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Intercultural Understanding: Interacting with Koreans

Intercultural Understanding: Interacting with Koreans. Beom Yoo (Chungbuk National University) (beomyoo@chungbuk.ac.kr). Aims of This Presentation. To help the participants better understand Korean culture in the areas of interpersonal communication and everyday life .

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Intercultural Understanding: Interacting with Koreans

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  1. Intercultural Understanding: Interacting with Koreans Beom Yoo (Chungbuk National University) (beomyoo@chungbuk.ac.kr)

  2. Aims of This Presentation • To help the participants better understand Korean culture in the areas of interpersonal communication and everyday life . • To help the participants avoid intercultural miscommunication when they interact with Koreans

  3. Lecture Plan • Talk about intercultural differences between high-context culture (Korea) and low-context culture (anglophone countries) • Provide explanations on various intercultural differences between Korean and anglophone countries that the participants need to be aware of to interact with Koreans in their everyday life

  4. Hall's model of cultural value orientation (Chen & Starosta(1998), Foundations of Intercultural communication,  p. 51) Low-context Culture • Overtly displays meaning through direct communication forms • Values individualism • Tends to develop transitory personal relationships • Emphasizes linear logic • Values direct verbal interaction and is less able to read nonverbal expressions • Tends to use "logic" to present ideas • Tends to emphasize highly structured messages, give details, and place great stress on words and technical signs

  5. High-Context Culture • Implicitly embeds meanings at different levels of the sociocultural context. • Values group sense. • Tends to take time to cultivate and establish a permanent personal relationship. • Emphasizes spiral logic. • Values indirect verbal interaction and is more able to read nonverbal expressions. • Tends to use more "feeling" in expression. • Tends to give simple, ambiguous, noncontexting messages.

  6. Individualistic Cultures vs. Collectivistic Cultures • Individualistic Cultures characterized by the primacy of individual goals, achievement benefiting the individual, self-esteem, and self-reliance • Collectivistic Cultures emphasize the subordination of individual goals to those of the group and place greater importance on the group's needs, norms, and beliefs relative to those of the individual

  7. Important Areas of Intercultural Differences in Communication

  8. Verbal Communication • linguistic expressions • stress and intonation • conversation topics • discourse structure/strategies • speech acts • conversational structure/strategies

  9. Nonverbal Communication • eye-contact • facial expressions • posture • hand gestures • body gestures • situational behavior • personal space • voice 

  10. Living Customs • daily life • special occasions

  11. Koreans' Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and Their Behaviors Most of the following examples have been cited from Ugly Koreans, Ugly Americans published in 2006 by BCM Media in Korea.

  12. Keeping one’s face is extremely important • Tend to be sensitive to hierarchical relation in a group • Tend to ask personal questions • Often respond negatively to complements • Often do not separate private matters with public matters • Building up “Jeong” (a feeling of caring about each other) is crucial. • Treat guests devotedly • Often make comments about appearance such as weight, height, nose, ears, or skin • Often smile at you after making a mistake or being embarrassed • Korean women cover their mouths when they laugh

  13. Often speak Korean among themselves and do not translate for a foreigner, even though they can speak English.    • Do not greet when passing by a stranger     • Tend to shake hands too long or too limply. • Male friends sometimes hold hands. • Females often hold each other with their arms around each others waist.  • Often have extensive small talk before business. • Tend not to express his/her opinion clearly when asked. • Often grab their neighbor's sleeve or hand to get his/her attention.

  14. Korean females often slap their friend next to them while bursting into laughter. • Some Koreans avoid eye contact  during a conversation to show respect. • Often eat dried squid in public. They also enjoy "cheonggukjang," which smells really bad to many westerners. • Parents tend to let their children disturb others in public. • Some Koreans stare at foreigners and talk about them in their presence. • Often make invitations or important announcements at the last minute at work. • Don't wear shoes inside their houses or apartments.

  15. Often close their eyes at a meeting to concentrate on listening. • One's seniority is more important than one's achievement or ability. • Many Koreans use a roll of toilet paper for tissues or paper napkins at home or at an office. • Often slurp loudly while eating noodles or soup. • Often reach across the table to pick up something instead asking their neighbor to pass it. • Many Korean men unbuckle their belts during meals when they feel they are tight.

  16. Many Korean use toothpicks after meals especially at restaurants. • Might add cream and sugar to coffee without asking their guests how they like it. • Korean men and women tend to form separate groups at parties, dinners, etc. • Some Koreans get into subways or elevators before others get off. • Have facial expressions that are flat and dull. • Some public restrooms are used by men and women in common. • Public restrooms often do not have toilet paper or paper towels.

  17. Korean students • Bow to their teachers • Wear uniforms • Tend to be quite noisy during the break • Tend to show passive attitude in class • Do cleaning up after school • Study at school till late at night (high school) • Tend to be afraid of speaking English

  18. Questions and Answers

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