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How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« on: May 19, 2020, 04:32:33 pm »
Im a Korean-American and have been in Korea for 2 years now, with another 3~5 more years in anticipation (for work).

I think nearly every international person in Korea whos been here for a while has at some point felt the frustration towards the people, society, culture, system, etc.

Its strikes hard for me because i grew up in the States always hearing about how amazing Korea is, how great the korean heritage is, etc. And coming here and seeing how xenophobic, narrow minded, and simply toxic everything is just can make daily life suffocating.

Honestly makes me want to leave Korea and never return, never meet another Korean, and forever cut anything Korean out of my life.

Any tips on overcoming these feelings?

Or do yall just say f*** it, its Korea and ignore it?


  • NorthStar
  • Hero of Waygookistan

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    • July 05, 2017, 10:54:06 am
    • Mouseville
Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 04:40:20 pm »
Im a Korean-American and have been in Korea for 2 years now, with another 3~5 more years in anticipation (for work).

I think nearly every international person in Korea whos been here for a while has at some point felt the frustration towards the people, society, culture, system, etc.

Its strikes hard for me because i grew up in the States always hearing about how amazing Korea is, how great the korean heritage is, etc. And coming here and seeing how xenophobic, narrow minded, and simply toxic everything is just can make daily life suffocating.

Honestly makes me want to leave Korea and never return, never meet another Korean, and forever cut anything Korean out of my life.

Any tips on overcoming these feelings?

Or do yall just say f*** it, its Korea and ignore it?

It all depends on how much money you are making and where you place your loyalties.  If you want to hang out hat an be proud to be there, by all means...go for it. 

This is not an uncommon tale you are telling...


  • stoat
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 04:55:59 pm »
A good recipe for avoiding any feelings of bitterness living here would be

1) Don't come with any expectations 
2) Don't make any effort to learn the language or make Korean friends.
3) Hang out exclusively with foreigners. (but not ones who moan all the time)
4) Holiday exclusively abroad
5) Work for a foreign company or a place where you have minimum contact with Korean staff.
6) Find a Korean partner who can do all the local crap for you.
7) Live in Seoul.

It's worked for me  :smiley:
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 06:38:54 am by stoat »


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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 05:00:04 pm »
I had a kyopo friend who mentioned that as well. Just saying that the experience for Kyopos can be more xenophobic.

AFAIK this is just homesickness messing with you.
Thinking about all those contrasts but not remembering how awfully racist, shallow and petty some people in your country can be. But yeah, I remember going through many of these spells with other friends and luckily we were all a tight-knit group constantly yammering complaints about how this or that was so bad or different about Korea compared to the US/UK/AUS.
 
If you can get into a different headspace you will feel better about Korea. Eventually, the situation will be reversed, I only remember how positive and vibrant Koreans were and how much fun we had with our international group. Now, I am surrounded by people from one single culture, and however lovely and caring they are, it is just not the same energy as in Korea. I still remember Korea fondly.  :angel:
incumbo studiis


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2020, 05:56:54 pm »
A good recipe for avoiding any feelings of bitterness living here would be

1) Don't come with any expectations 
2) Don't make any effort to learn the language or make Korean friends.
3) Hang out exclusively with foreigners. (but not ones who moan all the time)
4) Holiday exclusively abroad
4) Work for a foreign company or a place where you have minimum contact with Korean staff.
5) Find a Korean partner who can do all the local crap for you .

It's worked for me  :smiley:
Well, I've got numbers 2 and 5 down :laugh: 

2 is the one that leaves me feeling super guilty though. Especially when I'm around my wife's family.


  • oglop
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 06:15:34 pm »
yeah well. i feel guilty too, but i keep saying i'd quite like to take 6 months to a year off work and study korean at a university, but my wife insists earning money is more important. i feel it's the only way i'd get better. and i'm not really sure when i'd use korean apart from when i'm around my wife's family, anyway. but it does mean i get to miss out on all the nagging from the MIL ;)

if i had known i would be in korea for this long, i'd have started by coming here on a student visa and studying korean. but i didn't know. meh. i'm over it.


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 06:37:35 pm »
Been here more than 23 years; have seen and experienced all sides of life here.

Travelled ALL over the country and had an amazing time...

Any negativity - and have certainly encountered some - wasn't enough to sour me that much; learnt to roll with it and get on with life.

Love Korean food... and the Craft beer 'revolution' here has raised my satisfaction index considerably.

