Welcome to Linguistics and Korea

Ever wondered why Koreans speak "bad English"?
Why it's so hard to learn Korean?
Why it's so hard to have "normal" conversations with Koreans?
Why it's so hard to fit in with Korean culture and society?
We don't claim to have the perfect answer to these questions, just a few hints that we hope will clarify the situation.
If you have questions, comments or suggestions, we'd be happy to hear from you. Email us at raphael.hadid [at] gmail [dot] com

Networking in Korea

Since talking to someone in Korea requires that the person be introduced by a third party, Koreans view networking as crucial to meeting people of higher rank, getting a job or even dating.

Meeting people of higher rank in Korea can be helpful for Koreans who own businessmen, work as businessmen or any profession that requires having a large network of acquaintances. In order to meet potential clients or associates, Koreans attend a high number of social gatherings, dinners, and will occasionally spend significant amounts of money to eat in restaurants or join clubs where they have no guarantee of meeting important people, but may still have a small chance of doing so.

Some Koreans will even start attending churches which important people are rumored to attend. Though such Koreans have no religious convictions whatsoever, they "act" religious in order to meet important people. Others will join social clubs which require prohibitively expensive membership fees just to meet such important people. Office workers also join such organizations with the hopes of meeting a businessman looking for an associate, as it is their only way to escape from jobs where they have to fight for promotions and social recognition.

Social gatherings, dinners and conferences are another way to establish connections. Students and young professionals often join such meetings, sometimes volunteer to work in such meetings so that they can meet potential future employers without having to take competitive company entrance examinations. Students often have business cards they give to professors or company executives and try to make the best possible impression. Students will do anything to get that connection with important people, including engage in an extra-marital affair with such executives to enlarge their social network, or accept jobs consisting in working long hours for little or no pay with professors or company executives with hopes of being introduced to important people.

Finally, some people will pay fortunes to go to golf clubs or expensive restaurants where they hope they can meet the owner of such clubs. If they happen to meet the owner, they will cease all activity to engage in conversations with the owner. People going to such places often take foreigners with them: foreigners will often attract the curiosity of the owner hopeful of expanding his clientele to foreigners, while the Korean who brought him there will have the opportunity to establish a connection with the owner.

Some Koreans attend as many social gatherings as they can and may aggressively ask their friends to take them to social gatherings where their friends are invited. Also note that while claiming heritage or connections with very powerful people (the president, ministers or CEOs) was very common in the 1960s and 70s, some people still claim such "fictional" heritage.