Roboseyo has a series with tips for Koreans wanting to make and keep foreign friends (in Korea), and foreigners wanting to make, and appreciate, Korean ones. Here's "how to make friends with a foreigner" part one, two, and three, as well as equivocations that fit between those last two. He's also written part one and part two of how to make Korean friends and how to not make an ass of yourself while doing it. Here's one of his tips for Koreans:
And an excerpt of his first tip for expats:
See, good expat, you're lucky to have a Korea friend who has the forbearance to do this for you, and you really should be appreciative and grateful to the friend who's helping you out. Seriously.
Yeah, I know it's frustrating living in a country where suddenly I can't pay my phone bills on my own anymore... but if you have a Korean friend who is HELPING you pay those phone bills, it's the barest of good manners to take a break from resenting Korea for not being an English speaking nation, and to show some gratitude toward the people who are helping you navigate the ins and outs.
And before whatever objection comes into your head, ask yourself: when was the last time back in your home country, that YOU helped that Bangladeshi family that moved in down the street, sort out a dispute with their landlord? Yeah that's what I thought. Bear that in mind next time you're thinking about making yet another needy call to your Korean buddy.
And one for Koreans:
Either talk to me, or ignore me, but please please please don't stare at me. Making eye contact three times is about the limit: after that, you have to either talk to me, or stop looking. This is especially true for men staring at female foreigners, and triple-especially-super-true for staring at female foreigners' body parts. They know you're staring at their breasts. They always know. Just trust me on this one.
You'll have to ask him why he didn't use this picture:
An honest, thorough look at both sides, and I think he has more to come, though I bet he's preaching to the choir: I don't know how many dunderhead Koreans or dumbass English teachers he counts among his readers. A thoughtful read and useful reminder nonetheless.
Over at Kimchi Icecream, Jason has many lengthy posts of interest to native speaker English teachers [NSETs], and they're worth a read for some insight into the frustrating reality of our jobs sometimes and ways to make it better. One post in particular I'd like to link to is his on cultural taboos and NSETs, with a list of fourteen things we screw up. Here's a bit of him writing about foreign teachers who ask "why?"
Korean Neo-Confucianism has very strict rules for power relationships and hierarchies. I would use the military example again as a way of explaining that every person (solider) has a rank (both socially and at work), and that the rank is extremely specific in terms of what you can say and do, and what you CAN’T say and do, and how you can and can’t interact with higher ranking and lower ranking Koreans [. . .]
A good example of this strictness in social interactions might be experienced during the first month or so at your new school when you may be asked to sign forms that are in Korean language and your co-teacher may or may not translate and explain everything on the form. When you try to insist they explain everything they’ll likely be shocked, and perhaps even insulted or hurt. It is expected and assumed to such a degree as it is usually unconscious on the part of the co-teacher that you should blindly trust them because you have been assigned to their care, and they are your ’senior’ (they outrank you). Think of this as a kind of modern day patron-client type relationship wherein your patron does things to help you be successful in your career and daily life while at the same time expecting a high degree of respect and obedience to whatever they ask you to do in return for their patronage.
English is a multi-kajillion dollar industry in South Korea, yet practically no thought has been give to how to fit native speaker English teachers into it. A lot of the idiocy does stem from policymakers, principals, and co-teachers, and a tour around Kimchi Icecream or my "English in the news" category provides plenty of examples. But when it comes to day-to-day life in Korean schools, foreign teachers can be their own worst enemy. I won't tell you how many of those faux pas I committed, but the worst part is you can't really make it up. Unless you bring food into the office for everyone, that's about it.
I'd also like to direct your attention toward ROK Drop. As you may have heard, there's a movie coming out in April about one interpretation of the massacre at No Gun Ri, and has this as one of its promotional posters:
I wonder how many Russian guys they rounded up to play the "Americans." Both Extra! Korea and Gusts of Popular Feeling looked at the similarities between that poster and the ones out of the other Korea.
ROK Drop has done a lot of research into the myths surrounding the massacre and his findings include:
* Out of the original 12 American witnesses quoted in the Pulitzer Prize winning Associated Press article that the only 4 GI’s that fully confirmed the AP’s account of what happened were later proven to not be there, the 4 more were intentionally misquoted by the AP, 1 veteran’s testimony is inconsistent and suspect, and the other 3 said no massacre occurred at No Gun Ri.
* The forensic evidence does not support the claims of a massacre of 400 people. What the forensic evidence does support is the presence of enemy weapons at the bridge.
* The aerial imagery evidence does not support the claims of a massacre of 400 people.
* The historical documents do not even support the claims of a massacre of 400 people at No Gun Ri.
* Here is probably the most telling fact, that despite intensive searches of the No Gun Ri area not one bone was ever found despite supposedly 400 people being killed there. To further put this into perspective other areas where far less people were killed during the Korean War extensive skeletal remains were found, but not at No Gun Ri.
He also objects to the director waiting four years to release the movie so that it coincides with the 60th anniversary of the war.
Finally, if you're still with me, I'd like to bring up an article about health care written by T.R. Reid last summer. Originally appearing in the Washington Post, I caught it when it ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It asks why the United States isn't looking abroad for solutions to its healthcare nightmare:
In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really "foreign" to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them.
He writes near the end:
This fragmentation is another reason that we spend more than anybody else and still leave millions without coverage. All the other developed countries have settled on one model for health-care delivery and finance; we've blended them all into a costly, confusing bureaucratic mess.
Which, in turn, punctures the most persistent myth of all: that America has "the finest health care" in the world. We don't. In terms of results, almost all advanced countries have better national health statistics than the United States does. In terms of finance, we force 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. In France, the number of medical bankruptcies is zero. Britain: zero. Japan: zero. Germany: zero.
That column coincided with his book The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, though I'm familiar with Reid through his excellent little book Confucius Lives Next Door. I've quoted from it in entries on Korean productivity, Japanese coming-of-age ceremonies, and weird English. You can get it in Korea from Whatthebook.com.