So this article down at the Washington Post caught my eye called "Slippers at work? Nonstop alcohol? Tales of an American executive in Korea" and I don't exactly know why I wanted to read it, but I felt like I should, and apparently the article is an excerpt from "Seoul Man: A Memoir of Cars, Culture, Crisis, and Unexpected Hilarity Inside a Korean Corporate Titan".
I'm not saying the author is some rude brash and racist American - he seems like a pretty normal guy - out of his element of course, and it's not like I'm sure he doesn't have a fondness for his time there...I guess it just seems White.
You can hang out with Koreans here in the U.S. and get your soju and mic on --- and replace Korean with a decent amount of Asian ethnicities and the same thing goes (and yes, we are not one monolithic singleton, blah blah blah blah blah, but c'mon - ...you were never singing too loud with someone after a shot?).
He seemed so surprised by everything, and it's just so White to be so surprised by some of those things - if not maybe all of them.
What did we know about South Korea coming in? Little more than most Americans do: It’s the most wired nation on earth, the kids are ultra-high-achievers in academics, and they eat kimchi. Surrounded by our LG flat-screen TVs, Samsung smartphones, and Hyundai and Kia cars, most Americans know Korea for its powerhouse consumer brands — and perhaps for the murderous Kim dynasty in the North, whose periodic outbursts alternate between lethal threats and farce.
I get it.
We play percentages and numbers. But when those numbers and percentages are millions of people, it makes you wonder a little bit about someone's depth of field and what's in focus and what's not. I know it's not quite my right to feel slighted - but I do.
Just a little.
It's kinda like - dude. This is all you knew about SK coming into it?
Did you not have any Asian American friends?
A subscription to DramaFever maybe?
I feel like you deserve what you get in that scenario - and it's this painted picture of this "unseen" "mysterious" culture that kind of gets to me - perpetuating the myth of the Ancient Chinese Secret which I can use to describe this, because it's the same piece of paper written by the same thought - and in all reality - some of this, is just asking some people over some bubble tea you know?
It's not that ancient and it's not that secret.
I'm not saying I know what it's like to work in his position at Hyundai and that there's not something of educational value there from his POV. But it's a White POV which also doesn't seem to have a lot Asian American or Asian influence - and don't you hate those people sometimes who know the foreign exchange student, or someone's brother's wife is from some country in the Motherlands but other than that they don't actually have any Asian American sphere's of influence in their life?
It's almost as if it's dismissive by omission.
And by omission we don't exist and don't enter the narrative for so many people.
It's like we're forgotten.
I think that's what gets me the most.