Ceremony (in Korea) – 2


Fortunately, there were more guests coming to the dinner and reception (at least in the beginning).  On the order of ceremony, three speakers were supposed to make remarks.   University president, fine.  Our director, fine.  The 1st director of this institution, fine.  But, in my opinion…the number is on the verge of “too many” and “alright.”   A nice PPT slides containing pics, trivial information and history run and we happily eat.

End? No.  Here’s the thing about Koreans and practices in Korean style events.   They just have to make someone speak in public, even though it is not planned.  Usually, the forced speakers do not like it.  Yet ironically, if the crowd doesn’t ask them to speak, they are upset.  The original speakers were three.  Along the dinner, I think at least 3-5 additional people made another speeches.  The speech is pointless – it is all about how great our institution is, how it surprised them positively, how they were impressed by us, how they are sure that we have such a bright future ahead of us, implying how awesome and great they/their achievements are, and recently, how international and global this institution is.  Koreans just plant several programs or students or employees that does not look like Asian and say they are so international and global. Yeah, right.

As the daylight submerges into deep black night, the guests were leaving one by one – Did I mention we ordered food for about 70, and at the end of this ceremony, clearly less than half of 70 were still eating? Every time when this important guest stands up, we managers had to pop out and say goodbye to him.  Couldn’t we just assign 1 or 2 people to have a packed dinner at the kiosk so we don’t have to stand up every 30 minutes?  Not only the dinner, but we also have too much rice cake (supposedly souvenir) left over due to the really low guest turnout.  For some reason, my director looked pretty satisfied, saying how it was executed in a nice size with nice air.

Well, here are some things I want to point out.

First, I think our director running a seminar would be much more “fit.” After all, our deputy director was so exhausted – he came back all the way from 2 hrs class with Samsung HR managers (totaling 120) in Suwon, and came back, run another 15 min presentation, and then asked to do the master of ceremony.  Working a bit more than 1 year here, our director really doesn’t do sh*t – pretty common in Korean bosses. He just throws things, expect us to do everything, and just say this and that, instead of setting a goal, figuring out what should be done and doing his portion of work.

Second, from the beginning, it was pretty obvious that not that many guests will be here.  I don’t even know whether we can call this a true “executive education center” – more than half of the guests were in-school faculties and employees.  If I were the director, or whoever in charge of this event, I would make the whole thing just a reception and dinner.

It’s true that showing up in certain occasions and mentioning some meaningless good words is surely a friendly gesture in every cultures.  Sometimes you have to make a speech in non-prearranged setting.  However, if it deviates too much from the rule and significantly disturbs the pre-arranged setting, and people who caused it can get away from the blame and responsibility just because they are older or hold higher position, there clearly is a problem.  And this is what I see as a major problem in South Korean society.

So in the end, that’s how the 10th Anniversary Ceremony was finished and now I am just waiting for the weekend.

Word will travel, oh so quickly,
Travel first and lean towards this time.
Oh, Ill break them down, no mercy shown,
Heaven knows, its got to be this time,
Watching her, these things she said,
The times she cried,
Too frail to wake this time.

Ceremony by Joy Division


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