Southern style Korean culture

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2003

Getting to know your neighbors is an essential part of building good relationships.

Especially when those neighbors are responsible for helping put your city on the map and grow by leaps and bounds.

Greenville area business owners and residents attended a Korean seminar on Wednesday at the Greenville Y.M.C.A. to learn about their new neighbors’ history, customs and traditions.

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&uot;The meeting was intended to help the people at the clinic, the hospital and the policemen and firemen to know what the Koreans’ customs are, what our customs are, how things may differ and what we can do to help them understand our culture,&uot; Greenville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Lee said. &uot;So people will know what to expect. It was just something that we needed to be prepared for and our schools need to be prepared for. Education is very, very important to them.&uot;

Eight Korean families have moved to Greenville since the announcement that two Tier One Hyundai suppliers would set up shop in the Camellia City. Lee said there is a possibility of eight to 10 more Korean families moving to the city.

HWASHIN America Corporation, which will produce chassis and chassis parts for Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Sonata models, announced it was coming to Greenville in March and Hysco America Corporation, a subsidiary of Hyundai Hysco, the world’s premier steel and pipe manufacturer made its announcement in May.

Prattville Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Assistant Young Gray was guest speaker at the seminar. She went over different customs and traditions practiced in Korea and explained to the 60 people on hand how they can help make their new neighbors feel more at home.

Below is a list of some pointers Young gave businesspeople during the meeting to help them when doing business with Koreans:

n Don’t ask Koreans to sign their name with a red pen. Red symbolizes communism and death in Korea.

n The numeral four is viewed as bad luck, much like Americans view the numeral 13.

n If appointments are made with Koreans promptness is key. Koreans are very punctual.

n When dealing with Koreans that don’t understand you, write what you need down on paper.

n Koreans are used to using credit cards and are not accustomed to writing checks. Businesses without credit card machines are encouraged to install them.

n Koreans are also not accustomed to having to make doctors appointments, much less be sent to seek further medical attention from specialist. In Korea, pharmacists prescribe and mix up medicine according to the symptoms of their patients.

n Korean students were also allowed to carry cell phones to schools. School administrators were encouraged to inform Korean students of the policies in the U.S. if they are caught with phones.

n Police officers were also encouraged to work with Koreans that violate traffic rules and help teach them the rules of the road.

n Landlords were also encouraged to not get frustrated and to work with Koreans when problems occur on their rental property such as leaks and appliance failures.

n Koreans also take their education seriously. Mothers tutor the children everyday after school in order for their children to excel.

n Koreans don’t mind receiving thank you gifts from businesses, but prefer not to have gifts that cost over $50.

n Koreans are also very thankful and generous to people who help them. They have been known to cook or send gifts to people and businesses that assist them.

Young also shared with the audience some history of Korea such as common last names, Korean retirement plans and what holidays they celebrate and when.

Lee, who has worked hand-in-hand with the families, said that it has been a learning process for the new residents to get used to customs practiced in the United States.

&uot;Most of them have learned and are familiar with different things that we do,&uot; Lee said. &uot;So I don’t think it will be a very long process. They’re real eager to learn the way we do things and the right way we do things.&uot;

Melvin Stone, Vice President and Branch Manager of the Whitney Bank Gateway Plaza Branch, said that the seminar was real helpful and he was glad to learn of some of the dos and don’ts of the Koreans’ customs.

&uot;I thought it was real interesting and informative,&uot; Stone said. &uot;I thought she (Gray) presented it real well. It had some good points to pick up on that we were not aware of.&uot;

For more information about your newest neighbors or if you have any questions contact Lee at 382-3251.