Have some close Korean friends whom I've known for pretty much my entire time here - they have been nothing but helpful and gracious throughout.

I DO take the opportunity(ies) to undertake foreign sojourns twice a year; I am lucky I have a job that allows this.

Overall, to respond to the OP - no bitterness to get over - I have had a good life here!


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2020, 06:53:53 pm »
Been here more than 23 years
How's your Korean lol


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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2020, 07:22:16 pm »
"Bitter" is a misnomer.

Some food just IS bitter.

To feel bitter is all about EXPECTATIONS (even if tacit, based on assumptions).

I recall thoroughly enjoying my first year here, and the same experiences some experienced as "bad" i experienced as strange, funny and/or puzzlingly interesting!

Since 2002 I have had nothing to "get over", other than that foreigner who i let use my apartment (bed, kitchen, bathroom) during my two-month break to settle my dad's affairs/estate back home. He found the key to the second bedroom i had hidden, taped in the kitchen upper front cupboard panel where you had to feel in the dark looking for something. He unlocked that second bedroom and used my computer, my books, my DVDs (this was pre-smartphone age, my bike and whatever else he wanted and when i came back i was upset and  he didnt care, just said 'you didnt say i couldnt use that room'. I was livid. Thankfully hours later he was gone from my life. Man was i bitter. Retelling it now im not totally over it.


  • NorthStar
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2020, 07:54:03 pm »
Im a Korean-American and have been in Korea for 2 years now, with another 3~5 more years in anticipation (for work).

I think nearly every international person in Korea whos been here for a while has at some point felt the frustration towards the people, society, culture, system, etc.

Its strikes hard for me because i grew up in the States always hearing about how amazing Korea is, how great the korean heritage is, etc. And coming here and seeing how xenophobic, narrow minded, and simply toxic everything is just can make daily life suffocating.

Honestly makes me want to leave Korea and never return, never meet another Korean, and forever cut anything Korean out of my life.

Any tips on overcoming these feelings?

Or do yall just say f*** it, its Korea and ignore it?

OP, the truth is, there ARE folks who have enjoyed their time in Korea...BUT...those folks are in the minority and usually fit in quite well with the culture (how that dynamic works, is another discussion).

Koreans just don't want outsiders in their country.  Yet, as a country, it wants to parade around as if it is some model nation, representing what it means to be a highly progressive nation.  I will concede that in some cases, there are advantages to living there.  But you will be made to feel as an outsider...even as a gyopo, which is even more of a regression on Korea's part. 

Unless you leave and cut ties with Korea, you will simply have to find ways to get through it all. 

-hang out with the foreign crowd in the pub.  Make some friends with those folks.

-Go to some baseball games...cheap beer and food combined with fun (yet comedic) baseball is a great way to spend your
  weekends.  In fact, you can go on a tour by going to a different game in a different city, twice a month. 

-Realize that Facebook groups can be, and often are, rather useless.  Don't depend on them.

-Try to meet a lady, or man, depending on which side you are on..or, take part in the half-ass extracurricular activities that go down under shades of pink and red.

-Make sure you have arranged your housing in a way that gives you pleasure, that you always enjoy being in.  If you want a new T.V., get it.  If you want the newest Xbox, get it.  If you want good coffee, get.  These little things really do brighten your day.

-Try to get involved in some sort of sport.  Granted, most kids cannot even fathom throwing a ball but finding a way to be involved in some sort of group activity that is competitive and gets your heart rate going, goes a long way.

-Get to the gym . Ignore all of the try-hards there and just keep to yourself.  Sooner or later, you will see a transformation not only in your body but your state of mind....AND...you always have a decent chance of meeting someone special there. 

-Sign up for an online study course...that passes the time.

-Get some camping equipment, cooler, a BBQ grill and head out to the coast and pick your spot. 

-Don't pay much attention to what Van Islander says...he is so full of himself, he never charges for his own refill.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2020, 07:56:15 pm by NorthStar »


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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2020, 08:23:34 pm »
my DVDs

I'm imagining the 'risquee' type? ;D
incumbo studiis


  • Jpdoescoffee
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2020, 09:46:26 pm »
OP, the truth is, there ARE folks who have enjoyed their time in Korea...BUT...those folks are in the minority and usually fit in quite well with the culture (how that dynamic works, is another discussion).

Koreans just don't want outsiders in their country.  Yet, as a country, it wants to parade around as if it is some model nation, representing what it means to be a highly progressive nation.  I will concede that in some cases, there are advantages to living there.  But you will be made to feel as an outsider...even as a gyopo, which is even more of a regression on Korea's part. 

