The difference?

Here’s a vlog post by the popular Canadian teacher couple who blogged about their experience teaching English in Korea at a website called, Eat your kimchi.

I may be the only foreigner in Korea that doesn’t gush about them – they’ve always rubbed me the wrong way and I’ve yet to figure out why.  Is it because they’re so “on” all the time?  Is it because I find it ridiculous to see a grown woman screaming with her students about teenie bopper K-pop idols?  Is it because their dorky hip persona no longer works at their age?  Is it because they’re so narcissistic they have to video themselves all the time?  Is it because they sound like self-appointed experts on Korea?

Yes, but it’s more than that.  It’s their whole attitude about Koreans that gets to me.  Like in the video above, that students put their nose to the grindstone only to be thought of as better worker drones.  I mean, that just smacks of condescension to me.  And it’s not the only instance of this.  Too often their portrayal sounds like, “oh look at the cute little Koreans!  Aren’t they adorable!”  which gives me PTSD flashbacks to being objectified as the little adopted Asian doll growing up.

Korean students are not better behaved, (the woman above taught at an all-girl’s private school) and the students I know in America aren’t violent because they have too much free-time, but for a whole host of socio-economic, dysfunctional family, racist and political reasons, and damn if I’m going to put my finger on ONE thing that makes a very few that way.  And the students I know in Korea may not have a chance to be randomly violent, but you can bet they have violent thoughts – and they tend to take that violence out on themselves.  And the Korean students I know DO have dreams, just not a lot of hope to attain them.  And school for these kids is ALL about being social.  They spend all their time in school trying to subvert the system and capitalize on socializing, and when they’re out of school they’re trying to subvert the system to see their friends and socialize.  I could go on point by point, but that would mean having to watch their video again.   Anyway, maybe I’m just biased.  Watch and you decide.  They seem to identify many of the same dilemmas as I do, as most foreigners do, but their analysis of the root causes just seems simple and colonial to me…

5 thoughts on “The difference?

  1. you’re not the only one. once in a while they are funny, but most of the time, they are just annoying. their “personas” are annoying, yes, but that’s really only the beginning. glad we’re on the same page. ha!

  2. i watched the first 57 seconds and already have a list of 5 points they brought up that are problematic for me.

  3. hey gf, I knew you’d be on the same page!

    omg. I just watched it again, and it just sticks in my craw…

    and their music choice makes me feel violent…is that the Korean in me or the American in me?

    Trenka loved these people. Maybe that was when I realized we had irreconcilable differences…

  4. Hi, I’m a Westerner from the States. I like this couple alot and find them funny. What I want to say is this. This is a cultural difference. These people are young and thus they still llike to “play”. I think most of what they are saying is just surface level awareness of what they observe in their lives in Korea. I think if Koreans are upset by what they are saying, then it would be best to tell them so and why very specifically. Because to the Western mind, they are just perky , funny and informative. I certainly would feel bad, if I made these kinds of videos only to discover that Koreans are offended by them!!! I love Korea and would not want that kind of thing to occur, so by all means, let them know! I don’t think they are being narcissistic as most videos are made this way? I read why you think it’s offensive, but I don’t understand. I guess when a person starts to compare, it can come across snobby or negatively sometimes. They are only relating their own experience, it wouldn’t necessarily be the same experience you have. Anyway, I don’t think they were being condescending? I don’t know. Really curious. There ARE focus differences between Koreans and North American Canadians and U.S. citizens. It’s a difference in mindset and thus culture. There is no judgement about that (or there shouldn’t be), it’s the spice of life!

  5. Jkim and I ARE Westerners and we ARE Korean. These not-so-young people go beyond relaying their own experience and make assinine assumption after assinine assumption that are not merely based on cultural differences but which portray Koreans in a very simplistic manner – as if Koreans resemble their own simple reductions. They are informing the public mischaracterizations as broad generalizations without any disclaimers or inquiry and only presenting their views as the way things are, as if they are experts, which is really irresponsible.

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