Korean folks : devote themselves slavishly to their families but will spend 12 or 14 hours a dayat work. Somehow reconcile grand operatic displays of emotional intensity with a finely-honed sense of social etiquette. Are xenophobic, but extremely hospitable. Appear incompetent but achieve incredible successes. Are Confucian, but have disarming instinct for participating in ad-hoc relationships. Are collectivist but are arguably the most individualistic of North-East Asian societies. Are puritanical in public, but earthily sexual in private. Are, when older, serious, self-important and rigid in their public faces, but are free as schoolchildren when drinking with their contemporaries. Relentlessly pursue title and status and wealth, but regard them when achieved as guides for behaviour rather than measures of intrinsic worth. Can be deliberately ignorant of the squalor of their surroundings while acutely conscious of the fine gradations of their relationships with the people around them. Are deeply sentimental but vigorously pragmatic. Believe in the indwelling spirit of all things and put aside that belief when it’s inconvenient. Care deeply for people, but only people that are part of their circle. Believe in romantic love, when it’s convenient. Are sloppily sentimental, but ruthless in business.
Oh, they are fascinating to me. Walking contradictions. And never boring, which, for me, is key. I love these people. That’s why I’m here, again, much as I complain.