Drunk and Stupid: How Debauched Foreigners Feed Koreans’ Prejudices

EXPAT LIFE, Korean Life Add comments

Editor’s note: The author of this letter submitted it with the title “A Korean Conservative’s Perspective on MBC’s Infamous Report.” 3WM changed the head.

By Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith and his wife in Paris.

Like many of the foreign community living in Korea I was appalled to watch MBC’s pathetic excuse for journalism that spread like wildfire through social networking sites in late May. I myself am an Englishman happily married for two years to a Korean woman. The news episode certainly did not represent me and many of my friends living in Korea past and present.

It is all too easy to see where the paranoia comes from about Western men with Korean women, especially in conservative Korean men. Their insecurities are heavily based in history and culture and also stem from the fact that traditional values in Korean culture favor the men; it is they who are in the more comfortable ground in a relationship, while women take on the roles of submissive and old-culture duties of cooking, cleaning, and generally taking care of the family. Men don’t want this to change and women do want this to change, so immediately the attraction of Western men for Korean women becomes apparent.

It is possible that Western women may be a little intimidating for Korean men as well; they do not and in most cases will not submit to the classic roles that many Korean men and their families would expect of them. Let us also not forget that Western men are just different and dangerous looking to many Korean women. We all know of women’s penchant for the bad, the mysterious, and the risky, and Western men fit this part well for Korean women.

Can any sympathy be given for MBC’s program and its producers? Some might say that there is no smoke without fire. Are Westerners blameless and merely the victims of Korea’s insecurities about foreigners? After all, they do use the same word for “alien,” “외국,” as they do for “foreigner.”

A few weeks ago there was a foreigner beach party on Wando beach, Jeollanamdo, which every teacher currently working in public schools in that province will have heard about. The party-goers caused quite a number of complaints to come from locals that included too much noise, rubbish on the beach, topless women, and, worst of the lot, the vandalism of a closed public toilet, which was broken into and although without any plumbing (the reason for the closure), was utilized anyway causing what I would imagine to be a particularly unpleasant sight and smell.

The regional coordinator of public school teachers was quite rightly furious and sent a strongly worded e-mail to all teachers warning against any future misconduct and declaring the price that would be paid if the perpetrators are identified.

A foreigner passed out in a Seoul subway station.

But this was all a one-off, right? I mean people from any country and any culture can have a bad day, and there are plenty of expats living in Korea who would turn their noses up at such behavior. While this last statement is obviously true, perhaps it is time that those of us coming from Western English-speaking cultures admitted that we have a growing problem with our moral behavior and reputation in other countries and especially with regard to Asian countries.

Many people in the West are quite rightly concerned about Islamic cultures and the threat they provide to us. Although in many cases hamstrung by political correctness, many of us realize that there is a problem with this culture’s attitudes towards many moral issues, such as homosexuality, law, and women’s rights. We recognize that not all Muslims behave or think this way, but also that this is a cultural phenomenon. In the same way, we must recognize that the perception of Western behavior in the Far East is a cultural phenomenon embedded in our culture, and there is a problem with it.

Most native teachers working in Korea are labeled by their students and many around them as handsome, kind, beautiful, and fun. We take these compliments with an embarrassed smile–even though we realize that many of us do not fit this persona–but also with an air of thinking that it might be true in our case (I know I do). It is our actions when drunk, however, that upset a lot of people. It is when drunk that our kindness, appropriateness, and general awareness of ourselves go completely out of the window. Many act with a carelessness and arrogance, which is seen as a complete disregard and lack of respect for the culture that they find themselves in.

The full moon foreigner fever in Thailand.

This is a less severe problem in countries like Korea, whose population of foreign visitors is mostly made up of workers, but is a major problem in more popular tourist areas such as Thailand. Full moon beach parties are infamous in Thailand, as foreign revelers wreck most of a small island in one night with drunken behavior and drug taking, leaving the locals to clean up the mess afterwards.

This, all too familiar, scene can be witnessed on Friday and Saturday nights in almost any town and city across my country of birth, the UK, and I suspect can also be seen in many towns and cities of other English-speaking countries. It is no surprise that Koreans notice this in their own cities too and are justifiably connecting it to our culture and questioning our morals.

The reason for the proliferation of acting stupidly and irresponsibly when drunk is entirely cultural. In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them. In the revelrous corner of Western culture, if you can vomit over someone, have a fight, have a one-night stand, spend the night in a police cell, pick up an injury by doing something dangerous, offend a vulnerable minority, and/or lose control of your bowels or bladder, it has been a successful night and you will be rewarded for it with the fame and popularity your story of the evening will bring (though you may regret it later).

Even those of us who do not drink, or just drink and behave themselves, must share in the responsibility of improving matters. We can do this by not popularizing the stories of the morning after the night before. When someone brags of their exploits of defecating in a sink, being arrested, getting in a fight or worse, we need to stop laughing and meet it with derision and bring shame on the person who did it. This is the only way we will begin to cure this sickness of our culture.

People have been enjoying drinking alcohol for thousands of years and I am not suggesting everyone be teetotal or for prohibition. It is clear that fun times can be enjoyed when drinking without being irresponsible, but until we start admitting to ourselves that there is a problem with our culture we will continue to have a bad reputation with those countries outside our culture and specifically with Asian countries. There are many cultural differences that also cause conflicts but our drinking problem is something we could and should do something about not only to improve how others see us but for our own cultural health and prosperity, too.

Foreigners drinking alcohol and playing cards in a Seoul subway car.

MBC’s reporting may have been a prejudiced shambles but many Korean conservative people do think this way about the Westerns visiting their shores. What is so troubling about this is the fact that most of these visitors are teaching their children. Perhaps we can understand why they are a little less willing to give us the benefit of the doubt on such matters. Like a werewolf on a full moon, there is an alarming difference between how our culture behaves during the day and the change that occurs on a night out. It is these nights out in the cities all over Korea that are giving Western men the tarnished reputation of having loose morals with Korean women. The students do not have the experience of seeing us in our wolf-like state and this could be the reason behind our glowing reputation with the young, but our poor reputation with the old.

This undoubtedly has much to do with American soldiers in the past and present also, but we are still not helping. I have seen, first-hand, enough examples on the few nights out I have been on this year of general unsuitable behavior and poor moral judgment specifically related to the treatment of Korean women. These include two instances of fellow teachers cheating on their Korean girlfriends, obvious plans by Western men on making Korean women drunk in order to sleep with them, a man urinating out of the balcony of a 17th floor apartment complex, and threatening actions towards Korean passers-by on a street–all this in just two nights out.

It is easy to compare the possible treatment of women by Western men and Korean men and decide that because of the traditions in Korea, Korean women can potentially have a more equal and more pleasant relationship with a Western man, and it is easy to see why they are attracted to the idea.

