“Should you desire money, social status, and the power, have the right blood tie, alumni network, and regional connection.”
This should be written in the Constitution of Korea.
(If you’re asking yourself “Is this North or South?,” you’re the one who needs to follow my blog more than anyone.)
Sure, it might be a common social phenomenon in any capitalism countries.
But I can almost guarantee you that it wouldn’t be as bad as it is in Korea. What I mean by bad is that, in other words, if you don’t have those 3 ties, the chances are you would highly unlikely… (it’s too harsh for me to finish this sentence because I think I fit in the “ellipsis.”)
Studies say that this social custom that values those 3 ties, seems to be originated and passed down from Joseon dynasty (14C) when Confucian idea was dominant. They thought highly of knowledge and family, which in a large form, could be school, mentor, relatives, neighbors you associate daily, and so on.
I’m not a historian and I don’t want to scrape out my historical knowledge from high school. It gives me enough headache to think about my own current issue which is affected by this 14th century convention.
It’s horrendous that people of 21st century still can’t break the idea from 7 centuries ago.
It’s similar in the U.S, too. You can submit thousands of resumes with all the nice stuff on it but one connection in a company can get you a job even if you lack a little bit of requirements for a position.
In fact, that’s how I got jobs in the past: friend, ex-coworker, classmate, etc.
The difference in the U.S is that, the connection doesn’t guarantee you a job. It’s a fast track to get your resume read or go into an interview. In Korea, if you are a CEO or HR person from a certain school, and you see a resume from your alma mater, you put it in a “interview” folder. When you see an applicant from the same area you grew up with, you call that person in for an interview. The difference is a “reference.” HR person doesn’t know a thing about an applicant but will hire the person because he/she’s from your hometown, because you’ve heard the person is a niece of a coworker who is about to get a huge promotion, because an applicant graduated from your high school or college or sometimes even an elementary school!
I might be exaggerating a little bit. But I’d heard this story from my dad a couple of times every year before I moved to the U.S.
My dad used to emphasize the importance of being accepted to certain schools (Ivy League schools in Korea) to my younger brother over and over. (I had already chosen a path against his will. Haha) Because my dad himself proudly graduated from one of 3 Ivy schools and would hire his research assistant only from one of those schools. He said in the field of knowledge and intelligence is all that matters, it’s unavoidable. As much as I understood, I couldn’t help myself feeling very bitter as a gypsy, have-no-real-job musician at that time.
If you went to a school with Korean people, you must have witnessed that they only hung out with Koreans and would be wary to have a non-Korean person in their circle. (I hated, almost despised this idea which in result left me only few Korean friends from school whom I hardly talk to.) This’s also because of the distorted Confucian idea. In a way, it’s similar to fraternities and sororities or guilds from the medieval Europe. It’s a guaranteed trust and support for people who fit in the group.
If you look at it positively, it can be good. Korea is all about hospitality and brotherhood anyway. But what if you don’t have those ties but still an awesome smarty pants who’s a super hard worker? That’s the downside of the invisible, untold “ties system.”
Why am I venting out on this now? No, I’m not really venting out. I’m just jotting down my thoughts.
Unlike what I said above, I’m not really under the force of “the 3 ties” because I’m not in a Korean job market.
So I should be relieved instead of criticizing Korean ties culture. But having a connection can’t hurt no matter in what country you’re looking for a job, especially if you want a new career, like what I’m doing now.
As I considered changing my career, I’ve been pondering on my strength, ability, talent, and most importantly passion.
I’ve submitted a resume for several companies for all different positions in different career fields because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do but was confident that I could do anything.
About 3 weeks passed, I haven’t got a call.
So, I was pessimistically nagging on a phone to my husband the other day.
“I’m never gonna get hired!!!”
My calm, mature husband lightly laughed and said
“Aw, you’re cute. You should write this on your blog. ‘I’m never gonna get hired!'”