In a recent Korean e-mail I received, was a list of 4 shortcomings that a journalist leaving Korea after 11 years made known to his questioner. He only had the intention of giving the strong points of the Koreans; being urged repeatedly to give the weak points also he acceded very hesitantly. Below is the four that he mentioned:
1) Koreans do do not look forward to the future but rather look back at the past. They do not talk about future plans and dreams but rather talk about the life in the military, past political incidents, fellow classmates etc..
2) They use many excuses. When things do not go well, they do not admit it frankly but blame those above or below, use excuses or hold responsible the circumstances.
3) In personal relationships Koreans do not know how to lose. Compromise and concessions are seen as failure and they have a black and while rational for everything.
4) Koreans have a princely mentality wanting to harvest what they have not planted. As the saying goes they will even drink lye if it is free..
The e- mail ends with the words of the questioner: since the journalist had a love for Korea we should take his words to heart.
Also being a foreigner I would agree with the first one after thinking over what he said, but have difficulty in seeing the other three as any different from what humans have as a basic weakness. I do not see Koreans any more disposed than other peoples to excuse their failures, have difficulty in losing or like to have things for nothing. I probably have been in Korea too long and have been inculturated to a point where these human failings are not seen as such : something that came with the air I breath and the water I drink (?)