Yet instead of focusing on comparisons and Korean men’s attitudes, maybe we should be focusing on ourselves and getting our own house in order. Until we do this there will always be some justification, even if it is just a sniff of justification, from those Korean conservatives that helped make and sympathize with MBC’s awful program.

___________________________________________

Christopher Smith is an Englishman currently living in South Korea with his Korean wife. They live in a small city called Suncheon in the far south of the country, away from the more westernized hubs of Seoul and Busan which has given him a unique insight into the culture of South Korea. He first moved to Korea four years ago and has been here on and off ever since. He and his wife eventually plan to move back to England to live permanently.
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63 Responses to “Drunk and Stupid: How Debauched Foreigners Feed Koreans’ Prejudices”

  1. Koreans aren't more moral Says:

    There are of course asshat foreigners who need to check their behavior, but I simply have to disagree with the idea that Koreans shame drunken behavior. That’s not true at all. If anything, I would say Koreans excuse bad behavior while drunk more than Westerners do. Being drunk has been successfully used in court as a defense numerous times. Every hoesik I have been on has featured Korean-on-Korean fisticuffs and plenty of vomiting. It’s all seemingly forgotten about it the next day — no repercussions. As for infidelity, it is rife in this country. I live beside a bunch of love motels — trust me its not married couples using them, at least not both halves together. I would seriously question the idea that Koreans do these things any less than Westerners — it is a conceit believed by some Koreans, but it is rubbish. This society has a huge underbelly of debauchery. What is true is that there are a lot of young, male foreigners in Korea, and young males *everywhere* chase skirt and drink too much.

  2. Ian Says:

    -After all, they do use the same word for “alien,” “외국,” as they do for “foreigner.”

    Umm… Not sure what you are getting at here. Do you mean “alien” as in a creature from outer space? Or are you referring to someone from another country?

    외계인 – someone from outer space
    외국인 – someone from another country

  3. Maj.America Says:

    This article makes little sense. Anybody that has spent any sort of time in Korea knows that not only do Koreans excuse drunken behavior more so then western counties do, but in many social instance encourage drinking yourself beyound those limits. Whereas in the U.S for example this behavior doesn’t really have a place after college.

  4. Chris Says:

    The article wasn’t intended to compare morals of Westerners and Koreans, but was a criticism of Western deterioration of our normal good behaviour when drunk and how badly it reflects on us. I can assure you that the behaviour of specifically drunk people in Korea, which is sometimes bad of course, is generally no where near as bad as can be seen on the average Friday or Saturday night in my country or with what I have seen amoung foreigners in my city in Korea.

    I have no love for Korean morals generally, which if you want to know my opinion about you can read the various blogs I have written on the subject at smudgem.blogspot.com.

    In reply to Ian, yes my mistake, should have run that one by the trouble and strife!

  5. wetcasements Says:

    Ultimately adults are responsible for their own behavior, period. The problem with the MBC was that it was a classic racially based smear. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” is precisely the thinking behind racism in America as well — “I don’t have any problems with blacks but hey, let’s face it, they are more likely to rob you or do drugs so call the police if you seen one walking in your neighborhood.” Sorry, but that’s textbook racism.

    Criticize drunken bros all you want (I know I do), but don’t paint all ex-pats with the same brush.

    “as foreign revelers wreck most of a small island in one night with drunken behavior and drug taking, leaving the locals to clean up the mess afterwards.”

    This is way off. Yes, there are places in Thailand or Laos where people party their asses off but they can only do so because local hotel and restaurant owners are making money off of them. You could argue that it’s a form of cultural imperialism, but it’s not a good metaphor here. The locals in these situations enable the foreigners, the foreigners don’t “force” the locals to sell them beer and drugs and rooms and “happy” pizzas.

  6. Chris Says:

    @wetcasements – maybe you could explain what race ‘westerners’ are? Don’t confuse race and culture. It seems as though if you criticize Koreans for being too conservative, being closed minded or having a dated attitude to women you are a forward thinking decent member of society. However, if you criticize one aspect of Western culture, you are a racist.

    Remember race is in the DNA, in the skin colour, and physical appearance, that is why racism is so ridiculous. It is obvious that black, white, Asian, etc, are all a part of one human race it is just a minor physical difference caused by an expression of different genes. What really counts is how people think and how they behave, and if we see patterns of bad thinking and bad behaviour within a group of people we have a right to critize it. Foreigners in Korea do this all the time with regard to Korean culture, sometimes justifiably, sometimes not. What should be argued is the validity of what has been said, not pointing to racism when culture is the subject, not race.

    Also, can’t help but notice a contradiction in what you have said. In the first line you say this:

    “Ultimately adults are responsible for their own behavior, period.”

    In the last line you write:

    “The locals in these situations enable the foreigners, the foreigners don’t “force” the locals to sell them beer and drugs and rooms and “happy” pizzas.”

    Are you not partly excusing bad behaviour because it is the locals fault for selling them beer and drugs?

    And lastly, I never said all foreigners were guilty and therefore painting them with the same brush, just that there is a pattern emerging in our societies. If I am wrong about this by all means come back at me with a reasoned argument refuting what I said. Using racism card is simply a misunderstanding and a red herring, and I suspect used to make the person who commented look good.

  7. Allison Turner Says:

    I agree that there are some truly rotten people among those who come to Korea to teach. But don’t let the education offices and schools off the hook just yet. It’s a known fact that many schools encourage and even pressure their foreign teachers to drink during school dinners and while out with the Korean English teachers. Also, EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE orientations and training workshops all include hours of “training” on how to drink in Korea and how to drink heavily. It has been happening for many years. In fact, the 2012 GEPIK orientation workshop book includes the “advice” to drink as much as you can, even if you pass out or vomit. Finally, as long as the schools hire teachers in their 20′s simply because of blonde hair and blue eyes, and not qualifications/experience, we will continue to see excessive drinking from those who still have a collegiate mindset. Why, the University of Wisconsin at Madison has an office set up to direct graduates to teaching jobs in Korea and that university is widely known as a “party school.” If that’s who they hire to teach then expect excessive drinking by teachers.

