Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A common complaint that I've heard many waegs utter is that Korea is the place where logic comes to die.

Now I can understand why some may think that way, but really you must understand the Korean mind!

Logic follows very different rules here in the ROK.  That doesn't mean Koreans are illogical.

If you think people should act like the fellow on the left, you will be sadly disappointed.

If you expect consistency, order, and foresight informed by hindsight, you'll merely end up as another pleb ranting on Dave's ESL cafe about how nothing makes sense.

What you need to do is feel it.

Logic is situational and depends very much on the mood of the people involved in the interaction.

This is why kibun and nunchi are very important to understand.

As an illustration, I showed my older male superior the outline for a project.  At the time his kibun was in good order, and he thought it was fine.  When it came time to execute the project, because his superior had dropped a shitstorm into his lap, and his kibun was on tilt, he proceeded to change the plan at the last minute causing huge problems in execution.  There was nothing wrong with the original plan, or how it would turn out; he was simply off because of his kibun.  My nunchi is quite developed and I understood his situation, so I didn't rip off his head and shit down his neck, or even suggest it was too late to change the specs.

My underlings, knowing how my kibun was now a steaming dog turd, and nunchi informed them that I was set to commit random acts of vandelism, quickly helped me to patch it up in a way that reset the kibun of the whole group.

Problem solved!

Except I still feel dirty for having my name associated with the end result of our project.  But that my friends doesn't really matter.

So: if you plan on staying in Korea long term, learn these terms and get good at going with it.  You'll save yourself a lot of headache.


Anonymous said...

Just many foreign in Korea think "oh, why Korean so stupid. They just eat the kimchee and just they drive crazy and just they talk in angry voice and just all the old peoples think I'm just Yankee dog. Fucking Korea! So stupid! In America we have cheeseburger and know everythings!"

Yes, Korea have many problem. But Korea history make that and still we are changed. Korea has many good things that America don't. In Korea we have "Jung" and we have the respect for many thing to make our future. Yes is strange to many Western people, but I agree your mind that is best to let sleeping dog sleep is expression. You know Korea very well I think.^^

Todd McCoy said...

I envy your short and simple analysis of this issue. I think ones opinion on this is definitely subject to change, depending on the day when one is asked. Sometimes I'm ready to go freakin postal. Sometimes I think my life is in danger. Sometimes I think these people are brilliant, and that the world would be a better place if it was owned and operated by Samsung. Sometimes I really think we should all live in love motels.

Anyways...thank you Mr.F5waeg. Your Jedi wisdom is appreciated.

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