A comment by newcomer ma posted on yesterday’s blog entry got me thinking about relationships between Koreans and foreigners. Thanks for your perspective–I really appreciate it. As always, I enjoy hearing other people’s experiences in Korea. I only have one perspective, my own.
I pondered ma‘s comment mentioning how easy it is to befriend Koreans. This got me wondering as to why people can have such different perspectives the same subject. My perspective on Koreans is a bit different. When I write that I find Koreans to be the most wonderful yet elusive people I’ve ever encountered, I realize that this assessment is only based on what I’ve encountered here since I arrived earlier this year. I talked to my wife tonight, and she says that her perspective is different from mine. She finds Koreans very easy to befriend. She is a Chinese American, so the Asian perspective she shares with Koreans likely helps her better relate to Koreans. On the same token, she has had some difficulty befriending American in the United States (her husband excepted, of course). A friend of ours, who is in her third trimester of pregnancy with a toddler and has had some bad encounters in Seoul, says that she finds Koreans somewhat rude. Another colleague who is single, male, and handsome says he has no trouble befriending Koreans. Americans in trouble in Korea that I have assisted tend to have a negative view of Koreans. However, at the same time I see many Americans interacting with Koreans, and I know that thousands of Americans and Koreans marry each year. I’ve met and read the blogs of foreign English teachers who generally have a wonderful experience with Koreans. It’s an interesting dynamic.
I am a Caucasian, married, professional male. On most days, I wear a business suit. I interact with Koreans primarily at work, both customers and coworkers, and at night I usually return home to spend time with my family. My job gives me a good insight into the Korean psyche. On weekends my time is usually preoccupied with family activities, including getting together with friends. Unfortunately, I have very little time to meet new people, so in a way, my own situation hinders me from meeting and befriending Koreans. I am a very gregarious and open person, and I believe my demeanor does help me get to know Koreans better. I suspect that my lack of time and opportunity, as well as the fact that I am in a job where I often act in an official capacity, hinder my ability to develop strong friendships with Koreans. I wish it weren’t so.