December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
Ever wonder why your Korean friend (or at least his/her parents) firmly believe in the ‘all work, no play’ mentality? It’s probably because the whole nation is obsessed with studying, and that’s never been as clearly summarized as in the following picture. I laughed so hard when I found out about this! This picture has been circulating in Korean cyberspace for a few weeks now, of five titles (all translation is mine) that have been collected to show that “The reason why Koreans are so tired is not because of the liver” (picture from 한국인이 피곤한 이유, 간 때문이 아니다):
In order from left to right are the following titles:
10대 꿈을 위해 공부에 미쳐라: In your teens, study like crazy to reach your dreams
20대 공부에 미쳐라: In your 20s, study like crazy
30대, 다시 공부에 미쳐라: In your 30s, study like crazy again
40대 공부 다시 시작하라: In your 40s, start studying again
공부하다 죽어라 : Study until death
As demonstrated by the above titles (they’re not part of series, although it seems like they could be, right?)… studying and being crazy while doing it is often recommended, and lauded in Korea culture. The Korean people’s passion for education and their dedication to studying is not new; however, this picture delineates the obsession in a way that is more clear (and funny) than before. I don’t read that many Korean books but I hope there are some out there to counter these titles with something like “In your 20s, try new things” and “In your 40s, adopt a new hobby”.
December 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Even though I’m of Korean descent, I experienced strong cultural shock when I went to Korea for the first extended period of time in 2010. Then, when I went back in 2011, I thought I would be prepared for the trip but I again experienced culture shock, this time in the workplace. The lessons illustrated below are just one example of the differences between Korean and American (business) culture. Some lessons bear repeating, so if you missed this two-part article a few years back, here it is again. (Both articles by Tom Coyner, Soft Landing Consulting, 2008).
The basic story is that company A’s “Division Two” hired a local business development manager, ‘Mr. Kim’, but that miscommunication concerning job titles as well as American versus Korean labor laws (and termination procedures) led to the firing of Mr. Kim without due process.
Division Two’s Asia regional manager (let’s call him Mark), who had prior Korean work experience, came to Seoul from their regional headquarters and hired a bilingual Korean man (we shall refer to him as Mr. Kim) who had just turned 60 years old, though he looked and acted much younger. Mr. Kim was given the artwork for his business cards and told to produce bilingual cards in Korea.
A few weeks later, Mr. Kim was sent to Acme’s regional office for orientation. During that time, Mr. Kim showed Mark his business cards. To Mark’s chagrin, Mr. Kim’s card depicted him as president of Acme Services Korea. Mr. Kim’s real position was that of local business development manager ― a euphemism for salesman. Mark ordered Mr. Kim to recreate the cards with the correct business title. « Read the rest of this entry »