Try looking at the world through a pair of Korean glasses: Part 2
In my previous blog I wrote that, as guests to South Korea, us Westerners need to reconfigure our settings, meaning the way we have been conditioned in our home-country’s environment – because we see the world differently to Koreans – otherwise this may cause us problems. I mentioned that one area where we see the world differently is in our “work-ethic.” For Asians, often their work-ethic is driven by their deep-seated notion of “hard-work.” But for us Westerners, our work-ethic is not merely “work-hard.”
INDIVIDUALISM V COLLECTIVISM
Also, Western and Easterners see the world through different coloured glasses in other ways, too. For people who grew up in Asia, the concept of “collectivism” is valued above “individualism.” Of course, having lived the first 30 years of my life in England, I was conditioned to thinking “individually;” and it has taken me at least 15 years of living in Korea to learn that I am not just an individual but I interact within a collective of people, and that I must put the big picture before my eyes. This is not something which comes easily and certainly not naturally to Westerners. Of course, if you grew up in Korea, you would be conditioned towards placing more importance on the Asian concept of “team-effort” which can also have negative as well as positive effects – for example, it can stifle self-expression.
Such a way of thinking means, when you join a company, you don’t just “join a company” but you actually join “a family” and your new boss isn’t just “your Boss” but he regards you as his or her emotional “son” or “daughter,” and he or she wants you to think of them as your emotional parents; such a concept of a family-team and collectivism is so indelibly marked inside them that they naturally think that all humans who walk this earth have it inside them, too. Therefore, this can cause conflict for you who have just arrived in Korea with our “Western-glasses”.
Therefore, as guests here in this country, we have to be sensitive to these cultural differences and nuances and not just steam ahead with our Western glasses, “like a bull in a China shop!” We need to take off our glasses and put on Korean glasses so that we can see their world much better!We need to take off our glasses and put on Korean glasses so that we can see their world much better!