  8. RokDoc Says:

    “In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them. In the revelrous corner of Western culture, if you can vomit over someone, have a fight, have a one-night stand, spend the night in a police cell, pick up an injury by doing something dangerous, offend a vulnerable minority, and/or lose control of your bowels or bladder, it has been a successful night and you will be rewarded for it with the fame and popularity your story of the evening will bring…”–Chris, are you kidding me? Where did you grow up (is this a Brit thing)? Are you talking about frat boys or hooligans or teens and 20-somethings? Lose control of your bowels? What are you on about? Fame? What fame?
    And, really, have you been living in Korea? Have you been out in Gangnam or Yangjae on any weeknight where businessman stumble along, vomiting as they go, sometimes sleeping on the streets? Perhaps your “socially acceptable” needs more explanation–being drunk in Korea is socially acceptable and part of the culture.
    Alcohol is available everywhere, 24 hours a day. Not drinking is seen as antisocial and not knocking back soju or boilermakers or whatever is on the table gets you stares and suggestions to drink up. You should know this after “living” in the country.
    Furthermore, sure, if you roll into Itaewon or HBC or Hongdae, you’ll find the fools, frauds, alchies, psuedo-teachers, weekend warriors and the like wallowing in the “sickness” (as you call it) of bacchanalia. Meanwhile, the large majority of expat residents will be living their lives with integrity and an eye to reality.

  9. schmuckers Says:

    Thank you, Christopher for this thoughtful piece. When one is criticized, one’s first thought should be: ‘Is this true? Why would anybody think that about me?’, not ‘YOU’RE WRONG AND RACIST!!!’

    Being wary of foreigners is not ‘racism’.

  10. Allison Turner Says:

    I do have to add that Christopher Smith sounds like a perfect example of an expat who’s been in Korea too long. How can you tell? Those who’ve been in Korea too long start to think of Korea as the center of the universe and see Koreans as “clean” and everyone else as “unclean.” It’s all part of going over to the dark side of the force.

  11. Larrym Says:

    #2 gotta say, that’s a pretty embarrassing mistake.

  12. Chris Says:

    “In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them. ”

    I don’t find this true, in fact I find this the complete opposite. Many people act stupid when they’re drunk and people give him/her a pass because they were drunk. This includes rapists who were given more lenient sentences.

  13. Aaron P Says:

    As others have said, Korean culture encourages drunken behavior much more than Western cultures. I have seen my managers/principals dead drunk on multiple occaisions. I knew of Korean teachers would would openly admit to being hung over at work and felt no shame. Heck, all one has to do is walk down the street and count the piles of vomit to see how many drunk old men wandered through that particular part of the sidewalk. There have been more than a few instances where I have seen passed out Korean men laying out on the sidewalk in the middle of the day (and no, from the looks of things, they were not homeless).

    Granted, drunk and rude foreigners do not give us a good image but the truth of the matter is, when a drunk Korean man makes an ass out of himself, this society will shrug and say, “He’s just drunk, it’s not his fault”. When a foreigner is drunk, then they say “Those Americans (even if the foreigner isn’t American) are so disgusting and drunk”.

    Also, the Korean word for alien is not “외국”.

  14. Aaron P Says:

    Also, as someone else pointed out, the recruiters and school boards want youg, unqualified, 20-somethings to teach and will skip over highly qualified older teachers due exclusively to looks. If they do this, they only have themselves to blame when they find out that young 20-something fresh out of college will be drinking it up over the weekend.

  15. Nicholas Says:

    No – you sir are engaging in waygugin apologies for no reason. Most native English teachers are law abiding and when they are stupid or drunk are noticed because they are visible.
    Do you actually live in Korea? Doesn’t sound like it from your silly comments about Koreans feeling ‘shame’ at being drunk. Hard drinking, getting blind drunk, blacking out on the sidewalk or street, going to work with a hangover and turning up to English class with a hangover are all socially acceptable in Korea as they happen so frequently and Koreans talk about this so normally with little to no hint of shame.
    Stop trashing the majority of English teachers based on a minority of them.
    I could tell you about what a minority of Koreans and Korean-Americans do in my home country including getting involved with Korean gangs that extort Korean store owners, overstaying their visas if they’re students and discriminating actively against Blacks and then being shocked by the fact that it’s against the law to do so. I could tell you about gypos who abuse children in Korea then flee to Japan, murder people and then get a visa to live in Korea, and sell/take drugs.
    Again – you are blowing up something that is a matter of what a minority of people do from any racial-ethnic background.
    The Korean obsession with the actions of few people in a country of 48 million or so is a joke when it’s not giving Korea the reputation of being incredibly xenophobic. Korea will never get the respect it wants from other countries til it changes its attitudes and stupid people like you are simply encouraging this kind of rubbish.

  16. CJM Says:

    No matter where you go, there will be good apples and bad apples.

  17. GPS Says:

    I in no way support the misbehavin’ of expats in Korea, male or otherwise, but if you think that the local community is largely immune to wanton drunkeness here, you most definitely have not been in the same South Korea as I have. I also take offense at the reinforcement of the stereotype that westerners are somehow morally inferior to Koreans. Many Koreans believe this, I agree, but it is a myth. I have lived and worked in Seoul for 15 years (the last 10 at a well-respected university). Excessive alcohol consumption is both rampant and promoted, and widespread sexual/romantic infidelity can easily be proven by the enormous number of motels, yeogwans, danlanjujeoms, hostess (and host) bars, room salons, sexual harassment charges, etc. Westerners are an easy target (all too easy due to the stereotypical reinforcement of a minority of yahoos) to point fingers at, but this posting just doesn’t hold water, in my informed opinion.

  18. Colin Says:

    I think everyone on this reply page has made good observations. It seems to me, that everyone is trying to solidify a “right” answer to the situations we find here and in other parts of the world. I propose this:

    People are all the same, no matter where you go. They drink too much, they beat their spouses and others, they cheat in relationships, they buy sex, drugs and other negatively perceived things. The y barf and urinate in public and they act a fool. They also treat others with respect, abide by the laws of the lands and generally act in a composed and mature manner. So what is the real point here? I do not agree entirely with the author, but I also do not agree entirely with anyone else in this thread. It is ultimately up to each and every one of us to be responsible for our own actions.

  19. Rene Says:

    The article makes an attempts to be fair and for that, I cannot fault the author, he is at least trying to look at the other side.. However, I detect a very biased viewpoint that we would be very quick to condemn in people of other cultures if they did the same to us.. I would like to address the one paragraph in particular. I could find more that are generalizing and makes assumptions, but this is a comment section, so I will try to be economical.
    “It is all too easy to see where the paranoia comes from about Western men with Korean women, especially in conservative Korean men. Their insecurities are heavily based in history and culture and also stem from the fact that traditional values in Korean culture favor the men; it is they who are in the more comfortable ground in a relationship, while women take on the roles of submissive and old-culture duties of cooking, cleaning, and generally taking care of the family” continues below
    If you substituted Korean men for white men the foreign community would be in an uproar. But it is okay to generalize about conservative Korean men and their “insecurities”. How do you know that Korean men have “insecurities” and how do we know that so much stems from these same ”insecurities”? Why didn’t you mention how small a certain part of the body anatomy is while you’re at it?
    Continued from the same paragraph. “Men don’t want this to change and women do want this to change, so immediately the attraction of Western men for Korean women becomes apparent.”
    Do all men in Korea feel this way and do all Korean women want this? How do you know this? Did you ask all of them? If a Korean wrote this as an essay, I would give him/her a rather low grade.
    I already know this is not going to be popular with the foreign community Thanks for reading

  20. And on the drunken, high and sexually miscreant foreigner (and gyopo!) front… Says:

    [...] 16, 2012 Written by Robert Koehler Leave a Comment Over at Three Wise Monkeys, Christopher Smith writes the unthinkable—that Westerners living in Korea may be contributing to their own occasionally besmirched [...]

