Why do expats complain?
Ask A Korean brings up a good point - as my family have noted many times before - most of us foreigners (myself included, minus time spent with family) tend to gravitate towards comparatively well-off, 20-somethings who speak nearly fluent English, which can lead to a very skewed view of Korean society.
On one hand you have your Koreans in their 60s who grew up in constant danger of death from war and starvation, and on the other hand you have your Koreans in their teens who are self-absorbed, battling obesity problem.
Few people (including younger Koreans themselves) understand this point, no matter how many times the Korean screams about it: only 50 years ago, Korea was DIRT FUCKING POOR. It was one of the poorest countries in the world. Here is an example: when the Korean War happened, Ethiopia was one of the countries that sent a contingent to aid South Korea. Ethiopia!Roboseyo does a wonderful job of categorizing "complainers" by type -
- The Snark Olympians: Harsher! Meaner! Ruder!
- The Misdirected Culture-Shockers and Disappointed Orientalists: Next rung up on the ladder are the expats who complain not so much for the sport, but because they don't know any other way to articulate the culture-shock they're experiencing.
- The Off-Duty Diplomats: The next level goes especially for people who complain online, or expats who always run Korea down when they're around other expats.
- Alternate View Pointer-Outers like to divide complainers into the cathartic complainers and the social critics.
- The Kimcheerleading Counterbalances: Closely related to the off-duty diplomats.
- The (Maybe You Didn't Notice It Was) Affectionately Sarcastic: Some readers and listeners don't notice, can't notice, or intentionally ignore, the fact that some of us comment on this stuff because it amuses us, and we're not trying to be negative at all.
- The Social Critic
- The Constructive Social Critic
The majority of my complaining typically gets dished out to good ol' Mom (who is from Korea, I might add). Her reactions - sometimes based on her mood, whether or not Dad vacuumed the house, and the level of agitation in my voice - vary from, "Korea needs to work on changing that" to "I know how you feel, but just try to understand" to "Well, then come home already!"
I dare not "complain" to family members in Korea... rather, we discuss "how things differ in other parts of the world." For the most part, my family does a pretty good of understanding how I, the American, can often have an alternative perspective on culture, and like my mom, their reactions also vary from time to time. One thing, however, will never change - the constant requests to "Please learn how to eat ____ (i.e. goelbaengi or samgyeopsal) since you're in Korea," fully aware that what they say won't really make a difference - I will not give into eating snails or pork, people, no matter who you are or how nicely you ask me!
Anyway, I digress.
I suggest you all take 10 minutes out of your day for this read!
Ask A Korean