Intriguing behavior

I have been in Seoul for more than 2 years working in a research lab. Many things about the place and the people were intriguing to me, an Indian.
I will start by the most recent and will add as and when i remember things from the past.
1.    I suddenly notice that my desk drawer, which is an independent unit (with wheels) is missing. It contained all my research samples. I had even stuck a label with my name on the drawer. I look around and notice that its with the table given to a new student. I search for my samples and they are missing. Another frantic search and i find the samples in a drawer thats lying in a corner. Apparently, no one was using that one!

Though i describe here an incident it is a fairly general behavior among Koreans in this research lab.  If you are a foreigner you will rarely be informed of anything.  Unless you speak korean, eat their food, drink soju and party with them you will remain in oblivion.

2. I hosted dinner for all the scientists and students in my lab.  Twice. They all came for the dinner. However, they spoke only among themselves; mostly with the group head.

3. A foriegn colleague had finished his term. A send-off party was arranged in the group head’s office! Pizza was ordered. They had the pizza and spoke among themselves; mostlly with the group head. No one spoke with the guy for whom the send off was arranged.

4. Research work done by one guy but the research article carries more names than one. While this may be the case in many labs around the world; its done without inhibition here.

5. One day i discovered that my labmates were preparing to leave. When asked i was told they were all attending a conference in Japan. The conference was on a topic that i am working on. My work ofcourse, was used by my host but without my knowledge!


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2 Responses to “Intriguing behavior”

  1. Janet Sunderland Says:

    Thanks for coming by to visit my post! Your post is pretty interesting, too. My daughter-in-law is from Korea, so I understand some of what you’re experiencing. Even after 25 years living here in the US, my daughter-in-law speaks very limited English. She simply didn’t want to learn. Even after she had a child. There’s a quality of isolation, it seems, for Koreans. And it probably goes back a long time. The country has been overrun several times and now it’s independent in a way that’s almost isolates. That will probably change eventually, but I can see the isolation in the

    • dinanath Says:

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that it could have something to do with the county being overrun several times.
      I wrote this post in 2009. Reading it again now has brought back those memories. However, i feel bad that i actually wrote it down for the world to see. I must have been in a bad mood. It is two years now that i am back in India and busy with other things. I only hope that i have also written somewhere about the good things in Korea.

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