Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Muninn on “Foreigner Shock Meltdown” in parts of East Asia

Posted by thuicc on November 22, 2007

(Hmmm… long title…) Muninn has a great post discussing what happens in places like Japan and Korea when a stranger (someone clearly not native to that country) comes on the scene: “a paralyzing shock [is] exhibited by natives of the country when faced with a non-Asian, especially ones who show some proficiency in the language.” He describes three kinds of reactions to the foreigner:

1) Faced with a Caucasian (or, I assume, any other not-Asian-looking individual), the Korean or Japanese person in question will have complete a meltdown, and do their utmost to complete the entire transaction (at the post office, store, restaurant, etc.) without making any eye contact or speaking a single word. In extreme cases they can completely crap-out and request help from the manager or other co-worker before even beginning the transaction or confirming that their customers does not, indeed, speak Korean/Japanese.
2) If the NALI (not Asian looking individual) is in the company of anyone who looks even remotely Asian, they will completely ignore the existence of the NALI and speak/recognize only the Asian looking person. This will continue even if a) the NALI continues to respond to questions and speak passably well in the native language of the Japanese/Korean person in question and/or b) if the Asian looking person in question in fact does not at all know how to speak Japanese/Korean.
3) Faced with a NALI, the Korean or Japanese person in question will panic and try to communicate in a non-grammatical mix of their native language, really bad English, and hand signals. This can happen even if you speak passably well in the native language of the person and have not yet shown any inability to understand their regular Korean/Japanese.

It’s an interesting read–check it out!

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