  21. Chris Says:

    Thanks for the comments on the article (honestly). This was actually the first time I had submitted any article and was a good learning experience. Because of your comments I have revised my opinion slightly; Koreans are certainly not well behaved when drunk, I agree with you, maybe even worse than foreigners, BUT! I do still think foreigners are a little more noticeably drunk and licentious, and they obviously stand out more in a place like Korea. Perhaps also, my country is especially bad for anti-social drunken behaviour.

    I think because of one sentence of sloppy writing and one sentence that was poorly explained the key point of the article was lost and that is what I summed up in the last paragraph. It was actually not an article comparing the cultures so much, I just wanted to be critical of our own behaviour as a culture irrespective of Korean people’s behaviour.

    I wanted to bring some balance to the argument and present the argument from the other side. And for all those judging me as a Korea lover, I would love you to read some of my blogs to see just how wrong you really are.

  22. thesupplanter Says:

    Christopher Smith certainly sounds like a fine upstanding gentleman, who will undoubtedly be instantly recognised by all Koreans as not being one of the bad eggs. I wish he and his lovely wife all the very best for the future. Why can’t more foreigners behave like Christopher, and simply come over, act deferentially to a different culture that shows little respect for them, and find themselves a lovely wife and settle down? The mind boggles.

    I do hope before Christopher and his lovely wife leave the peninsula, he manages to take the opportunity to enjoy an evening out with some kind Korean gentlemen on one of their civilised work outings. Such sophisticated affairs, where tea drinking, polite chit-chat, and discussion of the finer things in life entail. I think then he will have an accurate model for comparison, and perhaps be able to distinguish more clearly between moral superiority, hypocrisy, and xenophobic raving.

    Finally, I think Christopher is perfectly correct to mention the tropics as further crime scenes of Western degeneracy. Why, when Korean gentleman visit Thailand and the Philippines on their ‘golf tours’ they are models of upright behaviour and decency. Their contributions to the local economy often offsetting the need for rural families to concern themselves with the financial welfare of their daughters, who are subsequently able to contribute back to the family coffers.

    My only wish is that more foreigners take a long good look at themselves and adopt Christopher’s upstanding moral philosophy.

  23. Ramon Rabada Says:

    Everybody should go to the Full Moon PArty in Thailand at least once in their lifetimes.

  24. Koo Says:

    We have to be a lot mroe carefull when we say Koreans as if Koreans are generally the same in all cases. In some cases you can generalize but in many cases you cannot.

    Koreans generally dont admonish someone who gets so drunk but they do not celebrate it like the foreigner (English teacher and military) population in Korea. Mostly because it is the western culture but also because the majority is 20 something.

    While I agree with problems the drunken behavior culture of above mentioned foreigner population cause by showing a bad image ot the Korean society it is not what is causing the Koreans to feel that there is a problem of foreigner men taking advantage of Korean women.

    The reason Koreans think its a problem is several fold. You cannot simply attribute it to one or two things. And throwing out words like xenophobia and racism is so lame.

    One of the factors is the fact that Foreginers automatically get special treatment just because they are white and speaks english:
    1. Special Visitor Status
    2. Movie Star Image (cause its what Koreans grew up with)
    3. Respect Teacher Culture

    There is a bunch of Korean women who are either too afraid to look dumb or despise the westerners cause they have priviledge by birth and countries like the US did not even grant tourist visa to Koreans (esp women).

    But there is also a large percentage of Korean women who want to interact with English speaking people either because they want to practice or because its different and seems interesting.

    So while the Korean guy has an advantage to meet the first kind of Korean women above but the English speaking guy has an advantage when it comes to the second group of women.

    It is this special advantage that Koreans think can lead to problematic encounters.

    #1 the Korean woman in group 2 cannot read in between the lines when a foreigner approaches them. Western women can because they are used to it from years of experience at young age. But the man woman courtship ritual is very different betweek the two countries and so it obvious there will be mis leading or mis understandings that can hurt people.

    Perhaps we can say all men are the same whereever you go. But the difference is that because of the advantage the foreigner men have pull in a woman and the cultural differences in courtship that there is a higher rate of breakup and feelings of being used and hurt. If you have been mislead or dumped or forgotten you would know what I mean.

    The reservations that Koreans have are not based on just these I mentioned. But the problem is Foreigners cannot find out what these other issues are that brews the concerns Koreans have with foreigners dating Korean women. When some says Korean have issues it does not mean Koreans think ALL foreign men and predators and hurt Korean women. It just means there is a concern and these legitemate concerns should be properly addressed.

    But instead what happens is the foreigner cannot figure out what the other issues many Koreans have and arrogantly as they do say Koreans are this and Koreans are that (words like xenophobic, racist, selfish, hypocrites, etc..). Thus pertuating the resentment of foreigners by many Koreans.

  25. Allison Turner Says:

    Straight from the 2012 GEPIK orientation handbook, (Thanks, Matt B) “The big difference between Korean and Western drinking is how we handle our limits. The Korean attitude is different here. Getting drunk is only half of the battle. Once you are drunk, the real challenge is in how much more you can drink before you drop. And when you drop it is only a timeout for you;get back on your feet and drink some more. It is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, to drink beyond your limits here in Korea, as your friends will cheer you on. “

  26. Koo Says:

    Drinking a lot isnt the problem. Every country has that. It is the other stuff that happens afterwards that is being discussed. The fact is in general (not always) westerners cheer more the more extreme the friends behavior after being drunk. This is a huge difference.

  27. James Says:

    “The reason for the proliferation of acting stupidly and irresponsibly when drunk is entirely cultural. In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them.”

    Hahaha.

    For the record, the reason foreigners stand out when drunk is because they are a very visible minority. When 98% percent of the people in a country (per wikipedia) are of the same ethnicity any action a visible minority does will stand out whether its proclaiming themselves the Lizard King or scratching their nose at Lotteria.

  28. James Says:

    Koo, it’s OK to say all foreigners (hailing from potentially 192 different countries) act a certain way but not Koreans? Child please.

