Robseyo just recently posted a blog titled "Why are Koreans Hypersensitive to Criticisms from non-Koreans" found:
http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2008/07/ask-korean-guest-blogger-roboseyo-why_26.html (couldnt get the hyperlink to work..sorry)
He has asked for opinions from "Kimcheerleaders" to his blog, so I decided I would post my response. First of all, while I know your probably being creative in the use of "Kimcheerleaders" I highly doubt you would call other races based on what they eat like "Friedchickenleaders" or "fajitaeerleaders" because Im pretty sure in the US (Im assuming your from the US) you'd be labeled as a racist and Im pretty sure using those phrases in south side Chicago or Cass Ave Detroit would get you shot if not seriously injured. Isnt it ironic how its not ok to use terms like these for other races but its overlooked for the asian races?
I am one of the Koreans that Roboseyo described as "living outside of Korea, and not even able to speak Korean" (paraphrased). However, I believe that I am very in-tuned to Korean society, culture, and history. I have experienced and seen more of Korea and its historical artifacts than many of my Korean friends. And, even though I have lived outside of Korea for the last 22 years of my life, I still have a huge instilled since of pride. Pride that "My" country has done what it has being that its such a small nation. I get goosebumps every Olympics when "My" country gets more medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympics per capita then almost any country. So I guess based on that I am a "Kimcheerleader" according to Robeseyo.
As a response to Roboseyo:
For someone who has lived in Korea for such a long time, it seems that the a fundamental basis of Korean Society has been missed. Im not saying this as a criticism but I think it would explain what he is "missing" in his analysis.
"Saving Face" is perhaps the most important concept to understand when discussing Korean sociological issues and it seems to be missing or way too lightly considered in Roboseyo's post. It is a common mistake for foreigners being that they were not raised in this concept. Many foreigners know of this concept, but do they truely understand the concept? I highly doubt it. I don't think "outsiders" (myself included) can understand how serious Koreans take this and live by this concept. In section 4.5, Roboseyo mentions that one of his commenters responds "Like having my family's dirty laundry aired out", and his response is a little non-chalant about that. I would have to say, to Koreans, criticizing their country is way more than dirty laundry when you are openly criticizing Korea. To put it into our severity, it would be like throwing feces on the American flag. It is impolite to openly criticize (whether constructive or destructive) openly in public.
If Korea has been able to do what it has in the last 50 years, (BTW. Korea is a top 10 major player in the world economy now), then why does it need to adjust? Why is it that western cultures think Progressive means westernizing? Think if the roles were reversed (which honestly I could see happening in the next 100 years, if you factor that China, Japan, and Korea are all "major" players in the world markets and still growing and soon to be added to that list India) how do you think you would react if other countries were telling the US and other western countries that they are "behind the times" and that Progression means "Easternizing" or conforming to the Asian cultures? It definitely would not be received well.
Just because you have stayed in a country for as long as you have, something to remember is your still a visitor. Roboseyo mentioned his best friends wife and being able to give "constructive criticism" because of his familiarity with his friend and his wife. I was wondering, how do you give "constructive criticism" to a society/nation? Are your comments really going to change something and be useful/productive? if not, they are not constructive. Secondly, even with how close you are with your best friend, there are still comments, criticisms or whatnot that you keep to yourself. I can guarantee you that if you told your best friend that his wife was a slut, it would probably dramatically change your relationship with your best friend. So remember while, in Korea (no matter how long), you are still a visitor and certain boundaries shouldnt be crossed. Apparently you have found where that boundary is and my advice would be to stay clear from it. Korean society isnt like American society, its less forgiving of people who like to "stir things ups".
Here are some questions Roboseyo has asked of Koreans:
If criticism of Korea by non-Koreans upsets or offends you, why does it?
Yes. Because does anyone like being critisized? In the US people are used to open criticism, in Asian societies they are not. And to think that Korea has to "develop" and get used to this is frankly unacceptable in my opinion.
How could those views be expressed without upsetting you? Under what conditions ARE outsiders allowed to criticize Korea?
Frankly to be honest, I really don't want to hear what people dont like about Korea. Same with the US, I don't want to hear what people dont like about the US. There are no conditions in which I would openly be grateful to hear criticisms about either country from foreigners. However, What I find that works is you can discuss the differences between the visiting country and what your used too. But just because your used too it doesnt mean its better. This is a discussion of differences, and you need to remember to be overly sensitive sometimes. Remember, what you may think is "bad" or criticism about Korea maybe something that they appreciate. For example, some outsiders view honorifics as "too much" but to a Korean its the way of life. Something to remember, "Opinions are like buttholes, everyone's got one". So for every criticism you have, there are others who will disagree.
I don't think its as difficult as Roboseyo thinks it is with Korean blood out in the world and non-korean blood in Korea. The difficulty is understanding the difference. In 95% of the world determines nationality by where you live and loyalty/allegiance. In Korea, nationality is determined by blood. I think this explains a lot about the culture itself and some of these issues brought up by Roboseyo.
Here are my last responses to the last set of questions Roboseyo poses:
Whence all the negativity on the K-blogosphere, from both sides?
Personally I try to stay out of it. Its not something I want to publicize because I think it detracts from the many great things Korea has to offer. Why focus on the negatives of various cultures. Its not like the Korean society is killing anyone or committing genocide. So why the "urgency" to degrade the society?
Why do YOU think expats complain about Korea?
Because expats complain about whatever country they live in anywhere in the world. I think maybe your more exposed to it in Korea only because your in Korea. Expats tend to be ungrateful and compare everything that is happening to them to what they are used to and to their native country. They dont realize they are visitors and will always be treated as such, even though they sometimes forget they are visitors. And frankly I agree with the philosophy that if you want to complain so much, then leave. If its that bad, leave. No one is forcing expats to stay in Korea. And most of them actually get paid better for being an expat. So that is probably why I have such a short fuse for expats who overly complain. I know I may sound like a hypocrit because Im an expat and I complain about the food here in Africa. But, the food is not provided by the locals it is provided by my company in a canteen that is operated by my company to be western standards. You will never find any words of degradation or criticism of the country or people I work with.
Why do you think critiques are often taken so poorly?
Does anyone take critiques gracefully? Again, you have to understand "Saving face" better to truely understand the how much this means to Koreans in this scenario which you are exploring.
Is it just that the internet makes everything seem more extreme than it really is?
Is there something I simply missed?
I think people post stuff on the internet a little bit too freely because they are behind a computer and not face to face. It would be real easy for me to critique you or anyone out there because of the internet barrier. I could post things that I would never say person to person..
Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps Roboseyo.
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