10 Comments

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  1. Kevin Kim
    Kevin Kim April 5, 2010 at 11:02 am . Reply

    Is this a common social fallacy? At every school I’ve ever worked at, it often felt more as if the foreigners had no interest in socializing outside of work: everyone was already involved in his or her own thing. Or maybe that’s just my perception as a natural loner.

  2. Chris in South Korea
    Chris in South Korea April 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm . Reply

    I’ve seen this happen in a variety of places – bars and churches are the most common. Both are places that seem to get better the more often you go, and both offer a sense of community to those who go on a regular basis. There’s also the assumption that ‘if I like it, you’ll like it’ too, which isn’t always the case.

    Regarding teachers at work – I don’t typically socialize with other teachers because I prefer to leave work at work. I’d also rather not hear about what happened at the party from someone I want to see me as a serious worker.

  3. Sean
    Sean April 6, 2010 at 10:11 pm . Reply

    I’ve never really gone for the “we’re all not Korean, so we should get along and be friends” thing, but I do think that expats in Korea should look out for each other in a broader looser sense.

    i.e. if someone gets in a real rough spot. Then it’s good to help. I mean truly tough spots ala The woman whose son died in the sauna, the guy who had the serious infection/surgery thing.

    In another sense these get togethers for foreigners – either organized by other foreigners or Koreans – are IMO better suited for newbies or people who are generally outgoing and like to have a bazillion friends/aquaintances.

    Personally I like to keep a pretty small circle of friends and its’ been that way my whole life. I’m much more outgoing on the Internet than I am in real person…

  4. Mike
    Mike April 7, 2010 at 12:50 am . Reply

    Gord,

    This is interesting to me, and hopefully I can provide an alternative view.

    You are absolutely right. We are not one big happy family. This is a bit of a straw man fallacy, though, if you are hoping it proves we aren’t a community.

    Of course, it depends on the definition of community, but I would argue that expats in Korea are a community. You say that “just being from the same country, or just being mutually not-from-around-here, does not mean we all have something in common.” I disagree. Those are, in fact, two things in common. It may not be enough for you to feel connected to that person, true enough. However, most people, especially people new to Korea, are actively looking to expand their social circles, and those two meager things are enough to start looking for other things in common, even with optimism.

    Similarly, while you add the requirement that these relationships must be lasting, many people (and I would argue this includes you as well) do find their relationships last a year, two years, maybe some relationships last decades or for life.

    The definition I looked at before responding required two things about community: 1) same geography and 2) interaction. I think that living as an expat in Korea meets these two criteria.

    Really, though I think you are dissatisfied with these people who are trying to be social connectors. They do use guilt to manipulate you. That sucks. Also, many of the people aren’t your cup of tea. That’s fine, too. You have plenty of social connections; you can be more selective. You know your purpose and don’t need distractions. Don’t hate them for trying though. Take it as a compliment that they want your participation. I would even argue it is good to give in sometimes. I went to Dabang concerts even though they sucked (haha).

    It is also worth criticizing that many of the events do seem to be about drinking. It seems true that the ones that don’t seem to revolve around church. Other things, like the expat art exhibits, often do need people to support them, and that is when these social connectors are useful. By useful, I mean useful to me.

    While we may not be one big happy family, we are a community. While some of the things the social connectors do annoy us, they may be useful to other people. Even so, there are plenty of things to criticize about this community we do have.

  5. Mike
    Mike April 8, 2010 at 8:26 am . Reply

    Gord,

    I guess what a sociologist would call a community and that sense a group of SF enthusiasts feels, that feeling of communinty, are different things. I argue that a sociologist would call the expats living in Korea a community.

    Regardless of that, people who pressure you to do things you don’t want to do… well, they suck.

    Furthermore, I have to say that feeling of a postive, supportive community of people who shared my interets was lacking, if not completely, enough that I left.

    In short, I am just being jerky and picking nits.

  6. Turner
    Turner June 23, 2011 at 11:37 am . Reply

    I think I like Roboseyo’s argument about the expat “community” (or lack thereof): there’s a pretty thick line between newbies and expats who have remained 2+ years.

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