Unless you leave and cut ties with Korea, you will simply have to find ways to get through it all. 

-hang out with the foreign crowd in the pub.  Make some friends with those folks.

-Go to some baseball games...cheap beer and food combined with fun (yet comedic) baseball is a great way to spend your
  weekends.  In fact, you can go on a tour by going to a different game in a different city, twice a month. 

-Realize that Facebook groups can be, and often are, rather useless.  Don't depend on them.

-Try to meet a lady, or man, depending on which side you are on..or, take part in the half-ass extracurricular activities that go down under shades of pink and red.

-Make sure you have arranged your housing in a way that gives you pleasure, that you always enjoy being in.  If you want a new T.V., get it.  If you want the newest Xbox, get it.  If you want good coffee, get.  These little things really do brighten your day.

-Try to get involved in some sort of sport.  Granted, most kids cannot even fathom throwing a ball but finding a way to be involved in some sort of group activity that is competitive and gets your heart rate going, goes a long way.

-Get to the gym . Ignore all of the try-hards there and just keep to yourself.  Sooner or later, you will see a transformation not only in your body but your state of mind....AND...you always have a decent chance of meeting someone special there. 

-Sign up for an online study course...that passes the time.

-Get some camping equipment, cooler, a BBQ grill and head out to the coast and pick your spot. 

-Don't pay much attention to what Van Islander says...he is so full of himself, he never charges for his own refill.


Thanks for some of these practical tips.
That part about not wanting outsiders, but still pushing out cultural exports and trying to "globalize" really hits hard.
So many friends who came dreamy eyed about Kpop and k-dramas and got their fantasies smashed haha

Seems like the general gist is to just try and live a normal life with enough activities to be able to get over the issues.
Does feel a little like "surviving" rather than addressing the problems, but guess that just shows how difficult it is to change Korean cultural/social mindsets.

Befriending Koreans also often seems like a negative...had most of them just get at you to only practice English or the initial "novelty" of being friends with a foreigner before getting bored of it.
I feel like when people travel to other countries, generally their impression of the experience ends up like "wow, hated this and that but loved the people", but I've never heard of this from any foreigners in Korea lol
« Last Edit: May 19, 2020, 09:50:41 pm by Jpdoescoffee »


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2020, 10:09:08 pm »
I'm imagining the 'risquee' type? ;D
Are you Jim's dad?


  • Cyanea
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2020, 10:29:04 pm »
Im a Korean-American and have been in Korea for 2 years now, with another 3~5 more years in anticipation (for work).

Korean-Americans have quite a different experience here compared to whiteys. Not much use to compare the two.


Yes you will go through the anger and frustration phase. Ultimately you will realize the futility of it. if you stay beyond that, you will emerge the other side older, wiser, and more able to enjoy your life in Korea- and probably wherever you end up.



Catch my drift?


  • NorthStar
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2020, 11:40:32 pm »

Thanks for some of these practical tips.
That part about not wanting outsiders, but still pushing out cultural exports and trying to "globalize" really hits hard.
So many friends who came dreamy eyed about Kpop and k-dramas and got their fantasies smashed haha

Seems like the general gist is to just try and live a normal life with enough activities to be able to get over the issues.
Does feel a little like "surviving" rather than addressing the problems, but guess that just shows how difficult it is to change Korean cultural/social mindsets.

Befriending Koreans also often seems like a negative...had most of them just get at you to only practice English or the initial "novelty" of being friends with a foreigner before getting bored of it.
I feel like when people travel t
 other countries, generally their impression of the experience ends up like "wow, hated this and that but loved the people", but I've never heard of this from any foreigners in Korea lol

Well, OP....you just drop the Korean part form "Korean-American"...and just go with American, not give two shits about what they locals think and go about your merry way, Like a Boss.



Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2020, 12:31:04 am »
I got over most of my issues back home. Dealt with Koreans there. 2nd gens. International students. Cali. NYC. Adoptees. Korean Priders. Bananas. And thats before all the other ethnicities I hung out with. Ferris Bueller type I was.

I had my honeymoon period with Koreans there. I had my burnout phase there. People think I'm a gyopo apologist but I went through all this shit before I even set foot here. Helped a lot. Knew what to expect. No ridiculous expectations or sense of entitlement.

