Thoughts of the Times; Perspective on Critics of Other Critics of Korea and Koreans

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), August 5, 2000 | Go to article overview

Thoughts of the Times; Perspective on Critics of Other Critics of Korea and Koreans


As we know, there are many Westerners who assert that Korea is a wonderful place with very little to no problems, compared to the rampant racism and marginalization that exists in Western countries. I mean, some Koreans are dumbfounded when a Westerner dares to impugn Korea with racism.

Many of these critics of Western critics of Korean culture and media usually point out that rampant marginalization of Westerners in Korea is a perception, not a reality, and this fiction is created especially through the organs of the media. Some of this criticism is valid, since some expat critics are simply malcontents who are here only for a short ride.

However, much of this Western criticism of the Korean culture is valid, one of them being the rampant prejudice against most foreigners. While Westerners are not exempt from this racism, others, such as 3D workers from different countries, are deemed by some Koreans to be just a little inferior to the Korean race. The lingering reason here is not only racial prejudice, but a socioeconomic prejudice as well. That is, these other foreigners working in 3D work are in toto considered less inferior and sometimes considered unclean simply because of their skin color.

To be sure, critics of expat criticism of Korea use many weak arguments, such as, ``This is not your country so don't criticize it.'' Others say, ``Yea, that may be true, but you need to be patient with the Korean people, as they are not used to foreigners.'' Still others contend that culture is relative and thus Western values are irrelevant in Korea. Others even claim that ``if Westerners don't like Korea, they should take the midnight train home.'' Still others say that many of the Korean prejudices are, in fact, correct, and that the Western world has been duped by the religion of political correctness.

Whatever argument critics of expat criticism of Korea use, the real issues have been evaded and conveniently diverted through personal attacks on valid expat criticism. Even if expat criticism of Korea and Koreans is partly true, that should at least provide an issue to discuss. Evading, overlooking, distorting and justifying the facts of racism through marginalization will not make Korea a better place to live and work, nor will it make Koreans and Westerners better, more sympathetic, partners in the global world.

So, instead of marginalizing valid Western expat criticism of Korea and Koreans, we should deal with the issues one at a time.

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