What I love about Korean work culture

What could one possibly think when it comes to Korean work culture? Spontaneous staff mingling events?! 

For me, is getting to know Korean culture and people more better. 

It has been almost four years since I’ve worked in Private sector, a year for English Institutions or somewhat international environment.

Being in an international environment was comfortable. Luckily I knew how it worked as well as carrying on with my performance. However I had an epiphany that I don’t really know Korean culture yet being a Korean passport holder myself. 

Being surrounded by Korean work culture? It definitely has downside of it along with frustration. However, I love the fact that I am in it. Nevertheless I try, I stick out like a nail out of blue. But I have learned so much and am still learning so much. 

Plus, I became super positive. Unplanned staff mingling events? You get to go to places and restaurants, why not!:) 

And I have learned so much about me. If I hadn’t taken this path, I would never have had this moment. 


My genuine self of being TCK

Have you ever wondered who or what you’d answer to a question “Who is the genuine you and when are you completely comfortable?” 

Being TCK is always complex, and it’s easily formidable to just disregard genuine yourself. 
I was also comfortable with the terminology “TCK”. But you get to recognize not every TCK is the same. So one day, my mentor asked me who I really am and when I feel completely comfortable.

The following picture will explain it perfectly. (Thanks to my recent travel, I’ve had many ponderings and epiphanies) 

My genuine self 

 This is genuine “me”. Being anticipating about the near future, trying to understand my surroundings and people. (including reading between the lines)

I feel lonely that i don’t have lots of people to talk about my thoughts and emotions with ( not that it matters. I would just like to express it to someome else). Yet I am fascinated at what will happen next cuz I have no idea. 

My comfort zone 

It all connects to the leaves. I just know that It’s all going to be okay just like how you can see the sunlight through the leaves .:) 

My New “comfort zone”

I’ve been trying to understand and mind control myself with Zen and Philosophy when it comes to Eastern culture. I know it’s very well that it’s all a certain point in the past. Future beholds:) It is peaceful above the clouds afterall. 

As always, everything start, end, and reconnected with airport. I am truly glad I can start a somewhat different chapter. 

-Hong Kong Airport 

Airport, the closure and entry of a new chapter

I recently got a chance to visit Gimhae Airport in Busan. Just being there reminded me of the day coming back to Korea for good. 

Airport has always been the start and end of a chapter of my life. Being there just clarifies the complexity of life and two different cultures. Waiting hours gave to time to sort things out and focus on what is going to happen soon. However, it was for when I am heading somewhere. 

When it is coming back for good, you never know when one will be at airport. It has been an open wound for me for ages. It was a symbol of big changes I had to adapt to unwilling fully. Thankfully, I could finally overcome it by departing from Gimhae Airport. 

It took some time for me to let it go. But as I gradually started seeing how beautiful Korea’s night view, I thought I wasn’t fair to my passport country. I disregarded the charm of Korea being clouded with my own emotions. 

I know I will never be able to take it back. I lost so many opportunities to learn and mingle with the locals. I always had an invisible wall that secured my comfort zone. I made sure I don’t speak a single thing about Gimhae airport. (It almost felt like saying the name in Harry Potter) At least I let it go. Now, I can release the airport from my memories of ” pain/ greive” group. Afterall it’s just an airport. 

I’ve got to recognize how Airport has always been the start and end of a chapter. I am excited I had closure to “Returing back to Korea” Chapter. Now, I am excited to start a new chapter of present me striving for realizing my dreams! 

Feeling lonesome 

Have you ever felt depressed?

One day, my friend asked me if I ever felt depressed. (I am usually seen as a happy and positive person) 

This question struck me really hard because I am right in the middle of it. I am dealing with TCK issues which is all tangled and can’t really point out one by one.

The only Business kid (amongst criteria of TCK) on the block

Being the only Business kid in my company and enduring two years has made me more accustomed to situations and cultures that were not understandable to me. 

Yet, there are so much to be familiar. I have one boss who is a cosmopolitan and am a parent of TCK. It was a huge comfort for me when he cheered me up with affirming words. Having someone saying “It’s going to be okay” makes it way better. However, I still feel lonely cuz he is like superior boss. 

The reasons of feeling depressed

There is a long list. I thought I handled them, but no. It comes back in a different form. Once someone told me “it will be there like a burn. You are just getting accustomed to it.” Well… I am realizing it. I am trying to learn how to adapt it well with positive and constructive way. 

Continuous coping process, unresolved greive, language and culture differences, double-standard, inner conflict due to different culture customs, and not being able to move autonomously. And most of all, some people acting bossy (Kkondae) when it comes to my lifestyle such as travel and language. 

What I think and what I believe in is deeply rooted to what I’ve obtained during my childhood. More and more I live in Korea, I feel like I don’t really fit anywhere nor need to fit in. I feel so lonely. 

