Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Korea (CultureShock series) by Sonja Vegdahl and Ben Seunghwa Hur

Review of Korea (CultureShock series) by Sonja Vegdahl and Ben Seunghwa Hur

This a bit of a strange book to review, being a guide to living in Korea – especially as I’m not there yet. There are a few things I can say about it, though.

First and foremost of which is that it is, without doubt, the worst proofread book I’ve ever read (and I apologise if that sounds clunky – there’s no one editing this, after all). The typos are of the type that other, more hyperbolically-minded folks might call ‘howlers’ – and there are lots of them. I don’t blame the authors, by the way – it’s surely the job of the publisher to iron these creases out.

In terms of content, the book seems to cover most of what you’d need to know, employment, financial stuff, socialising etc. It has a very cursory section on language, but if you’re that bothered about it you’d get a phrasebook. It has various tips on how to deal with Koreans and Korean culture, such as taking your shoes off in people’s homes (one of the authors says that no matter how many times she told them it didn’t matter, the removal men delivering her furniture took their shoes off every time they entered her house), ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘yes’ (in the context of asking someone to do something it means something like ‘I’ll see what I can do’), in making conversation Koreans will often ask you why you aren’t married (assuming you aren’t, of course) – a question it’s acceptable to pretty much ignore, contracts are thought of more as guidelines.

It was an interesting book, but its typos detracted, not so much from its readability, but from its credibility. The other criticism I might level at it is that it seems slightly oriented towards western business people living in Korea with all its talk of maids and drivers and the proper etiquette for dinner parties and suchlike. How much actual use it’ll be remains to be seen.

Categories: Literature, Reviews
  1. Drew
    7 September 2006 at 3:37 pm

    Any news as to when you’ll be heading out? Have you had any job interest?

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