Thursday, April 22, 2010

What the ... admission?!?!?

A friend pointed out a Korea Times article to me today. It is titled "Koreans Swayed by Herd Mentality".

Basically the article talks about something most of us already know about Koreans. The group mind, collective mentality, bandwagon effect, or herd mentality if you will. Take your pick they all give you insight to the way Koreans act. It is one of the few countries in the world (maybe 1 of 2?) where you can generalize about behaviour or attitudes and be right.

The article points out how this type of mentality can hurt the economy.

Even the country's top financial regulator warned midway through last year that herd behavior can end up generating asset price bubbles, thus wreaking havoc on the economy.

It isn't just the economy and buying practices that it affects. According to the article it can affect innovation.

Another downside is that the mindset may call for mere conformity while intruding upon innovative thinking as amply demonstrated by partisan regionalism. In other words, herd mentality may choke innovation.

As a foreigner in Korea I know it reaches even further. It affects how Koreans react to situations. Look at the whole craze against foreigners teaching in Korea. Thanks to media hype and KKK's with an axe to grind this is perpetuated on an almost daily basis.

Look at the Mad Cow stupidity. The sheep would read the net, watch PD Diary, and just bleet back the BS they heard whether it was true or not. And in most cases the fear mongering was based on lies.

Look at things like the way they think about seasons. No not the "we have 4 distinct seasons" BS. If it is this season you must dress this way. You ONLY wear short sleeves in summer. As I mentioned in another post Koreans tend to freak out if you wear out of season clothes. It is conformity and if you don't conform the herd will show their disdain.

While it is nice to see that some Koreans are recognizing the herd mentality they need to look deeper. Maybe then they can actually effect some changes for the better.


  1. Haha, that post amused me. I was going to write a post about it, but I wanted to keep the Lousy thing at the top of my page.

    Anyway, I've seen this admission in the past. But remember, just because we think something is a negative quality, doesn't mean they view it that way.

    Koreans are proud of the fact that they all copy each other. Their lack of diversity is held as something - ironically - unique to them.

  2. Too true KRD. But it would be nice if they woke up someday. The sooner the better.

  3. I had never experienced that clothing issue before until my gf mentioned that I shouldn't wear my sunglasses because it wasn't summer yet.

  4. Anon

    Heh. Even sunglasses? Damn. I didn't know it affected accessories. :)

  5. Sometimes I wonder if my lack of conformity led to trouble where I worked. I remember when I was employed at a middle school. I carried on with defying convention. I brought my own plate and utensils (a fork and a knife) to use at lunchtime, rather than the prison-issue metal trays everybody else used.
    I didn't use a roll of toilet paper for tissue when I blew my nose. I had a box of Kleenex on my desk.
    When I washed my hands, I had a towel to dry them. I didn't do what everybody else did, which was shake the water off of my hands while walking away from the sink. And so I didn't contribute to the creation of a puddle that grew dirtier and muddier as the day went on.
    It's things like this that I think tended to set me apart from them. I thought, in a naive kind of way, that I was setting an example and showing them a better way. I still cling to this belief. Someday, somewhere, somebody just MAY see the light.