Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Welcome, Korea Herald Readers

Hi there. If you're a Korea Herald reader who decided to check out my page after reading the "Expat Living" article, "Why Do Koreans Get So Defensive?", welcome!

While what I wrote there (if that link doesn't work, try this one) is a pretty good summary, it is certainly not all that has been said about the topic, either here or elsewhere, and of course, it should also be remembered that I am not the final expert about anything: I'm mostly glad that people are talking about this now, instead of feeling afraid to say anything, for fear of offending someone.

The series of essays The Korean and I wrote, with Gord Sellar's help (more later on him) about complaining expats and defensive Koreans are here, and they've started a very interesting conversation online, which I've tried to document with links and summaries.  If you haven't seen this online yet, I recommend you start with these:

Second question:
Why do Koreans take Criticism about Korea so Poorly?
My thoughts. The Korean's thoughts.

some other responses from other pages

If this topic really interests you, also take some time to read the worthy Gord Sellar's views on the topic:
"Who's Complaining In Korea"
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I also talked about this on the Seoul Podcast, here, during the first half of the podcast (before the whole thing devolved into a bunch of dirty bum jokes.)

And if you have something you want to say about it, go ahead and put it online, and send me the address where I can find it. Or e-mail your thoughts to me at roboseyo [at] gmail [dot] com or write them in the comment board to this page. If you're going to criticize me. . . go ahead, but try to have your ducks in a row, and check the rest of the conversation, to see that you aren't repeating something another person's already said.  I'm really glad if this discussion continues -- I think it's worthwhile for us to take a self-critical look in the mirror from time to time, and this is something that everyone bumps into after a fairly short time in Korea.

For posterity, then, or in case you haven't read them, or would like a fairly good summary of the discussion so far, and don't really care to do all the reading following all those links would entail: here are The Korean's Herald article (from the wonderful site, "Ask A Korean!") and my article in the Herald.  

PS: Thanks also to Matt Lammers, the editor of Korea Herald's Expat Living page, for giving us a soapbox excuse to draw attention to ourselves venue!

UPDATE: Gord Sellar's essay went up today, and it, too, is worth a read.  At the KH site, here, or here, kept on my blog, again for posterity.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting how many Koreans can complain about other countries in Korean, but we shouldn't complain about them in English?!

If we said, for example, that Koreans can only complain about the US, but only in English and only if they lived in the US, 90% or more of them wouldn't be able to complain at all!

I don't complain about the small things in Korea. Things like illegally spitting in public or even the trash on the streets.

I complain when Korean men call my Japanese girlfriend "white man's whore" or something worse.

I complain because I was physically assaulted a few years ago and the police said that there is nothing they can do, I am foreigner and that's the way it is here. I'm not the only one this has happened to believe it or not.

I complain when the say "fuck you Yankee" or "go home Yankee" or worse. I'm not a Yankee, but Americans are good people.

I complain when my friends who are half Korean or gyopo are discriminated against because for whatever reason, they aren't "pure" like Korean nationals.

I complain when they call naturalized Koreans "foreigners with Korean citizenship!"

I complain when the media talks crap about foreigners or when Koreans drive around with signs saying "We are watching you English teachers" and when they print cartoons of some SE Asian guy chasing a Korean girl with a knife like she's being hunted.

I complain about how racial discrimination is not illegal in Korea and how this makes it ok for Korean teachers and students to pick on "half- Korean" children with no worries about being reprimanded for acting in such a way.

I complain because I'm not a person in Korea, I'm a foreigner. I can't even be a hyphenated person in Korea.

I could go on, but what's the point, I'm not perfectly fluent in Korean.

These are things I complain about. These are the things that should be written about. These are the things that matter, not the spitting, pushing in and off of the subway and so on.

I thought, at one time before the '02 and '03 demonstrations, before English Spectrum, before the the US FTA demonstrations and before the US beef thing, I could make Korea my home, but with the increasing xenophobia and other problems, I'm going the way of foreign investment and have decided to leave.

Roboseyo said...

I'm sorry your experience in Korea went that way... in my own experience, Koreans in 2008 are much more tolerant and open-minded, and even Korean laws and regulations are much more open and tolerant, than when when I came here in 2003. . . but progress is frustratingly slow in every society, even when a society KNOWS its weaknesses.

I hope you have a better experience wherever you go next.

Brian said...


Curious how you were able to hide a post like that. Gord's article, I mean, how can you post it yet keep it off your blog?

Roboseyo said...

I changed the date of the post: those two are buried back in 2002 on my blog archives.

On the post writing window, click on post options and you can enter a date for the post to be published: you can set a future date to schedule a post for the future, or set a date in the past to bury a post in your archives, instead of featuring it on your front page.

It's fun squirreling things away like that.