  29. Koo Says:

    not from 192 countries. Its about 5 that cover 95% of white English speaking community which is what we are talking about. Stick to the main issue and not troll around for irrelevant comments.

  30. Courtley Says:

    “The reason for the proliferation of acting stupidly and irresponsibly when drunk is entirely cultural. In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them.”

    Patently untrue based upon the experience of living within Korea for several years. You can defend the culture however you want to on the Internet, but the foreigners writing here aren’t living in Magic Kingdom America. We live in KOREA. We interacts with KOREANS, real Koreans going about their daily lives the way they always do. Foreigners who work in Korea see the real culture, not the brochure version. And one of the first things that inevitably stands out about Korea is its incredible tolerance for bad behavior by drunken older men. It’s a serious problem that is simply not being addressed by the government or by society. I’m sure there’s plenty of stupid foreigners do stupid drunken things in Itaewon every weekend, but not because they grew up in a country where “I was drunk” can be a viable defense in a courtroom, as it can be here.

  31. Courtley Says:

    @thesupplanter

    “I do hope before Christopher and his lovely wife leave the peninsula, he manages to take the opportunity to enjoy an evening out with some kind Korean gentlemen on one of their civilised work outings. Such sophisticated affairs, where tea drinking, polite chit-chat, and discussion of the finer things in life entail. I think then he will have an accurate model for comparison, and perhaps be able to distinguish more clearly between moral superiority, hypocrisy, and xenophobic raving.”

    Ha, yes, exactly.

    As for Christopher . . . written like the typical white male expat who really believes he can exonerate himself of the hatred he senses for ‘stealing’ a Korean woman by castigating the bad behavior of other foreigners. This is a totally failed mission.

    Of all the things to criticize foreigners in Korea over, as their behavior compares to Koreans, drinking has to be one of the most ridiculous. This is a nation with a massive unaddressed alcoholism problem, and the domestic violence and violent crime stats in relation to alcohol are insane.

    The thing is, Koreans do not hate western men because they drink or cheat on their Korean girlfriends, they simply hate them because they date and marry Korean women, and because Korean women are increasingly open about their sexual preference for white men. No amount of good behavior and hand-wringing “I’m on your side” articles are going to shift the deep-seated, evolution-based jealousy of Korean men towards white men. In their minds,they have a limited pool of women to choose from, men from what they suppose to be the more powerful and influential cultures come into their country and their women gravitate towards them. I think most men can understand instinctively why this would fuel incredible resentment and hatred, and to delude oneself into thinking it’s about the groups of white kids who drink soju on the subway ride home from Itaewon is simply foolish.

    The resentment white foreign men experience in Korea is about globalization and tribalism and territory and threatened masculinity and sexual anxiety and jealousy. It’s not going to go away if every foreigner became a model teetotaler overnight; it will only go away if Korean women stop desiring white men and white men stop sleeping with Korean women, and of course, this is not going to stop anytime soon. And I’m certainly not saying there’s any ethical imperative why consenting white men and Korean women should not be able to date/hook up/get married and start populating the peninsula with multiracial children. But to try to pass the responsibility for this resentment towards white men with Korean women face in Korea on some isolated incidents, that generally occur in about 3 main locations in Seoul, is to ignore the real issue.

  32. f Says:

    if you are english, why do you use american spelling?

  33. Ehlsah Says:

    Thank you for saying what I think.

    Sorry if it offends anyone, but it’s time for Foreigners to quit treating other countries like their own personal frat house. What you do doesn’t just reflect on you, doesn’t just reflect on you personally, it reflects on everyone from that area in Korea and that country of origin.

    You are a guest in the this country, and a role model. Students, teachers and parents and other teachers see you. You should act accordingly. Be a positive influence and be responsible for your actions.

    This isn’t spring break in Florida. This is someone else’s home, their culture, and we as guests owe to ourselves and them, to be respectful so they want us here not wishing they could kick us out. Would we want them acting the way foreigners are now in our home countries? I do not think so. So think before you act, watch what you say and consider those around you. Impressions goes a long way. It also goes a long way for your personal reputations…schools know which teachers do what and when because of the fact that the public observes and knows and sometimes does tell the school someone works in what they saw. Don’t think for a moment a person behavior goes unnoticed.

  34. Rex Says:

    @Koo

    I don’t agree with everything you said, but I do feel that people stereotype Koreans (especially men) unfairly as “scared” and xenophobic against white men.

    And let’s get this straight we are talking about white men. As a brown American living in Seoul I can tell you Korean women are not jumping all over me, the attention goes to white guys (IF THERE IS ANY AT ALL…too many assume that Korean women are all in love with white men THEY ARE NOT, just some have that preference).

    In fact, let’s not even get into the stereotypes that you face in this country if you are brown or black. That’s a whole other issue that Koreans as well as many white foreigners don’t even wanna touch on because it’s even more sensitive than this.

    As for the article, I’ve never been to England, but the writer is making it seem like a bunch of lousy people if that’s how you characterize them on a normal night of drinking. I have seen debauchery in America but it stops after college for a vast majority of people.

    Speaking as an American, I think some of the drunk behavior comes from the fact there are no Public Intoxication or Open Container laws in Korea. Many young Americans come here and get very excited because it’s like a whole new freedom.

    Also there is a drinking culture here that can be very unhealthy and dangerous. I have seen it with my own eyes. And as an American I can tell you drinking is far more accepted and prevalent here.

    I was shocked to find out that it is very normal for co-workers to get black out drunk on WEEKNIGHTS. This shocked me, as I’ve only seen this sort of work behavior on SOME special occasions and SOME weekends in America. Back in America I would have never dreamed in a thousand years of getting drunk in front of my boss, here it’s a popular pass time.

  35. 3WM Media from Seoul. East meets West: The Music of the Spheres Collides | CARL ATTENIESE Says:

    [...] Drunk and Stupid: How Debauched Foreigners Feed Koreans’ Prejudices [...]

  36. Allison Turner Says:

    Christopher Smith,
    You have stirred up quite a hornet’s nest with your article, but something has been bugging me about it. You see, you level some strong accusations regarding drunken behavior by foreign teachers in Jeollanamdo. You offer as your “exhibit A” a drunken beach party with nudity and vandalism. Can I ask you what proof do you have that there was a foreigner beach party on Wando beach, Jeollanamdo? When did this happen?
    Were you there or did you just hear about it? Did you ever consider that it might just be an internet rumor with no basis in fact? You also claim that drunken foreign women were running around topless and that damage was done to the facilities BY drunken FOREIGNERS. Again, were you there or did you just happen to hear about this at a later date? Who sent out an email from Jeollanamdo education office to the public school teachers? What was in the email? Again, if you can prove it all happened, then, by all means please provide some proof. Have a good night.

