Saturday, 17 November 2012

(Day 120) Seoul Nambu Correctional Facility-day 25 D-131

sit-ups push-ups chair-lifts
50 x 8 50 x 0 40 x 2
Breakfast, lunch & dinner = November 3

I always think things will be different this time around they're not. It’s still the same. I'm talking about the coffee of course. I don't give a shit about the coffee. I care about what it represents.

I said I would draw one picture for two boxes. That turned into two pictures for three boxes, some shampoo and a few apples. I got the one box, apples and shampoo while I was still drawing the two pictures. As soon as I was finished my end of the bargain, the remaining two boxes became a promise of one box yesterday, which turned into 0 boxes today.

Every single time I do business with a Korean, this is what happens. When he received the second picture, he actually complained because the picture I drew didn't look exactly like a photograph. Of course it doesn't look like exactly like the photograph-- I'm not a fucking camera! I'm a person who drew a representation of a photograph. By hand. With a pencil. So after he complained, as Koreans always do at the end of a job, he tried to get a discount. 2 boxes turned into one box and after he received his product, he didn't pay me at all.

This has happened every single time I've worked with the Koreans, except once. If it only happened once or twice, I would attribute it to the individual, but it always happens with all Koreans. Unfortunately, getting screwed by Koreans seems to be the rule rather than the exception and as a result, when it comes to business, I'm a racist. Don't do business with Koreans.

Contracts are a guide to them, not a legally binding document. They will not honour it if it is to their disadvantage. Even if you agree to terms and payment beforehand and get it in writing, they will always find fault with something and try to get a discount. If they finally accept the job and take possession, getting final payment is like getting blood from a stone. It’s generally a good rule of thumb to get complete payments before delivery no matter whom you're doing business with, but then credit wouldn't exist. With Koreans, always get complete payment first because you'll never get it later.

There are exceptions, of course. Not every Korean is a total slyster. I would tend to limit these rules only when I'm actually in Korea. For one thing, there are very few laws protecting foreign investment and laws to protect foreigners are practically non-existent.

Don't believe me? Go to Hwaseong Immigration Detention Center and pick any foreigner at random. Ask them why they’re there. There's a 90% chance or higher that the employer didn't renew a visa or even get them one, and then refused to pay them for at least 3 months.

My success stories are limited only to Koreans born and bred outside of Korea, such as Korean-Americans or Koreans that spends most of their time outside of Korea doing business. For example, I use to edit comic books for a Korean publisher. All of his business was in Southeast Asia. He spoke at least four languages. He always paid in full when he said he would. I've had other business dealings with Korean-Americans based on nothing but a promise and a handshake. Never a problem. Those business dealings turn into friendships that I still have to this day. But every time I do business with Koreans in Korea, it always seems to end badly.

Even in the six to seven years I taught English I had two pleasant experiences. The first one, the manager was half white, half Korean, raised in America and the second one, my co teacher was married to a Brit. Not all of the rest were complete disasters, but most of them had at least some feeling of ill will, usually about payment.

I don't care. Call me a racist. I've tried to be open minded. When it comes to business, I've given everybody a fair shake. This is my experience. I always hold up my end of the bargain. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to survive as a freelance graphic designer.

Want further proof? There are over 1000 prisoners in this particular jail. This jail is specifically for nonviolent offenders. Everybody I've met so far is in here for corruption, embezzlement or some other financial crime. Just look in the paper right now. The biggest story in there is about the president of the country and his family trying some sly manoeuvring of money and then next biggest story is about a prosecutor, the very person in charge of upholding the law, taking bribes from the biggest con man in Korean history.

There are a lot of great things about Korea, it’s history and people. Business ain't one of them. And really I should know better-- I'm in jail. What more obvious places there to be ripped off by liars, crooks and thieves?