Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chapter 7: Credit is Life, Pages 192-194 ("'I'll sue you' is the most commonly heard statement in America")

I love how Rhie seems to feel that the law is some kind of last resort when heart and common courtesy fail. More on 'heart'. The original Korean word is jung (rhymes with 'sung') and it is a word that Koreans claim is untranslatable and intrinsically Korean. I think the reasons Koreans claim that it is untranslatable are twofold: one, the best English translation would probably be 'warmth', and only in a specific context that I think most of the Koreans who talk about jung are not proficient in English enough to really understand, and also it feeds into this idea of Korea's uniqueness to say that normal everyday interactions between Koreans have some sort of added emotional dimension that other people can't even conceive of, let alone match. Mind you, now, this 'Koreans own warmth' concept is bandied about by a small minority of Koreans, usually for nationalistic purposes. I have had many personal encounters with jung. a Korean tour guide in Japan told the busload of tourists I was with that one shouldn't trust the Japanese because they lacked jung (said while shaking his two fists, wrists up, to demonstrate the gravity of this ancient and intrinsically Korean concept). Here again Rhie is making the same claim at length, that the problem with America, indeed the need for out litigious society all springs from lack of jung between the races. The false premise of all this is that there is a certain baseline jung between members of an ethnic group. Perhaps so in a country as thoroughly leveled and de'class'ified as Korea is now, but I wonder what th actual level of jung would have been between a Korean yangban (nobleman) and a servant in the 19th century. Certainly the same people, by Korean standards, but how much intrinsically Korean jung would there be?
Anyway, I find it interesting that he ascribes this dependency on credit and law to America in particular and suggests it is due to the lack of jung and general mixed up multicultural atmosphere.

Even though all Americans share the pride of calling themselves American and a love of their country, this doesn't form sympathy between the races and peoples. They put up their protective wall to protect themselves and thoroughly demarcate their territory from others' territory. That's why in America they have no choice but to solve everything with the law. They often even solve trivial issues with the law.
One example was in the U.S. branch of a Japanese company.
(Graphic shows a Japanese man and a Black woman)
Man: Hello Ms. A.
Woman: Director Kimura.

Incidentally isn't Kimura the zainichi Korean version of Kim?

Man (patting woman on the shoulder): Isn't working tough? Keep up the good work!
Woman: !
Man: Yeah, how's your husband? From the look on your face I'd
say things are going pretty good.
Woman: !
This Japanese executive never forgot to give a "warm" [not jung, literally 'warm', and quotes are his, not mine] greeting to his many female subordinates in the name of "encouragement". Graphic shows Kimura patting a shocked woman on the back) But some time later these female employees filed a class action lawsuit against him and the company received a demand for an astronomical amount for reparation for damages. Man: sexual molestation, defamation of character, interfering in personal life? $100,000 compensation per person times 100 people, so Ihave to give $10 million? I was just encouraging my workers with a warm heart and this is the response?

(Graphic shows Kimura and an American man)
Kimura: In Japan we encourage our female workers by patting them on the shoulder.
Man: That's a cultural difference. Laying your hands on another person, especially a person of the opposite sex, falls under sexual harassment and sexual molestation.
Kimura: What about the defamation of character?
Man: You know over half of American couples get divorced. Asking a woman how her husband is is interfering in her personal life.
(Graphic shows a woman looking at Kimura and thinking "He's raking up painfu things from the past. What's this, is he trying to make me angry?")
Man: Whether or not it's intential, bringing up someone's divorce as a topic of discussion falls under defamation of character. When did she tell you to care about her married life? Did they say to touch them without permission?
This is a famous case that happened at Mitsubishi in 1995. In America the most commonly heard statement is "I'll sue you." America has the highest number of lawyers per capita. American society's standard of judgment is not codes of conduct or ethical feelings, rather it is law that is equally effective for all races and people. In America the most important principle is that you must live by the rule of law.
They say the principle of American society where everyone lives behind a protective wall is fundamental premise of mistrust. But to live we must maintain economic relationships and exchanges. But who can trust who in this society where people of many races, many peoples, and every type swarm together? The only thing people can trust is law, and systematically confirmed credit!
Credit-- the measure of ability to believe someone. This is not trust, the belief in one's heart for another person. This is one's "score", one's amount of trustability as confirmed by the government or a specific organization.
In America they even call your school grades "credit".
(Graphic shows a report card. Caption says :Math 'credit' A = A level grade = his math ability is confirmed to be in the A level.")
Credit cards that you get at the bank are also called "credit cards". To speak of someone's credit rating and credit, in America credit is the secind most important thing after one's life.

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