    Allison

  37. hardyandtiny Says:

    “The reason for the proliferation of acting stupidly and irresponsibly when drunk is entirely cultural.”

    In my opinion your statement above has very little to do with culture and much to do with law.
    You’re mixing together very different concepts.
    It is not unusual for men to feel threatened by a man of another race having sex with a woman of their race. That racist position is cultural and has nothing to do with getting drunk and making an ass out one’s self.

    And…
    “It is easy to compare the possible treatment of women by Western men and Korean men and decide that because of the traditions in Korea, Korean women can potentially have a more equal and more pleasant relationship with a Western man, and it is easy to see why they are attracted to the idea.”
    And that is no different than a foreign man thinking he can have a more pleasant relationship with a Korean woman because of his cultural history…which is total bullshit.

  38. Double D Says:

    If you look hard enough you can find any behavior anywhere. It is appropriate to remember that the proportion of drunken Koreans doing idiotic things is far greater than their foreign counterparts. I can sure testify to this.

  39. Chris Says:

    @Allison – I am sure every foreign public school teacher in Jeollanamdo can back up this story and will know most of the details about it. The information was given as an e-mail from our regional coordinator who received complaints from the locals (he was very angry as i think I mentioned in the article) this was no internet rumour. The story was also backed up by some friends who attended and saw the carnage. There was a facebook page set up and a huge debate ensued about it afterwards, between the people who went, about whether they should cancel the next beach party, which they eventually did.

    The party was in late May or early June as memory recalls, please feel free to go on facebook and ask any public school teacher in Jeollanamdo who was around at the time. Search groups for Jeollanamdo teachers ask them to add you and ask away.

    I am (according to a lot of these comments) many things but a liar I am not. I have several eye-witness accounts, complaints from locals to our regional coordinator and his subsequent e-mail and possibly hundreds of people to back this up.

    Come on guys and girls this is starting to get ridiculous.

  40. thesupplanter Says:

    @Elsah

    Think for a minute about what you’ve just said. Then think: America + mass murder + lone Korean gunmen.

    It’s a stupid argument, but so is yours.

  41. thesupplanter Says:

    Oh and for white people behaving badly overseas, please google the following:

    ‘colonialism’ ‘imperialism’

  42. admin Says:

    @f editors follow AP+NYTimes stylebooks.

  43. Allison Turner Says:

    Chris, so you weren’t there? Don’t you realize that these internet stories can get exaggerated and embellished until they become more fantasy than fact? Next time you get on your high horse and lecture other foreigners about their behavior how about doing based on an incident or chain of events you actually witnessed?

  44. Dee Tee Says:

    I think you are pissing into the wind as most westerners will not take responsibility for their own actions.

  45. Charles Jackson Says:

    Christopher Smith, you ranted about all teachers in your province, all teachers in Korea, and all westerners in Asia because of an email you received based on an internet rumor? Now, do you feel foolish? You should. Talk about zero credibility.

  46. Chris Says:

    I wasn’t there but I have spoken to about 15 eye-witnesses personally. Again, it was not an internet rumour but an offical complaint written by locals to our regional coordinator and not denied by almost every single foreigner that attended.

    I get the feeling if I had actually been there I would have a bunch of comments saying what a hypocrit I was. I can’t win. Please stop reading only what you want to believe.

  47. Chris Says:

    And you do realise that by your standard of evidence no report on any subject or incident whatsoever would be creditable unless the jouranalist in question actually witnessed it in person everytime.

    Maybe you should ask yourselves why you are so keen to believe it didn’t happen.

  48. Rick Says:

    With the exception of pissing off a 17th story balcony, I’ve personally witnessed Koreans do every single one of the things foreigners are accused of here and worse, including such things as sexually assault women (and men) and excuse it because “oh, he/she’s drunk”. I’ve even seen vidoe virtually identical to the photo above of the foreigners playing cards on the subway– but with the roles reversed and the participants being a bunch of drunk Korean adjushis/adjumas who just finished their hike and were not only playing cards, but still drinking while sitting in the floor of the subway.

    Basically, this whole article says, “Since you’re a foreigner, you’re going to stick out. You’re going to be discrimated against. Things are going to be held against you….. soooo, you need to realize you’re living in a racist society, just accept that fact, and conform your actions to the to the unreal ideals of bigotry”.

  49. James Says:

    Allison “THE drunk” Turner.
    Here it is….

    Chris Devison chrisofficeofeducation@yahoo.com
    May 29

    to alexander.smal., happninmojo, conradf9658, patrick0108, petrolhead98, trevorhoole, rstanleythe2nd, me, el_grande_cerv., connienomad, mhdiesel, wahkid_fox14, yoonlee.ccm, mischasmith, grebmar, akashakanter, kt_the_brazill., lboesack, annie.d86, jamesdeetlefs, anclutte, mathew.valampa., alexandra.m.mo., asia.myers, ianmcintosh14
    Good afternoon folks,

    I’m going to skip the pleasantries and get right to the point here. First of all, I want to say that, although I’m not surprised in the least, I am extremely disappointed in the people this applies to.
    I know some of you feel I rant and rave on you about this and that and I try to ruin all your fun but that is not so. I’m just the one who has to deal with the mess people make. And some will say Korea is not open to foreigners and blah, blah, blah (insert remark here). I even expect I’ll get some well written emails with weak arguments about the issue as usual. Save it please, you are wasting my and your time. This won’t change my stance and that of many other foreigners in Korea.
    I’m trying to work on making the life of all foreigners better in Korea, especially in our program, and many of our teachers here are doing the same. However, some people are making it very difficult for the rest of us to do so. So, a big thanks to those teachers who are helping the cause by doing wonderful things and for the others, you will know if this applies to you or not.
    This morning I was greeted with complaints from your last Wando Beach Party. The community of Koreans near the beach are extremely unhappy about your last party. One of their complaints included the large amounts of trash left behind on the beach and surrounding area that they have been cleaning since the last party. I know usually people were good to clean up but obviously a lot was missed this time. This is something that is expected of anyone who has a picnic, camping trip or any other outdoor event. With so many of you attending it would not have taken that long to clean things up properly. Other complaints included the noise well into the night, topless women (classy in conservative Korea) and the generally inappropriate behavior at area establishments.
    The area citizens said that foreigners are not welcome anymore and they do not want any of us at the beach again. Many other foreigners like to visit this beach and because of this they may not be welcomed as they were in the past- thanks. Also, they might not be served at the restaurants in the area and although they never mentioned this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the police are called during your next party there. If things are noisy late at night and people are running around naked, I can’t say I blame them. I know I wouldn’t enjoy this in my neighborhood. It might take an arrest or two to get the point across.
    I know I’m getting tired of complaints about teacher’s behavior, so are other foreigners. So just imagine what the Koreans may feel like? Take some time to think about your behavior and ways you can improve it. I understand we are more restricted here than home but you could still be arrested for these things at home too. They are not appropriate here or there nor would they be anywhere. I shouldn’t have to remind people that they are adults, not to mention teachers, but I find myself having to do so much too often.
    Whether or not you continue your plans for your next beach party is completely up to you. I was actually happy to see some people using it as an opportunity to do some fundraising. If you do, please consider the complaints the locals have and that they most likely will not be so welcoming to you this time. Take time to clean up and make sure the other people who attend are also aware of the complaints from the area so hopefully they will act accordingly. The problem is with these large gatherings is that you are always going to attract a few bad apples who will ruin for everyone. Also, this applies to everywhere not just Wando.
    To make you more aware of the bigger picture and the repercussions of some foreigners behavior I want to discuss something. In the rural areas in Jeollanamdo we are still growing but it has come to the point that we are now losing positions in the cities in Jeollanamdo. The cutbacks are small and are not due to financial reasons as one might think. The reason is many parents feel that we are not as effective as they once thought we were. Myself and many of the supervisors believe this is more to do with the perception of foreigners in Korea and the area. And as long as we have incidents like this going on we will continue to put ourselves out of jobs and continue to make things worse for ourselves.
    I know some of you don’t care because you’ll be leaving a in a month, year or whenever but take some time to consider others and the image you are presenting of your country and of foreigners in Korea in general.