How do you deal with lonesome? 

TCK Issue: feeling sad to go back to my passport culture

Hi from Japan! I am here as an annual leave holiday. Honestly, it was more of an escape trip. I was feeling so suffocated at the rigid and mono culture. 

Restlessness and Rootlessness, and annual travel

As a TCK, restlessness and rootlessness has been my strong and weak suit. If I am not moving between the country’s, I would be moving my literal home or work. 

So I chose Japan for my escape trip destination. It was close, I can understand 40% of what they are saying, and I love Japanese country. Her culture is truly spectacular and makes me wonder how its changing as time goes. This year, I was lucky to observe Matsuri preview program and Memorial day cermemony. 

Reminder of my comfort zone

Since I am traveling now, it reminded me of how I have been so far. I was constantly looling for restlessness and trying to feel in my daily life. Now, here I am not wanting to go back to my routine from the non-Japanese life in Osaka, Japan.

I had a great time. Reminder of checking in, not understanding fully, being not familiar to the culture, and relying on to English and Hiragana. It all reminds me of my childhood. 

Traveling with my sisters, and another TCK issue emerges

I have 2 younger sisters who are TCK and non-TCK. My youngest sister was too young, yet she has got influenced by my family member. My parents were Korean-expats and my sister (not the youngest) is TCK too. 

For my youngest sister, it is her first time traveling outside of Korea. However, she has been diligent on informing us what is happening in Korea and the cat everyday.  

After few days, I abruptly told her I prefer leaving behind Korea me only for few days. I wanted to chill out and simply enjoy the day, but she somehow constantly reminded me of the fact I have to go back and she wants some present for some people in Korea. 

Here I am, pondering what i should do. My files and datas on my understanding of culture and customs collided. I ended up being me. I decided I will not think about Korea and enjoy the day. 

I know why my sister is telling us about Korea. It’s from a good heart. She knows what’s going on. And I know I just want to chill out and enjoy my comfort zone. 

Not wanting to go back
And today is my last day in Japan. I hate to go back to Korea. I will have to go back to “me whom everyone expects me to be”. And act like nothing has happened. 

I am aware of the fact that Japan is not my home. But I just am not ready to go back yet. 

What type of TCK are you?

Before starting

Originally I was aiming to make this blog about “looking at Korea from TCK’s view”theme. However, It ended up to be about myself. Sorry if you were expecting to read more about Korea. But somehow I feel like this post will help me to move on the the original goal of mine for this blog.

What type of TCK am I? 

There are so many types of TCKs who likes to know the identity of mine. For me, I am a Business Kid. My family moved to Poland with my Dad.

 Personally I had a lovely time. It literally made who I am today. However, I’ve learned it could have been very different for my parents. 

It totally changed all of us. Our mindset became somewhat different, and what we experience were no longer relatable to the ones we know in Korea. My close friends in Korea and I merely had anything in common. They were moving on to the present that I couldn’t understand or empathize. And the influence of IMF was tremendous. I still can’t find the right word to say when it comes to that topic. For them, it was the most gloomiest years. On the contrary, I was so happy by then. 

For that reason, I don’t like sharing the experiences and influences it has curved who I am today to the others. Maybe that is why I prefer light relationship with the others, while pondering about my identity. 

I hope I could find out about my identity fully so that I can finally move on and find the resolution for my greive and focus on my future.

How has it influence me? 

My upbringing has influenced me to be who I am today. I love lessening the gap between people. So I chose a study and career which I can contribute to the evolution of humanitarian and human rights. If I had a power to go back, I would not change a thing. It’s just that it’s a constant challenge to stay at one country and a city. 

What type of TCK are you? 
I recently introduced terminology “TCK” to my acquaintance. I knew TCKs do have common sense but am very different in various ways. What type of TCK are you? And do you question your identity too? 
ps) I am going to Japan for trip next month. I am so thrilled to be finally at the comfort zone. Next post will be about Japan.:) Finally getting back to the right track! 

Minesweeper-like of TCKness

Long time no blogging! I have been focused on harmonizing myself to the Korean culture. And the process was stressing out me a lot. For instance, one of my coworker who likes to distinguish people by triats would point out how different I am with the Korean born and upbringings time by time. It lead me to bit of frustration, but I am over it now. Cuz… I learned the real reason why she is saying it! Anyways, here we go! 

Learning how to live in Harmony

TCK’s strong points are definitely adjusting to the foreign culture. However, I still find it difficult for my own passport country.

 I learned in a hard way that I had to stay in Korea, and while I was in denial and greive, I just let the time pass by. Later on, I got to realize that it’s going nowhere and have to move on. And that was when I started having interest in Korean culture again. 

