Speechmakers of Korea, beware!

Immediately on arriving in Korea, I noticed how

(a) so many people seem to think that speechmaking is absolutely necessary for any function, gathering, or context, and

(b) so many people seem to be bad public speakers, not making any attempt to deliver speeches that interest, involve, or relate to the audience except as something to be endured.

Foreigners routinely comment on how rock bands will stop in the middle of a show and start talking… and talking… and talking… They’ll report on whole rooms of Koreans sitting in dazed, half-attentive states while some guy in a suit prattles on and on at them. I’ve seen local government officials give long speeches to rooms mostly full of yawning, bored children. I’ve seen yawning bored adults ignoring government dudes blathering on and on.

So anyway, this news piece I’m about to discuss didn’t much surprise me, but it was amusing, and a powerful example of the kind of silent resistance I am seeing all around me now in Korea, when I look for it. Lime told me about how a group of 400 people organized a soccer tournament, basically just for people to get together and play games and have fun. Picnic, soccer, fun. Sounds good, right?

Someone in the government heard about it — hey, 400-people in this tournament? Cool, that’s active, let’s sponsor it! They sent food and so on, which was cool, right?

Well, there’s always a price. On the day of the tournament, a bunch of government dudes in suits showed up and started giving speeches. You know, long, onerous, boring-as-hell speeches.

Everyone in attendance finally left, put off by the sheer boredrom and stupidity of it. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. That, my friends, is beautiful. If only there were more socially-acceptable ways for those people to tell the government dorks to shut their pie-holes, maybe they’d get the message.

I’m sure there are a few inaccuracies in my rendering, since I’m just going on what I remember from Lime’s explanation. Those of you who can read Korean can check out the original, here.

2 thoughts on “Speechmakers of Korea, beware!

  1. While I agree with you about speeches in general, judging by the article it wasn’t necessarily the speeches that pissed everyone off, it was the fact that an army of (40 or so) officials showed up and turned what was supposed to be fun into a political event. This passage is key: “With as many as forty something guests, including Assemblyman Kim, the introductions dragged on so long that the representatives of the Football Association could not be introduced, and at that the association members, who had sat through the greetings beneath the blazing sun, finally blew up, and all of the teams participating in the tournament left.” This would lead me to believe that it had less to do with the fact that the speeches dragged on than it did with the fact that the wrong people were making the speeches.

    If it had been me, though, I would have just started playing. Kind of sucks to have the whole day ruined like that, but I guess they did make their point.

  2. Charles,

    Thanks for the clarification. you might be right about it being just the wrong people speaking. I’ve sat through rock concerts that were more than half talk talk talk.

    I was wondering why they didn’t just play, too. But I think leaving is a more impactful way of telling the government guys to go eff themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *