Usually, we use that acronym — Too Much Information, TMI — to respond when someone is disclosing information about herself or himself that strays beyond the boundaries of what we’re willing to listen to: the quality of recent bowel movements, what it feels like to have a colonoscopy, why vomiting this food is grosser than vomiting that food, weird sexual proclivities, and so on.

However in this case, I’m referring to the kind of information requested by a major Korean company that shall remain nameless and the questions in their application form.

Now, I must repeat, the company must remain nameless, though I can mention a poem I’ve seen around, about the company, by Ann A. Crostic:

Solemn, the wiseness of old and
Ancients has make the very nice ripe fruits.
Men and also maybe women remark on the deliciousness
Scintillating in its sparklingness.
Up, up, up, upup,
Never down. Never look down.
Good company is hard to finding.

Being of sound mind and body, and loathe to give up both, Miss Jiwaku wasn’t eager about the prospect of working for such a corporation, of course: everyone she knows who enters those ranks goes mad soon enough. Not in the Lovecraftian sense, so much as in a Stepfordian kind of way.

In any case, the intermediary company through whom she was corresponding by said anonymous corporation told her that to be considered, she’d have to submit a little more information to be added to the company’s application form.

Yes, application form. I was shocked to see application forms when I arrived in Korea, having believed that once one had computers and inkjet printers, the whole world had moved on to resumes and forgotten all about crappy application forms filled out by handscrawling.

But no, in Korea the application form is alive and well. Perhaps part of the reason is because the kind of information giant, multinational corporations want to know is so frigging batty. No, really. Miss Jiwaku’s writing something up about it, and the gags headings she’s using are things like, “Is It Korean-Grown?”, “Is It Organic?”, “Is It Fair Trade?”, which gives you a sense of the way the questions made her feel. A brief sampling:

  • list your brothers and sisters, and their places of employment
  • how old are your siblings?
  • what is your father’s job?
  • is your mother a housewife?
  • what is your height?
  • what is your weight?
  • what is your religion?
  • are you the descendant of a war veteran?

Personally, I was surprised they didn’t inquire as to bust:waist:hip measurements and blood type, as well as favorite movies and books, but I guess there’s only so many ridiculous questions one can fit onto a single-page application form.

As she notes in her writing on the experience, the practice of asking such questions as part of the hiring process isn’t just discrminatory: it’s flat out unconstitutional, according to  Article 17 of the Korean Constitution — which claims that the privacy of no citizen shall be infringed.

Well, I’m no citizen, but I must admit that for every full-time job I’ve had in Korea, I’ve been asked my religion (it tends to be assumed I will have one, and since I have the paperwork, I simply answer, “Baptized Catholic” as it’s easier than trying to get into a rational discussion about it); for my current job, I was asked about my marital status as well, and it was, rather transparently, a clear attempt to make sure I wouldn’t be hopping into bed with freshmen.

Still, the above seems insanely invasive. I suspect none of those but perhaps the last one would even be legal (let alone actually asked) for most hiring procedures where I come from. And while I’m not where I come from, and shouldn’t expect it to be the same here as there, the fact Miss Jiwaku found it ridiculous is a little evidence that this is, while perhaps common enough here, not something one should just shrug off as “Korean culture.”

2 thoughts on “TMI

  1. Some of that information I find myself wondering why they would even want it . . .

    Is it connected to how the country seems to run on Windoze? *wry*

  2. Ha, not really. Though good theory.

    It’s just… well, aside from the “do you have an ancestor who is a veteran?” which I think is linked to an outdated article in the Constitution, the questions are just basically what people ask when they can get away with it, and so they can narrow the field. There are, they say, a lot of applicants to these top companies.

    Height, weight, religion — good old-fashioned bigotry. They’re selecting for good-looking people, or so many believe. I have lots of students who’re convinced they need plastic surgery to compete on the job market. Which tells you something about the morons running (in the middle-management sense, and top management too) companies around here.

    As for the family stuff — Miss Jiwaku claims it’s about cultivating connections. Having a sibling one gets on with in a company might provide an “in,” she says. I imagine they’d also be considering it for preventing corporate espionage.

    Mom housewife, I have no idea. Maybe a conservativism test? *Shrug* There were weirder questions, too… even stuff about vision stats — like, asking for numbers and stuff.

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