  50. mike maon Says:

    Allison Turner and Charles Jackson
    I was at the wando beach party, I saw the chaos as did 100s of others. I can confirm Chris is in no way embellishing or inventing details. I’m not defending the opinions or conclusions expressed by Chris, but his facts are accurate.
    Let’s try to debate like adults without resorting to personal slander ‘talk about zero credibility’ etc.

  51. Copy Says:

    @Allison As a long time resident of Jeollanamd I can confirm this. foreigners, specifically someone from Daegu, broke into a locked bathroom. Then when all the toilets were clogged people did their business in a shower. If you don’t believe me, you can visit the mokpo Facebook page. If anything Chris underplayed how bad it was.

  52. Are Foreigners Responsible for Their Poor Stereotypes In Korea? | ROK Drop Says:

    [...] A recent article posted over at 3WM that tends to continue the recent trend at criticizing the behavior of foreigners in Korea.  I can understand the major premise of the article which is foreigners need to behave better in Korea, but some of his comparisons with Koreans I found just odd: The reason for the proliferation of acting stupidly and irresponsibly when drunk is entirely cultural. In Korea, if a person acts in a socially unacceptable way when drunk, they will feel shame for it because of the attitude of others towards them. In the revelrous corner of Western culture, if you can vomit over someone, have a fight, have a one-night stand, spend the night in a police cell, pick up an injury by doing something dangerous, offend a vulnerable minority, and/or lose control of your bowels or bladder, it has been a successful night and you will be rewarded for it with the fame and popularity your story of the evening will bring (though you may regret it later). [Three Wise Monkeys] [...]

  53. Allison Turner Says:

    Chris, Mike, and others,
    Christopher Smith made a number of allegations about foreign teachers in his province, in his article, and then simply refused to provide proof. The only proof he presented were postings on the internet and Facebook. Would you consider them to be 100% reliable? Me neither. He also sounded confused about the details. In fact, read comment #39. He didn’t even know what month the “beach party” took place. Needless to say, that doesn’t speak well for his credibility to get on a high horse and label everyone else a drunkard and vandal. It’s very disappointing that someone would make these kinds of claims without first making absoltely sure of all of the facts.
    It’s especially disappointing since I posted comments #7 and 25 in agreement with Mr. Smith’s point that some foreign teachers in Korea do drink to excess. They do and it is a problem, but in comments #7 and 25 I was pointing out that the school boards, (EPIK, GEPIK, and SMOE), also encourage excessive drinking through their “cultural orientation” training workshops. You never once responded to that claim that I proved in comment 25.
    In closing, Chris, you should have expected people to disagree with you. Obviously this is a controversial subject. You’re talking about people’s reputations and livelihoods. So, in the future, keep in mind that if you are going to make allegations of this nature expect someone to challenge you to back up your claims with proof. If you consider that to be “insulting” or “ridiculous” then maybe writing in public forums is not for you.

  54. gaelsano Says:

    “Many people in the West are quite rightly concerned about Islamic cultures and the threat they provide to us” The last president of Indonesia was a woman, Megawati. I also saw several Kazakhs today at the Expo, without any headdresses in sight (!). Why treat Muslims this way? I’ve met far more lax Muslims than not. I also don’t see Muslims re-introducing creationism and climate change denial into American public schools. The attitude borders on racist. Muslims are not the ones with neo-Nazi gangs; they’re not the ones yelling ethnic slurs like “Paki”.

    How would people react if I wrote “there are features of Jewish culture we should rightly be concerned about”. Hey, if you look at the Scriptures literally, there’s a lot of misogyny there, as well as child murder, genocide, etc. And hey, if we’re going to bring up terrorism why not bring up the forced eviction of an people, the Palestinians, from the land they live on and a state that grants citizenship based on ethnicity and jails people if they lie to their sexual partners about being Jewish.

    And don’t lump in foreigners with the subset of drunk, over-entitled, upper-middle-class Westerners. Most foreigners are not white nor Western. In fact a great many Africans and Southern and Southeast Asians are Muslim yet Christians are far more likely to be damaging to society. I don’t see mega-mosques grabbing all the real estate and avoiding taxes in the West or in Korea.

    Why not just start out by saying there are features of African-American culture we should be concerned about like misogynistic rap lyrics and idolization of thug life over a proper education and then backpedal by saying most blacks are good. What’s the difference?

    That said I agree with the sentiment of self-policing and intra-Westerner-policing.

  55. socializationisafunnything Says:

    thanks to james (comment 49) for posting the letter from chris devison to the jeolla group of ‘teachers’. and not only because allison turner stopped doing her business in the shower (i.e., troll-commenting here) after that. the 외국/외계(인) thing aside, one thing that i found perplexing was that the writer did not use a pseudonym or anonymize where he was from (in korea or otherwise). you had to have seen the allison turner’s coming, non?

  56. koreanman Says:

    This hatred against caucasian male is grwoing fast and i’m very concerned that there will be some incident against foreign men in korea. Already some racist groups coming out with slogan that is comparable to some neo nazi groups. I even saw one comment about killing foreign man in korean portal site Nate and it got so man likes(추천), it was unbelievable

  57. David Gutamala Says:

    Here we are again, the “You’re an ambassador for your country and all foreigners” nonsense that tries to make guilty that people racially stereotype me, rather than addressing how ridiculous racial stereotyping is in the first place. Thanks for the ‘unique insight into the culture of South Korea’, you special, unique snowflake.

