Thursday, March 26, 2009

Expat Schadenfreude

I'm not the biggest fan of the sometimes abrasive Netizen Kim, but I think he hit the nail on the head with this comment:
On the scale of obnoxious douchebaggery, I submit that Expat Schaudefreude exceeds Korean Nationalism by a fair margin. Expat Schaudefreude is definitely a loser’s mentality.
Quite an insightful comment that could only have been made cooler if he'd bothered to look up the spelling of schadenfreude (which, for those of you in Rio Linda, is pleasure derived by someone else's misfortune).

I have long been asserting something along similar lines, that much of the Korea bashing — I mean the propensity, in knee-jerk fashion, to knock the country as a whole or to immediately assume the worst about the country or its people — is a collective response to a number of individuals steaming about their boss, a taxi driver, their wife, their girlfriend, their ex, their in-laws, or some girl they wanted to bang but couldn't. Such attitudes or behavior easily become all-consuming, especially when it's "validated" by like-minded individuals.

Complaining about certain things in Korea, and especially constructive criticism, is not the same as bashing, which is much more mindless and automatic in its response. Marmot, for example, has loads of criticism about Korea, but it's very balanced. "Complaints" of alleged "angriest blogger in Korea" Brian in Chŏllanam-do come across as too well-reasoned to be bashing.

Anyway, Wangkon, chimed in with a good corollary to this, often found in the comments section of blogs like Marmot's Hole:
You know what’s an even worse mentality? Loving one country (Japan) just because you hate the other (Korea).
To be fair, this is not just about being annoyed that people are bashing Seoul or Korea; I would feel, no, I do feel the same way when I hear people whine incessantly about Japan, Hawaii, California, or other places. Really, at some point, some of these people should realize that maybe it's them, or at least their attitude, that is leading them to where they are.

[right: A support group for whiny expats meets here every Friday and Saturday.]

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