and then it will spread all over the city where you live, and a campaign of bullying will begin. It happened to me. Koreans think of themselves as one group, and non-Koreans are outside that group and therefore not worthy of the same respect. Also, if a Korean says that a foreigner in Korea did something "bad", a majority of Koreans will automatically believe it, and those who don't will be too scared to go against the majority, so they will be silent.


Two good pieces of advice right there.

I would agree with this. And just to add my two cents, as an American who spent 2 1/2 years in Europe and almost 4 here, if you're having issues in Europe, you're definitely going to have issues here.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

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.

.
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nero



Joined: 11 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="actionjackson"]
nautilus wrote:
Dodge7 wrote:
Alpha female--my kind of woman. If you don't take crap, especially some low lives trying to steal your money, then you are going to have a rough time in Korea.
The overall disrespect you will face on a daily basis will eat away at you. Kids will banmal you and even do it in front of the other Korean teachers and they won't stick up for you.
People talking about you on the streets in front of your face.
Getting groped on the crowded subways. It WILL happen to you if you commute during rush hour and live near Seoul or Busan.
You are on the same rank as a Mexican hired farmhand in California in the States. I guess you'll just have to see it all for yourself to believe.
Good luck!



kyosuro wrote:
I agree with Dodge 7. I am a white female and have lived and taught in Korean universities for the last four years. Last year I studied Korean language enough to be able to generally understand what a majority of Koreans around me are saying, and when the comprehension started clicking in my brain I was shocked by how much petty, disrespectful gossip there is in Korea. Every Korean doesn't speak like that, but as Dodge 7 explained, kind people won't stick up for you or tell rude people to be quiet. Everyone just looks the other way and hopes it won't come near them. Koreans are terrified of becoming victims of bullying.

If you stand up for yourself and refuse to be treated badly, then it is possible that a spiteful Korean will take your photo and put it on the Korean internet along with descriptions of how "bad" of a person you are, and then it will spread all over the city where you live, and a campaign of bullying will begin. It happened to me. Koreans think of themselves as one group, and non-Koreans are outside that group and therefore not worthy of the same respect. Also, if a Korean says that a foreigner in Korea did something "bad", a majority of Koreans will automatically believe it, and those who don't will be too scared to go against the majority, so they will be silent.


Two good pieces of advice right there.

I would agree with this. And just to add my two cents, as an American who spent 2 1/2 years in Europe and almost 4 here, if you're having issues in Europe, you're definitely going to have issues here.[/
quote]

Just chipping in -- I agree with Dodge and kyosuro.
It can be incredibly frustrating here. You wil have to leave your sense of entitlement at home, because you are right on the bottom of the food chain here.
There is no 'fairness.'
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abright1dea



Joined: 06 Nov 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

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.
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Will I clash with Korean culture? Reply with quote

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.

.
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Old fat expat



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Location: a caravan of dust, making for a windy prairie

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This looks like it will be a wonderful thread!
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