So here’s why I got so philosophical.


This question rose after I saw a quiet ugly fight over one of my LinkedIn groups’ discussion board.  Ben (all names are in alias) uploaded a recent Lonely Planet’s voting result on Top 10 Most Hated City.  Seoul made it to #3, with the following comment: It’s an appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it. So oppressively bland that the populace is driven to alcoholism.  Ben commented, “I absolutely love this city, but I guess some people see it differently.”

The board was flowing in a good wind.   Then a Korean professional, “Doug” joined the discussion…and he ended the party.  I’ll just say that he got very emotional, used a ton of exclamation marks and question marks, and all of sudden jumped to blaming everything on “unqualified English teachers in South Korea.”  Of course some got very irritated and decided to strike back explain: chill out, it’s a mere opinion poll from one of the million travel media, and there’s no need to spread your anger all over the board.  Let’s keep this board civil.

Doug’s response was: even more exclamation marks, question marks, and terms like “are you out of your mind?” “don’t worry, I already sent the letter to the Lonely Planet” “you are just funny, I don’t trust you.”  Even more unbelievably, he apologized for Sarah, but not Young Hee.  Instead of apology, he sounded like he is the true patriot who loves his city and she is not and she should be embarrassed.  At that point, I was almost screaming – what kind of moron is this?  Apology to a white woman, but not to someone of Korean influence?  Just because she is Korean?  Now you call this a racist.  Throughout the board, it was so hard to just figure out what he wants – I had no other ways but to conclude that he just does not want a single negative reaction to his beloved country, thought it is embarrassing to have all this “foreigners” reading and commenting on it (despite the fact most people there are familiar with Seoul), yet another Korean on a mission.

Apparently, he is a student at University of Chicago’s MBA program and holds a manager at a German company’s Korean branch.  I have to say my opinion on U of Chicago’s MBA program and business school in general has fallen down.  After all, it’s business school, not Arts & Letters MA program – as long as you have some nice recommendations, some nice sounding career history and financing source, you’re in.  But to be honest, it makes me so sick to my stomach – I can just see him, bragging around his Chicago MBA diploma saying “I got the Chicago MBA degree, man.  I am so global and internationalized, sophisticated.”  I almost wanted to screencap and e-mail the Booth School of Business.   I see a lot of this kind of people.  Yes, it’s good that you earned a presitigious degree from US and worked hard for it.  But don’t swagger with it saying you are the most internationalized man in this little peninsular country, when you do not have a single local friend there and your little social circle was full of Koreans like you and you bash-talked about fellow Koreans who is out of your norm.

But thinking about it, there were plenty of pricks who are just not happy about the world and sending so many anger-infused articles to the school newspaper back in my college, too.


2 responses »

  1. Boy do I get this!!!! I see this all thei time in the States with Americans. These are the same people who will get you fired, keep you in low paying jobs, and spit on you when you’re down so they can get ahead. Remember what you saw on that message board and look around your office for people just like this.

    Unfortunately, they are everywehre, and come in every color and every nationality. I’m so sorry jiyoon — I really do know how you feel.
    Best wishes,

    • Suzanne,

      Yes, like the demotivational posters, we all know one of those “interesting people.” It seems like they are everywhere 😦 Thanks for the comment.

      The funny thing about Korean media and society in general is, that they almost venerate someone with western degree as the frontmen of globalization and sophistication, instead of looking into what that person did in the institution.

      I understand that South Korea is VERY homogenous society when US has more diversity, but I am always irriated whenever I see people here fantasize too much about the western society over the ocean. Hopefully I can write a bit more about this when the time comes. Oh boy!

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