Are Koreans bizarre people?
In the 2018 book titled “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers,” cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand tried to show the difference between countries is derived from how tightly or loosely they adhere to social norms.
Under the tight-loose perspective, the author classified China, Korea, Japan, India, and Singapore as tight compared to such loose places as the United States, New Zealand, Brazil, and Spain.
To show how tight the Korean community is, Gelfand came up with a story of a Korean American woman who brought home her Irish American boyfriend.
“Over dinner, her parents would give her boyfriend a single drink to go with his meal and raise their eyebrows if he poured himself a second one,” the book notes.
In my view, nothing is far from the truth than this wrong notion. Even in Korea, it would be regarded as very impolite to urge any visitor to drink just a single drink.
The phrase appears to offend most Koreans, who are proud of the country’s long tradition of treating guests well.
The book also takes issue with Samsung’s onboarding process. Samsung is the country’s largest business conglomerate with such iconic affiliates as Samsung Electronics.
“Over in Korea, Samsung’s onboarding process has been compared to a military boot camp, with sleep-deprived trainees memorizing every detail of the firm’s history and learning to conform to its demanding corporate culture,” it notes.
When contacted, a Samsung official said that such training methods are gone long ago.
“Nowadays, the company puts innovation and imagination first rather than conformity. We are constantly required to come up with think out of the box,” the official said.
“And new recruits should go home on Friday and return to the educational sessions on Monday. Otherwise, the company cannot keep the 52-hour workweek regulation.”
Overall, the bestseller is respectable and, offering many intuitive ideas and intriguing stories.
But odd examples of a specific country may anger its people although such episodes would attract the attention of readers.