All posts filed under: You Talk (About Korea)

A Samsung repairman and a Professor of Economics. On labour.

“There is no service in Europe or Canada. Every time I get customers who’ve lived abroad they are amazed that people will come to their house to fix the hardware, re-install their OS, even help the elderly retrieve their e-mail passcodes. Who does that? We do, because if we didn’t help the old man retrieve his passcodes he has the option to poorly grade my service on the survey that is automatically sent to him after I complete my visit” (A Samsung serviceman on his visit to clean my laptop’s internal fan, August 21st, 2014) “Korea cannot deal with all those labour unions screaming for higher minimum wages. We cannot compete with other Asian producers with higher wages. We would lose to China, Vietnam, Indonesia” (Professor of Economics at Korea University, sometime in Fall 2013)

Seoul University Hospital. People are nosy.

A large Middle-Eastern man gets on to the elevator on the 13th floor at Seoul National University Hospital (medical tourism has been ever growing). As soon as he gets off, an old man says to his friend: “Fat arses like that should freaking take the stairs”. On the 11th floor, a woman and her friend get off, and say in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear: “The stairs at hospitals are off-limits”. The old man gets off on the 9th floor, and again, as loudly as before, says to his friend: “Whatever. I’m sure there are some freaking stairs he can use. Lazy arse…” Korean people are very interested in other people’s businesses.

How Koreans Who Are Merely Acquaintaces Quarrel

[Image description: A square is split into two parts, a blue part and a red part. Both have a black circle at the centre. In the blue square, a line of white footsteps walks right through the centre of the black circle, on to the other side of the square. In the red square, a line of white footsteps is seen carefully treading around the circle while making its way to the other side.  Image source: Laurent Haug] In a nutshell: by text-message, in politely arranged words, and over weeks, without every calling each other rude names and making sure they do not offend the other person. I recently had a ‘quarrel’ with a Korean acquaintance whom I worked with two years ago. We keep in touch a couple of times a year by text, but have never met since. Let’s call this friend A. A asked me to translate a couple of documents for him. I said yes, and obviously I thought I was going to be paid, since he knows I work as …