Friday, 30 October 2009

Murphy's Day

Murphy's Law applies to human species definately more than needed.
Yesterday it was my day to experience Murphy's Law in practise, especially that part which says that unluckiness go in triples around.

I went to the Immigration Office at Omogkyo to try to fix my legal affairs in Korea.
I had to apply for re-entry permit and change of status - Visa extension.

I was waiting in the line for more than 3 hrs watching very remarkable actions of public service officers. Not that I did not know how it was going to be due to my diplomatic education, but I had made an appointment and being really in rush grew impatient.

Hours have passed, ladies were going for lunch one after another, then brushing their teeth, then chit chatting on the phone or one to another totally ignoring people in the line.

My number was 411. At 1 p.m. I saw a free officer playing only with his computer, watching me. In western world any sign of my growing impatience would be noticed and taken into account and here... no comments.

Finally at 1:30 p.m. Ajoshi pressed the button and I could approach. However I did not manage to get what I wanted simply because I wasn't understood. In the city of 20 million people there are no english fluent specialists to serve me!

Maybe if I acted along the rules of confuciasism and asked how his wife was doing, later how her parents are doing, and if he is doing or not doing at all, I might have gained more friendly reception smile. But this time I wasn't in the mood for that. In polish there is a saying: talked a cow to the picture, really resembles this experience.

At 2:20 I got in the cab in rush to try to catch Irina who I had promised to meet with and practice our korean homework. Me being totally reliable, never 5 minutes late with nothing, this time failed. And the driver tried to pretend he doesn't understand what "Soul de hakkyo" means. Normally quiet I raised my voice that time and almost yealed on my driver speaking the name again.

At 3:00 I dropped in the lab like a tornado and logged into my FB account to try to find anyone who would know Irina's phone number. I called my friend and apologised. Luckily these were not any important negotiations in business, in such case I would be in trouble.

In the afternoon I wanted to eat noodles, but noodles went off everywhere. Some merciful and friendly person adviced me to get downstairs at the Student Center, there would be noodles!

So I went there and got noodles, but totally different from those I ordered and spicy like hell.

That's not all. I scored 10/15 in the test which was my poorest performance since I started the course.

Today luckily dude Murphy left me alone.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Confucianism in practice

Harry Triandis have once said that one of the borders between cultures may be established by measuring Individualistic versus Collectivist approach.

Asian societies are collectivist by their inner essence. They will stand up for the common goal of the groups they belong to and as well they would never like to be a burden to the group.

This leads to situations when they are left alone with their problems putting smile on their faces. Does it mean they won't speak out? They will. My friends do trust me.
But whether they shall acquire any support from other members of the group, that is different issue...

Recently I have experienced that. One of my friends wanted to leave the job and go away only not to become a subject of the other's pity. It took a while to convince this person not to do so.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Travels with Herodotus

It happened at last. I am grounded. Stuck in my comfortable bed until the end of the week.
It wasn't very wise for me to remain so active. Luckily it is not a swine flue, or I hope it is not.

I was wondering just now what takes a good reporter. Is there a possibility for me to do something unique which goes beyond the contemporary momentus of the weekly or daily issue? What is the truth in journalism, and how do I judge if it is one?
Is my point of view fair and just? To what extent am I influenced by my own cultural background? Do I have sufficient ability to listen? Are my skills ok? And so on...
Are there any objective terms of measure which I can apply to compare, research and describe what I see?

I don't know. But I started reading... My best friends for the following days are: "Applied cross-cultural psychology" by Brislin and "The geography of thought" by Nisbett. I hope to improve my understanding of the world...if I have any so far. Too much of I in this all.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Seoul Dream of Samarkanda

Last Saturday I went with my russian friends to Dogdaemun District in aim to watch the game between Russia and Germany.

The owner of the Uzbek restaurant was supposed to be waiting for us at the subway exit, but did not appear. We found the place on our own after 1h and something of hopeless walking.

