All posts filed under: People Talk

August 23rd, Saturday

“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) Advertisements

June 23rd, Wednesday

A large middle-eastern man gets on to the elevator on the 13th floor at Seoul National University Hospital. 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

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 a translator. It didn’t even cross my mind I needed to state it (which was unprofessional of me, I realize now. Won’t make this mistake again). When I finished the job, I sent him my bank info, with my usual quota listing. He was startled, and said “Oh, I didn’t know this was a paid job. I’m really broke these days and in debt. I’ll pay you next time”. I texted back “Oh okay, I’m …

My Swedish friends discuss the English word “bitch”

  “hen”: Swedish gender-neutral third person pronoun My friends Mow, Gee, Lanka, Eva and Bohr and I were having a little party at my house. The Swedes would call it a förfest (pre-party). Now, Gee is a Turkish graduate student from Lund, in Korea for one term to study the Saemaeul movement, as well as make some money working for Samsung (duh!). As we were in the company of Swedes, he teased them about the sing-along drinking games the merry tall folk play. Then it began. Swedish social drinkers Mow, Eva, and Bohr suggested we play this game, in which we would call the “it” person “bitch”. The trio began to hesitate in Swedish. The talk was hushed, but intense, and serious. Lanka, Gee, and I asked. What’s going on? Is the game too complicated to explain? No. It was that we had to call the person “bitch”. What did they mean? The word “bitch” apparently has a more gender-neutral equivalent in Swedish, while keeping the sassy tone. “What about man-bitch then?” “No, because that puts the …