Koreans are Not Polite?

Recently, I visited a repair shop to receive service on certain item. I knew the owner well and the product was serviced not too long ago, so I knew that it was a simple procedure. When the job was done, the owner said, “I spent lots of time and energy to work on yours especially because you are a pastor.” On his exaggeration, I replied that he became quite voluble since he had become a business owner. He answered, “This is unavoidable in dealing with Koreans.” Then, he told me the followings with all seriousness.

According to him, it is more difficult to deal with one Korean than dealing with 10 Americans. Koreans tend to argue about petty things and are afraid of suffering a loss. They also often get upset and yell after a minor infraction. I asked whether SBC members are somewhat different. His answer, “Oh, no, you do not know. They are so different from in and out of church. Quite two faces!” Of course, it could be some isolated incidents with couple of people. Maybe because I had a higher expectation, I felt a bitter taste in my mouth…

After that experience, I asked several people who work in service businesses such as consulate office, doctor’s office, chiropractor’s office, etc. The answers were about the same. Their favorite clients are Japanese and Koreans are the least desired ones. They also added that Koreans are so rude. We all know that Christians are to be kind, then why is this the way? I wondered. I found several reasons in our thinking pattern.

First, we have this notion that unless we can overcome others in our verbal match by yelling, we may suffer a loss. Therefore, when it is not clear who is in error, we tend to show a temper and yell. Once, one church member told me a story that she experienced. She rode her bike near Han river in Korea, and collided with a car. She fell, her arm was injured and bleeding. The driver came out yelling that it was her fault and cursed her.

Second, we think that our demand is received only if we yell. Of course, Korea has a distorted view of consumer’s rights, and it is true that sometimes a yelling consumer tends to get what he wants. However, America is a society of rules and logic. Therefore, if my logic and its support is sufficient, I can have my way. If not, yelling and throwing a tantrum will not do any good. In the early age of my American life, I visited a client and witnessed that he was clearing up some mistake about a concert ticket he purchased. He did not yell. He did not scream. Calmly he explained the situation and got the job done. I was very impressed by it and ashamed of the way we do business.

The third is due to Korean’s twisted notion about the relationship between the privileged and the underprivileged. We tend to think that it is all right to yell and bully the weaker party. That is not right. Bullying and yelling harms our character regardless of a service claim.

More than anything, if we decided to give up little and were willing to suffer some losses, it could have been all right. Instead, we argue, yell and bully. We need to remember that we can lose the rare chance to give glory to God because we cling to a meager gain.

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