By David Thiessen
Contributing WriterI have been involved with Korea and Koreans for a very long time. And over the years I have noticed that many people make criticizing Korea a national sport with the majority of the comments unfair, unjust and untrue.
It seems that when foreigners enter these shores all the lessons of their youth seem to take flight and they return to their unschooled attitudes and opinions, lambaste everything there is about Korea, though much of what they criticize takes place in the Western world as well.
Also, I find that foreigners seem to think that they are perfect or superior to the East which, to them, gives them the right to treat Koreans in an insulting manner while expecting to be treated like kings and queens in return.
It is not difficult to find examples of this, as one only needs to frequent the numerous Western bars and other hangouts or peruse the many foreigner Web sites that exist to provide the Westerner a place to go and meet others.
It seems that anonymity breeds false bravado as I have read and challenged many such negative comments from those posters who would not say such things if their identities were known.
No country is perfect, no one is perfect and though there is room for constructive criticism, humiliating Koreans in public is not one aspect of that part of life.
I find that the Westerner feels that the West is the best despite its own corruption, its own racism and its own slanting of policy to gain benefits for its corporations.
The last people to speak about how bad the Koreans are, are those from Western countries as their track record is as bad, if not worse, than those who were born and reside in the East. This does not mean we can only sit there and kiss butt ― no, for that is as wrong as unjustified and unwarranted criticism.
Foreigners seem to forget that bad treatment garners bad treatment thus much of the negative response they get from Koreans is a result of previous foreigners who have come before and have taken advantage of what generosity they were granted during their tenure here and from the direct actions from each foreigner, who is here now, toward their Korean employers, co-workers and Korea itself.
Foreigners only have themselves to blame for much of what transpires during their sojourn in this country, we are not blameless and the fault does not lie with the Korean nation only.
Take a hard look at your own actions, look at your attitude and behavior through an outsider’s eye and see if you are happy with what you see.
I know I am not perfect here and make my share of mistakes and I say this out of experience, as I have had to adjust as well.
It helps to remember some scripture when faced with the easy task of criticizing others: “ye who are without sin, cast the first stone” and “remove the beam from your own eye first so you can see clearly to remove the toothpick from your neighbor’s eye” (slight paraphrase)
It is not right to publicly embarrass or humiliate a nation through forums that are accessed by the population, many of whom are innocent of the charges laid. Such actions only make life more difficult for foreigners and not easier.
Koreans have the right to determine the rules for their own country and foreigners need to learn to deal with problems the right way and draw the officials attention to difficulties through the proper methods and a public forum is not such an avenue.
The writer an English teacher in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.