Korea is a fascinating country. It is constantly changing as well as people too. Hongdae has become meka for youth again, and Korea’s tradition has found its own way of mingling in to the current culture. This country is one of the country where it finds its harmony, considering the strictness of common sense and rituals are becoming more thinner as the youth are boosting up. 

For me, I have been focusing on how to harmonize myself with the Korean-Koreans. I found it ridiculous that I find it difficult to follow my passport countries’ culture and customs. (It would be the only country I can’t really understand. )

However I surpress and react in Korean way, my TCKness would pop up and give an impression that I am TCK after all. It’s totally like Minesweeper. 

And why do I focus on following Korean culture? I realized that I need to be like Korean to promote or be somewhere else. Korean company wants people who is international but also has Korean mindset. And I also heard a horrible storys of some TCKs not getting promoted due to their Korean skills and people skills. 

I do have to say it brings out my greive and frustration that I can’t really fit into the culture, but I am going to go for it. It is time (very late) to know about the people and culture of my passport country after all. 

TCK issues. I am bored in Korea 

If someone asks me who and what kind of person I am, the perfect answer would be “I am TCK (third culture kids)”. I don’t necessarily like the word ‘culture’ as it is coined by human and embeded the concept of social norm. But this terminology has perfectly explained who and what kind of person I am. 

*If you are not familiar with the terminology or the characteristics, please read this article.

To give a brief introduction about myself, I am a TCK with Korean, Polish, American, Malawian background. Being in those countries regardless of how long I’ve been there, it has made who I am today. 

I hold a Korean passport and I am living in Korea. I kind of settled in Korea and thought I could make something out of it by pursuing my dreams. However, it seems difficult due to my nature of characteristics of TCK. 

 According to the article from ‘The Telegraph’, the followings are the biggest struggles/characteristics of TCK. It’s mainly focused on the expats, but it does apply tremendously. 

1. answering the question “where are you from?”

 -> The concept of ” home ” is a question itself

2. explaining your “international” accent

3. mixing up your languages

4. planning holidays 

-> there are so many countries when choosing which country to visit for the holidays

5. Long-distance friends and relationships

-> they are literally all over the place 

6. Dealing with ridiculous questions

-> for me it was “Does Poland use English?” 

7. Constant need to travel

8. Passport and immigration 

9. Explaining your lifestyle

-> It maybe different with others 

10. Different currencies and cost of living 

-> it applys for the expats 

For me, from tiny things such as respecting others culture and being open to somewhat different has made who I am today. But it sometimes can cause a problem.
I thought everything was fine until the previous and current workplace in Korea. I was lucky to have met a wonderful bosses and colleagues who were understandable to someone from multicultural background. But my previous and current workplace seems to be wanting to default the culture to Korean culture only. It’s not like I dislike the culture. I dislike the amazingly perplexed hierarchy and respecting culture. (other countries might be the same too ) 

Whenever I tried to learn it, there was a glass wall called ” mindset.” I have heard that I have a tendency to be straight forward and cannot read between the lines when it comes to Korean and its culture. 

My Korean isn’t that perfect. I am still learning the TPO phrases and behaviors and it never seems to end. But amongst all, the biggest issues are learning cultural norm of language skills and behaviors, seeking for a challenge. For the language, I should’ve learned along with understanding the culture.:/ 

Now, I’ve came to a point where I am bored and doesn’t feel any kind of challenge other than leaving the office ASAP. Looking for a challenge and something interesting is a challenge itself now.

Being a TCK is great sometimes. I wouldn’t change anything except persuading myself working in Korea. Double standards and expectations that I can’t really fulfill is bringing struggles. 

At first, I thought it’s a problem of myself by not being able to stand still at boring times. But now, I think being a TCK could have an influence.

Lost in the “World” 

Where are you from? And which culture are you influenced by? 

Honestly, I can’t answer to neither of them. I wish I could, but I learned that I should rather move on from that question. It’s alike a maze of depression. 
To give a brief introduction about myself, I am a TCK (third culture kid) who is still trying to figure out my identity. I am originally from Korea. However I grew up in Europe during my childhood. I loved how open and respectful everyone was towards the new ideas and cultures. (I don’t like the word culture due to its limitation of defining the real culture and origin, I will just use it)

What I have learned about myself is that I have never thought my upbringing would be considered as a “privileged” or “special” upbringing. I later on learned that I took it for granted and didn’t recognize there would be others who are from monoculture and that I have no idea how to deal with the culture of my passport country. 

My world is closer to westen oriented mindset and I have a mixed form of culture. And the World I know is a place where you once lived or visited for holidays, or a place where your friend lives at. But one thing I’ve learned so distinctively is that I have no idea about Korean culture. I still face challenges when it comes to expressing and reading between the lines. Would it be better if I have learned Korean more dilligently? Knowing the language does not mean that you know the culture.. So I am not sure. 

Just out of curiosity, what is “World” to you?