Growing ul around other cultures and immigrants makes you realize everyone has their shit but basically it's all the same crap. Everyones trying to get through the day, make some money, and have some fun. A lot of the shit that can drive you crazy here, you''ll just find somewhere else in some other form.

One big thing is to check the ego. None of us are King Shit and such amazing people that we can spend our time constantly looking down on everyone. If you think what you're dealing with sucks, there's A LOT worse out there believe me. We've all basically hit the lottery being born as we are considering the entire world. If you're really down, find someone who is having a much shittier time of things and help them out. Puts life in perspective.

This shit here, this is cake. Seriously. This place is EASY. Go teach some of them countryside kids whose family is po' and whose parents beat the shit out of them or some Korean orphan kids. Go back home to some methed and opioded dead town or the ghetto or some broke ass immigrant house.

Life will always toss shit your way. Take it like a man or woman.


  • KoreaBoo
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2020, 12:50:31 am »
There has to be a purpose for having Korea to be part of your life.

I spent 20 years in Korea and returned home to a gov't position.  I still maintain my visa status and property in Korea.  Moving to another continent requires planning, moving a boatload of money after you sell your home requires more calculation to avoid being double taxed.

You must understand some key features:

1) Koreans will never see you as one of them.  You will always be an outsider no matter  how well you speak or what you do.  They only see your lineage as important.

2) Koreans are culturally retarded.  Take a look at how they treat each other when off the camera and when on, you can see there is a huge disparity between the 'public' and 'private' actions of the citizenry.   

3) Koreans only want your money.  They will use you and your likeness to benefit financially.  If they are going to lose money, you will be tossed as quickly as a 30 year old hooker into the bin.

They will always find some 'excuse' to pay you less with the standardized 'please understand our unique cultural/financial/business/political situation' lines.

4) Koreans are *extremely* sensitive to external perceptions.  Brand Korea is their most valuable asset.  Anything that risks this brand image will cost them money, and being something they value the most ; they will do anything to keep it as high as possible (see Samsung's stealing of Apple's tech, or the ferry sinking as a good example).   They have spent a fortune and extreme amounts of effort to create a perception and image of a successful country...until you come and live here.  You quickly realize it's all a facade and as fake as Hollywood.

5) There are two sets of rules/laws.  One for Koreans and one for foreigners.  You are the 2nd tier of person in Korea.  Embrace this and become part of the despised and envied minority here.

6) Most 'normal' people come here, see Korea for what it really is and walk away.

7) Some foreigners here come, drink the kool-aid and go full-blown Korea boo or apologist.  They may even try to convince themselves that Koreans will see them as equals (which they never will) and often try to portray themselves as successful by speaking Korean or touting some personal business venture that has let them live day-to-day teaching fruits & animals.

8) Foreigners here posted by companies or gov'ts are immune to most of the issues that others here face.

9) Some foreigners come here, meet someone, get married, make a career, family, friends and future and then move on to bigger and better things.

If you come here, come with a plan.  If your quality of life is significantly improved by some brand of beer or other trivial object that may be purchased, you most likely have a significant number of undisclosed issues that cannot be solved by craft beer.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 01:10:42 am by KoreaBoo »


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2020, 07:52:47 am »
Been here more than 23 years; have seen and experienced all sides of life here.

Travelled ALL over the country and had an amazing time...

Any negativity - and have certainly encountered some - wasn't enough to sour me that much; learnt to roll with it and get on with life.

Love Korean food... and the Craft beer 'revolution' here has raised my satisfaction index considerably.

Have some close Korean friends whom I've known for pretty much my entire time here - they have been nothing but helpful and gracious throughout.

I DO take the opportunity(ies) to undertake foreign sojourns twice a year; I am lucky I have a job that allows this.

Overall, to respond to the OP - no bitterness to get over - I have had a good life here!


This is pretty much me. 

Although for half the sojourn. 

And minus the craft beer. 

Korea is my fourth country that I've lived in, and I've found that when you live for extended times in different countries you realise that the percentage of ace/really good/ okay/Hmmmm/dickheads in all countries are the same.  Korea is no different. 


  • oglop
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Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2020, 07:54:43 am »
true, although it's a different kind of dickhead in every country. i guess you just have to choose which kind of dickhead you don't mind sharing a country with


Re: How to get over bitterness about Korea?...or do you?
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2020, 07:57:12 am »
i guess you just have to choose which kind of dickhead you don't mind sharing a country with

Cool, so when are you leaving again?  I mean, it's been fun Oglop, but Korea only has space for one British dickhead.