Do I even fit in here?


Before you start reading this, please do not get me wrong.  By no means I am trying to deny the Korean side of me, or saying Korea is the living hell on earth (it’s not!).  After all, I grew up eating Korean foods, still looks for kimchi, have regular craving for garlic and peppers, watches Korean TV shows occasionally, likes old Korean temples, palaces, history and traditions.  I really enjoy talking about that side of me – through that I get to access to the unknown parts of world.  Not only that I accept, but also I am happy to be a Korean, and also a Northeastern Asian.

Recently I started to wonder I actually fit in to the South Korean society, and be a happy full member of it.    Beside the fact that my parents do not have a mainstream Korean way of thinking and I grew up in United States, my MBTI results made me doubt even more.  In college, I had ISTJ – Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.  ISTJs are all about facts and rules, no BSing, aka inspectors.  Few weeks ago, a fellow TCK put an interesting topic on TCKid community, under assumption that maybe TCKs share certain type of MBTI.  Just out of curiosity, I took it again.  This time I got INTJ – Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging.  INTJs are all about goals, efficiency and practicality – aka, masterminds.  I coud definitely see myself in both types.

Unfortunately, it seems like my MBTI types characteristics, and as that MBTI type what I value, are not that valued in South Korea.  While many South Koreans know the facts and efficiency are the backbones and scaffoldings, doing so is often frowned upon, causing reactions like “it is too inhumane/cold” or sometimes simple “you just can’t do that!” “how dare you! That’s rude!”  It is common to find that facts and efficiencies are thickly sugar-coated or even dismissed for some other purpose.

Written rules and manuals and regulations are easily bent.  Sometimes a certain person can just fly over the rule or responsibility, because that person is older/holds higher position/affiliated with someone high in position/important client, etc.  Yeah, I read the Geography of Thoughts and understand Asians view the rules as something to be applied subjectively and personally.  But when fellow Asians just throw it at you, it’s not pleasing. ISTJs hate rulebreakers, and INTJ have no respect for someone who does not do their job, regardless of authority or position.  Oh boy, that’s me.

The western sense of individual territory/privacy is interpreted differently (or maybe even can be said it does not exist here) in South Korea.  Being nosy and poking around in western sense is often interpreted as social and caring.  I become hellfire unleashed if someone, especially that is not that close with me, intervenes into my territory.  INTJs get flipped when people do not leave them alone for doing the job.  I guess this is why Yoon and HS got under my nerves so much.  And maybe my MBTI types explain why I was so much at east in Japan, where pretty much everything was manualized, and US, where people see rules as something to be kept and applied evenly.  Maybe each country has different MBTI types as majority…?

Now an orderless, completely unorganized contemplating – please do not scroll down if you don’t want to read ramblings.

Anyhow, whether I like it or hate it, I know it is important to experience with different business culture and have a good knowledge of how things work.  I expect it to be difficult, and I am willing to experience it. If I am to apply for a new job, it would better be somewhere more structured and systemized than my current workplace.  To achieve that, I will have to apply for big-name companies since there are lack of options in South Korean labor market. But as I wrote before, those big-name companies have really complicated, strange, weird hiring process.  And the chance is, even if I get in, I will have to deal with possible power-harassments and peer pressures just thrown at my face, without having enough time and space to learn them step-by-step – even more so because I speak the language, I hold the same nationality and I look like one of them.

Whenever I juggle with the idea, or try to plan about applying these big name Korean companies, I can’t help thinking: what’s all that effort, time and money for?  Is it really going to be worth it?

I really do not plan to live in South Korea forever and ever; after all I do not feel like this is my 故郷, and I am pretty sure what I value is pretty much the opposite of what South Korean society values at large.  I do not feel like I am being myself at complete ease.  Say I take the grad school option (probably law school).  It’s well-known fact that you need at least 2 years of real life experience if you want the best of what grad school can offer to you.  What if I still have to come back to work at South Korea, because of the damn immigration regulation or bad economy? If I am to go to grad school, I want it to be my ticket of getting out of South Korea – or at least work as a semi-foreigner position.  Should I just go for the grad school option right away? Or see how things go in terms of job?  If I go for law school, wouldn’t that limit my future options?

…my original intention was to ponder about major MBTI types by country, but look where my posting ends.  Maybe I think too much on things that are not imminent.

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