After we arrived there the owner said that there was never any ORT channel in the neighbourhood. "But we phoned you and you said that we can watch the game here" Nikolai said to the owner. The latter repplied: "No way. Noone called here. definately not you."

Then Nikolai calles the number he previously dialled and the cell started to ring in the mans pants.

Suddenly another Uzbek aproached and spared his collegue saying: "But I know where you can watch the game". I replied: "You will be a gentleman and lead us there" in russian. I am not really sure if I had spoken properly as he asked: "Ana, kto eto? Who is she?" Nikolai replied: "Ana Paliaczka. She is Polish". The Uzbek said to me: " Paliaczka, Ty oczien krasiwaja, kak Tiebia zawut? Polish Lady, you are very beautiful, what's your name?" I replied to him that I would tell him my name only after he drags us to the place. On every corner he kept saying "Eto usze za iglom, U Tiebia jest numier tieliefona? That's just around the corner, do you have a phone number?" Nikolai kept repeating him to lead us.

Eventually we hit the main street near Dongdaemun Stadium Station and he said watching the pavement: "I don't really know where is the place" and to me: "Krasavica! Beauty!" ....and escaped!

The game would probably be less exciting without that adventure putting that we lost. Oh...we lost, means this time Slavic team lost the game. We shared common Slavic sorrow after. But Ukraine won with England, hurray!

The Central Asian Community in Seoul is quite huge and has its own district called Dongdaemun exactly. Near the exit number 5 from Dongdaemun Stadium Station a tourist approaches totally different world. Especially for a person from Poland the cyrylic alphabet around is very familliar. There are plenty of restaurants with variety of East Eauropean- Central Asian Food. Mongolian, Kazakh or Uzbek cuisine. Russian desserts and dumplings, milk tea and variety of traditional hats and dresses next to the modern city noise.

Some of the restaurants are run by Korean Kazakh or Korean Uzbek. How is this possible?
During the 30's batiuszka narodaw Josif Vasillionowicz Stalin had his own policy to the whole world, not just Poland. Some of it's policy contained dragging native Soviet Koreans into Central Asia steps. According to the 1989 population registry there were still at least over 100 000 of them both in Uzbekhistan and Kazakhstan. Now they go slowly back to Seoul upgrading its multinational character... dream of Samarkanda in the middle of civilisation. Never to be forgotten!

Next post is coming soon.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

International Food Festival @ SNU

SNU organizes a lot of activities for students. This time it is International Food Festival held here on 7th and 8th of October.

I joined my French friends and we are doing french pancakes both sweet and salty. Very good!
Yesterday we even gained money to my surprise:)

Today awkward situation occured as we were given some korean help, but the guy doesn't even speak proper english, not even to mention that he is actually sick and coughing all the time.

Luckily I succeeded to get rid of this "help".

That is all for now, next post is coming soon.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Work efficiency and Confucianism

Today I had a very interesting discussion with my Korean Friend, Youn A.

We talked about the work efficiency or on the contrary lack of it in most of Korean companies. I wondered how is that people are paid for sitting hours here and not for the project efficiency as it is in the West.

I was informed that it is not that much important and that harmony is more important, cause the company is like one big organism and has to work as such. "So" she said " I am the hardworking one and I will easily get kicked off any company as not fitting to the others". How extraordinary statement to hear for a Westerner like me.

I am totally independent person and as such am not good example of Western management methods application as corporate environment is as far good for me as it comes to the media industry and not any other type of that. And I work freelance which fits my personality the best.
But still time management and work efficiency are important issues to me. As a boss I would prefer to employ 3 hardworking people good in time management skills and responsible for meeting deadlines instead of 10 lazy ones.

I wonder what is the management system in those Korean companies, like Posco, Samsung, Hyundai, which made a global success? Is it like that there as well?
Yet to discover...

Next post is coming soon