  58. Basil Says:

    I was not at Wando. What makes the actions of some people who were at Wando represented of more than a very small minority of Westerners? And why didn’t the Westerners who went there have some proper organizing with telling people where the working bathrooms were exactly? It seems like what happened could have been avoided. Perhaps, some Westerns can be made to try to watch a group and take responsibility for each other. You were trying to compare Muslims in Western Europe and expats in Korea. Such comparisons are problematic. Only a small percentage of Westerners are associated with such uncontrolled behavior in Korea. All those who teach here have degrees. They have a lower crime rate than Koreans, even. I could also remind you that in North America, some Koreans operate sex businesses in violation of North American human trafficking laws and many immigrate illegally. Koreans are hardly more angelic. We’re all human. Most of the people here have degrees, so they act better, disproportionately, than people in their home countries, but this country does encourage too much drinking. I don’t think that the behavior at Wando represents beyond a small minority of us, and there’s nothing I can do to stop the fact that some will behave this way. For the record, I have seen drunk Koreans being violent, throwing up. The thing is when we do it, it’s Westerners doing it.

  59. Joesph M. Says:

    This is to the author of the above opinion piece. I have two main points I think have been ignored.
    First, you seem to have based most of your presumptions about foreign native teachers on whatever happened in Wando Beach in Jeolla. You mentioned something about it but where are the details? In fact, you seem to get upset if anyone even asks you about what happened there. I have to say that frankly I have heard nothing about it and you should always assume that most readers know nothing about your subject. Whatever did happen at Wando beach may have been big news in your area but around Seoul we’ve heard nothing. No one here is going to condone illegal or immoral behavior by native teachers. Obviously you have been involved in some sort of online discussions about it so educate us. Why not fill in the missing details? You’d probably find that to be a better approach than labeling foreigners in Korea as alcoholics and enablers.
    The second point is about something that is missing in your contribution. You see, you raised the problem of alcohol abuse by foreign native teachers, but where is your proposed solution? The only solution you seem to be offering is that everyone just stop drinking alcohol. How realistic is that? Your dismissive attitude reminds me of all of those “Just say no to drugs” advertisements that took a complex social issue and tried to offer a simplistic answer. The real world doesn’t work that way. We are in Korea and there appear to be few, if any, limits on alcohol consumption for anyone except children. Even more important is the fact that native English teaching is not just a temp job or summer employment. We are full-time employees with contracts, salaries, responsibilities, and legal rights. That’s important to bring up because, as you have stated, EPIK coordinators want native teachers to stop drinking. They even sent out a memo or email about it, right?
    But do you, and your EPIK coordinators, think stopping alcohol abuse is a simple thing? Let’s say that a native teacher wants to quit drinking, but needs help. That would be something we would all support, eh? Well, what options would that teacher have? Are there any employee substance abuse programs available for alcoholic teachers? What about through hospitals or churches? What about EPIK? Don’t just assume that they are serious about this issue just because they sent out an email. Challenge them to take positive steps other than firing teachers. Do they offer any programs for teachers who want to stop drinking? Do they offer any guides to counseling or outreach programs? Uh, that’s a big N-O. So, for all of the big talk there’s frankly little substance to the claim that EPIK wants teachers to stop drinking alcohol. If they do not take some positive steps then they’ll just replace these teachers with even more drinkers and be forced to fight the same battle over again. Plus, keep in mind that most native teachers do drink responsibly or not at all.
    As for you, how about taking a deep breath and waking up to the fact that Korea is bigger than your province, that the problems of the world are more complex than you first realized, and that simple answers don’t work with issues like substance abuse.

  60. just me Says:

    To help eliminate this kind of behaviour EPIK needs to raise the min age to at least 25 as some other countries do.

    Also they should be asking for Police Background checks FROM KOREA not back home, which makes no sense for somebody renewing.

    There are pockets of drunks primarily Seoul and Busan and weekend partygoers. Would it be morally acceptable for a public school teacher to be running naked on a beach back home?? These types of events draw ‘a certain crowd’ to put it bluntly.

    And I dont know what your comparison with Muslims is?? This is just as bad as feeding into misinformed media hype and stereotypes. Stop watching CNN and try making real muslim friends!

    We are all ambassadors and representatives of our country, family, ethnicity, and profession, whether we like it or not. We should be aware of that and the lasting impact it will have on others and future teachers yet to come.

  61. Stacy Says:

    I don’t care what reason there may be for a guest column like this one. All I know is that there are thousands of native speakers who are quietly doing their best at their jobs. They do extra work and help students and all too often have to deal with highly negative and disorganized Korean co-teachers. Where’s the credit for them? Why the constant focus on a few troublemakers?

  62. Been working here for over 5 years Says:

    Chris, I just now read your post, and I want you to know that I fully agree with your premise that foreigners here need to start respecting and trying to understand the Korean culture instead of making excuses for bad behavior.

    There are differences in what is acceptable behavior between cultures. Drinking (a lot) in Korea: totally acceptable, even in professional settings. Drinking (a lot) in the US: acceptable in casual social situations, but not in professional settings. There are differences in what is acceptable/not acceptable/and just plain bull-shi$ behavior.

    Huge party on the beach with trash left everywhere and shit all over a bathroom your buddy broke into: NOT ACCEPTABLE IN ANY CULTURE.

    Yes, some Koreans behave badly as well, but their bad behavior is within what Koreans think is “bad, and not condoned, but happens”.

    Many times Westerners here spend their time justifying what in Koreans’ minds is “extremely bad, not condoned, and never happens”-type behavior, saying “Well, I see drunk Korean ajusshis on the streets all the time, so shut up about what I and my friends do”.

    Grow up people, and take responsibility for your own actions. And when people criticize your friends for bad behavior, don’t defend it.

    Good for you Chris, for writing what needs to be said.

  63. Michelle Tillman Says:

    Alright, lay off Christopher Smith. He has good intentions and maybe that would be enough in most cases like this. But, was anyone else wondering why all of this is coming up now? Did you know that the general attitude that “foreigners ruin beaches in Korea” has also shown up in other parts of Korea this summer, specifically in Busan. Think it’s a coincidence? It makes you wonder if all of the claims about foreigners destroying beaches is simply more
    anti-foreigner hysteria. Maybe it’s part of a broader effort in southern Korea to label foreigners as ‘dirty” by making claims about behavior at the beaches. Here are current news links about the “foreigners ruin beaches” hysteria in Busan.

    http://view.koreaherald.com/kh/view.php?ud=20120814000834&cpv=0

    http://news20.busan.com/news/newsController.jsp?newsId=20120725000111

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