Now You Tell Me!

Korea Beat has translated an article that makes the claim that 49.9 percent of office workers in Korea ‘feel lifeless and depressed just by going to their workplaces.’  Get ready for that figure to rise, because tomorrow I start my new office job at Unnamed Company, a large multinational corporation with a branch in Gangnam.

This means a lot of change: I’ll be wearing a suit every day (expect this to become a theme), I no longer expect to make the Dean’s list at Yonsei, I will be delving a lot deeper into the amorality of Korean society, I will have to learn a whole new array of bus routes, I’ll have to go to Gangnam (ugh), and of course, I will have lots more grist for the bloggy mill.  Will I have any time to write up said grist?  Only time will tell.

The first comment to the Korea Beat article I referenced above reads

I would never accept an office position in Korea.

I have heard too many stories of “I work nine to ten hours a day (including Saturdays), and I only make W1.5 million per month!”

Vacation time here is also ridiculous! My girlfriend works as a translator for a textile company, and she only gets 2 paid vacation days. The company also gives her most national holidays, but she has been called in to work on more than one of those days.

This list goes on and on…

I can see how all of this would be a serious problem if it were your only option for life, but I have the luxury of framing my every move as some sort of super-meta experiment, as if my whole life were research for a piece I’m writing.  Lame, I know, but it does make the salary (way less than I would be making teaching English) and the fact that I will most definitely be getting called into work for unpaid overtime on my days off seem like less of a big deal.  After all, who needs money when you can step into another country’s culture and try it on for size?  Isn’t it positively anthropological?

We’ll see how long I can keep singing that tune, but for the time being I’ll just be taking it one day at a time.

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~ by Joe on April 28, 2008.

3 Responses to “Now You Tell Me!”

  1. So far our relationship is very one way. You pour out your thoughts, and I scoop them up. Sometimes I comment to let you know I’m alive. But really I’m taking what you’re giving.

    Nevertheless, I’m hoping and wishing as best I can that things work out, whatever that means.

  2. Don’t get your hopes up. I seem to remember thinking the same things you wrote above. Certainly didn’t turn out that way. Sorry to be negative, but the culture you’ll be trying on for size…won’t be the same culture your korean coworkers are in.

  3. Hey Chiamatt,

    Would it blow your mind if I were to tell you that, after only two days on the job, I am totally in the same culture as my coworkers, and that I’ve got the instant-coffee-stained tie to prove it?

    Of course you’re totally right, but it’s sort of an inevitable fact that, as a non-Korean, I will be subject to vastly different rules and expectations from my coworkers, but the point is I’ll be there to witness it first-hand. Perhaps I should have said more accurately ‘After all, who needs money when you can dip a a toe gingerly into another country’s culture and test the waters?’

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