Thursday, August 30, 2007

Response to the Open Letter

Reader Eric N. sent the Korean this nice email. At first the Korean had to think about putting it up, since the readers of this blog are generally not Koreans who live in Korea (or even if they are, they are knowledgeable about this type of things.) But hey, Eric N. put in a lot of work writing this, and it had many good points. So here it is. Italics in parentheses are the Korean's comments.


I enjoyed your latest posting regarding the way non-Asians treat Asian Americans. Your points helped me realize that white people say and a lot of stupid things around Asians. As a caucasian guy who has been living in Korea for over four years, I also have some requests for Korean people. I am sure you have considered some of these points in the past, but I thought you might appreciate them as someone who has lived in both Korea and the U.S.

- When you see a white person on the street, do not yell, "Hello!" or "Where areyou from?" at the top of your lungs. Koreans do not talk to other strangers onthe street, so there is no need to single out the foreigner to practice English with. (The Korean himself is totally guilty on this one, back when he was living in Korea.)

- When foreigners speak Korean, do not say, "Your Korean is so good!" even whenthe phrase being uttered by the person is ridiculously simple. (To be fair, Koreans just don't expect anyone to learn any Korean. And they could be talking about your pronunciation.)

- Do not discuss the purity or superiority of the Korean race. It comes acrossas ignorant, exclusionist, and racist. (No argument here.)

- Talking about foreigners in their presence is extremely rude. It is clear that white people have more body hair, different eye colors, and different bodyshapes from Koreans. It is best to wait until whitey has left before dissecting his appearance. (Shit-talking in the face of someone is so much fun. It's probably the best thing about knowing a relatively obscure language. But yeah, it's pretty damn annoying if you understand the shit-talking. Happened to the Korean many times whenever he traveled to a Spanish-speaking country.)

- Do not tell every foreign guy you see that he is handsome and resembles a movie star. I know we all look alike, but most of us are nowhere near ashandsome as Brad Pitt. (Does this really happen or did you just break your spine trying to pat yourself on the back?)

- Stop fetishizing Ivy League schools and the American upper class. Your children can still be successful if they don't get into Harvard. (Indeed. The Korean is doing just fine after going to a state school.)

- Stop the systematic exclusion of mixed ethnicity Koreans. Koreans only accept them after they are succussful (e.g. Hines Ward and Daniel Henny). Even then, it comes across as if they believe their success comes from the 'Korean blood'. (The Korean will devote a post on this topic later, but yes, it's pretty disgusting.)

- Do not use phrases such as, "Koreans are the in the world." Most of the time, these claims border on laughably ridiculous and can easily be debunked. (The most overused phrase like this is probably "Koreans are the most inventive people in the world", based on hangeul, metal press, etc. The Korean knows, however, that Koreans are the best drinkers in the world. No one can dispute that.)

- Stop ruining Western food under the guise of fusion cuisine. Whipped cream does not belong on baked potatoes and kimchi does not belong in spaghetti. Also, hamburgers are not steak. Furthermore, stop price gouging on so-called luxury drinks such as Starbucks coffee. A cup of coffee should not cost $6. (But how will people know it's from America unless it tastes weird and exorbitantly expensive?)

- Do not hold a spoon like a shovel. This is not preschool. (Frankly, the Korean does not understand this part. Korean people do this?)

- Stop wearing t-shirts with pictures of white kids in big sunglasses. A picture of an emo kid or a Paris Hilton wannabe printed on a cheap t-shirt is not good fashion. (That must be the latest fashion in Seoul. Thank god the Korean is not there, or he might have gouged his own eyes out.)

- On that note, what is the deal with the ridiculous number of Koreans wearing shirts with incoherent English phrases? Most of the time, these are simply annoying. In some cases, they are downright offensive. New rule: You must beable to read the English on a t-shirt before wearing it. With the amount of time and money Koreans spend on English education, this should not be a problem. (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for saying this. Now, if only the Korean can enforce the same rule upon non-Asians and their t-shirts/tattoos...)

- It seems that Koreans like to emulate the worst garbage that comes out of American pop culture. Paris Hilton is not the ideal woman, Nsync and the Backstreet Boys are not where music ends, Levi's are not the best jeans, and 'The Butterfly Effect' and 'Step Up' are not good movies. It is easy to mistakenly assume that Koreans are superficial when their tastes appear to be shallow. (Eh, the Korean will disagree on this one. If Korean people like them, so be it. Spam is considered gross in most parts of America, but people in Hawaii accepted it to be great food and made fantastic dishes out of it. It's all in the eye of the beholder. If a sugarmama who gives out free ass is not the ideal woman, who is?)

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. I love engrish t-shirts. I find them sooo funny... They are all over Brazil too.

  2. (Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for saying this. Now, if only the Korean can enforce the same rule upon non-Asians and their t-shirts/tattoos...)


  3. Yes, we are the best drinkers in the whole world. I don't know of anyone who can drink two liters of Guinness and then manhandle a few more drinks as a standard night out. All while not getting the Asian blush (yeah, I actually seem to get a little paler when I drink - people have noticed that too). And I don't really hang out with many Korean-Americans, ever.

  4. I would have to disagree with you on the statement regarding "Koreans being the best drinkers in the whole world". Let's not completely exclude Russians. Vodka has almost twice the alcohol content of 소주, and being proud of my heritage I can say my alcohol tolerance can rival those of Korean men (coming from personal experience), not even taking into account the fact that I am a female. Unless you want to slightly edit your statement to such as "Koreans being the best Asian drinkers in the world," then I would agree with you there. But yet again, Americans identify Russia mainly with Asian side of the continent, so ...

  5. Being in China and other parts of Asia or non western dominant countries, they do the same thing to foreigners, intrigued..
    Also if you see some of the atrocious trends such as in music, (celebrities with their surgeries) was def. not exactly a Korean cultural golden age. Koreans need to shake off the rest of the imperialist reminants, the mindless nationalism and obesessed about our national identity and capitalism.. but let the westerners set the ideals.

  6. Why do people assume Koreans are EMULATING Americans when they have shitty trends? It's just a nation that's progressing differently in its pop culture. Koreans don't depend on other countries for everything. People act as if Koreans knew nothing at all and had absolutely no culture until they looked to their left and right and saw Japan and China. Wtf


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