November 11, 2013

The Core Problem With The Korean

The Korean has hurt and offended a lot of people through his blog. He does not recognize this because he feels justified in his humiliation and intimidation of others. To him, life is a game where there are winners and losers and it justifiable to do whatever you want even if it means harshly crushing weaker opponents. That's why he felt so justified in attacking Malcolm Gladwell. It is evident from his tone when writing about his problem with Gladwell that he really relished and enjoyed putting a New York Times bestselling author "in his place". But when gently corrected by Chris Kahn about an error in his own writing, The Korean sheepishly bowed out of the conversation, downplaying how wrong he actually was. Because on same level, The Korean knows that the same harsh judgment that he attacks others with can be used on him. Yet, he refuses to learn from that and give others the grace that he cowardly requests of them when he errs. I have read The Korean's blog from the beginning and recognize now that he is just a bully who gets off on one-upping others. He's not really interested in the truth about Korea or anything. He just wants to show off how much he "knows" to feel better about himself. And he will do whatever he can to assert his own superiority because deep down, he is a very insecure person who is not willing to look at his own shadow. That's how he is able to write humiliating posts of people who send him grammatically incorrect emails and even threaten readers when they disagree with him.

He believes that he is so superior because he was able to learn English in two years to fluency. I know of a guy who learned Japanese in one year and got good enough that he was hired by a Japanese company where they only spoke Japanese. As great as that is, he is not arrogant and genuinely wants to help people, giving free advice to others who want to learn as well. Compare that with The Korean who looks down on and feels justified humiliating native English speakers who don't speak as well as him because he thinks that it is due to laziness. I have news for him. Not always. Some public schools in the U.S. are so poorly funded and staffed that they are like third world countries. A lot of students get passed even when they lack basic reading and writing skills. But do you think Mr. Know-it-all recognizes this? No. Because he is so stuck in his ivory tower believing that everyone has the same privileges and opportunities as him. Not all Korean parents are able to whisk their son off to America because he has problems adapting to high school in Korea. The Korean claims to have gotten good grades and I can believe that, but in that case, most Korean parents would not be so indulgent as to whisk their son off to America because he has problems with the Korean school system. He wrote about this and later removed it from his blog, but it sounded more like an attitude problem on his part than anything. He also wrote that he scorned the other Korean students at his American high school for not working hard to learn English as quickly as him, neglecting the fact that it is their right to learn as they please and he was not exactly learning for the good of humanity. He had to learn English for his own SELF-INTEREST so that he could do well in high school and go to a good college. He even bragged about being privileged to attend a predominantly Korean high school where he was able to submit a biology exam in Korean and still get a good grade on it. So he will take full advantage of the opportunities when they suit him, but look down on others who don't. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do well, but that does not give you the right to look down arrogantly on other people and be mean to them as a result of that. You can water down your writing so that it makes you appear more "modest", but ultimately, it is what is in your heart and mind that determines that. If you are truly a modest person, then you wouldn't have to fumble with your tone so much because your writing would naturally appear that way. Saying "I don't mean to be immodest" does not take away from your arrogant tone and people can tell when they read your writing whether you are being sincere or not. It always comes through.

Ultimately, it comes down to an abuse of power and a lack of integrity on The Korean's part. Based on his later re-edits of his blog to present himself more modestly, I really don't believe that he has the intent to look at himself honestly and be a good person. He can't see the truth of who he is because he is someone who is very caught up in his own self-glorification and will abuse his power to get that. As long as OTHERS see him as a good person, he is satisfied that he is. Even with all of his legal education that provided a lot of training in critical thinking, he is unwilling to apply that to his own life and his own self. If you're not willing to be self-critical, how can you take full responsibility for your actions? You can't. You're just going to do whatever you want regardless of the consequences. The Korean has hurt a lot of people through his blog whether it is through the actual posts or comments section. He has verbally abused, intimidated, humiliated, and degraded others through his speech and he is unwilling to take responsibility for that.

He acts like he is so progressive and so open-minded, but the truth is that he is quite bigoted in a number of respects. He has tweeted that he hates people from a certain region of Korea. But more than ethnic, I believe that he is a political bigot at his core. He claims to be for freedom of speech, yet he is disrespectful and intimidating to those who disagree with him respectfully. He's an internet bully who will use his credentials to challenge and threaten others yet cowardly sneak away when his own errors are brought to light. The Korean is one of those selfish people who believe they are good because they are nice to their friends and family and go to church. But how does he treat others that are not of his circle? Not very nicely based on what I have seen. The people around him may be oblivious to his flaws because he is so nice to them, so it is up to others to tell him he is wrong and hold him accountable for that. That's part of the reason I wrote this post because I believe that if no one says anything, then The Korean will continue to be as he is, abusing his authority and hurting other people. I believe that people should be critical about whatever they read on the web, especially when it comes from an anonymous source. But people may write all they want. Ultimately, it is up to The Korean to decide how he will act. As long as he sees something, he can't feign ignorance. He can dismiss all the criticism as nonsense or he can actually be self-critical. Whatever the case, I'm pretty sure it will take a while before he really behaves because old behaviors don't just fall away so quickly. The Korean is too satisfied to live in his own self-glorified cocoon of Korean "authority", but I believe that some day, he will have to face his own darkness with true humility. He has stated before in the comments section of his blog that he believes that he does not have to apologize for things that have long past. That somehow time negates all wounds. This is very ironic coming from a lawyer whose responsibility is to understand the true meaning of justice. Of course, this is not always practiced and from his own behavior, it is evident that he has no qualms about abusing his authority and power. It is so disappointing to see people who have been given the great advantages of a good education squander it away for their own personal gain and ultimately, their own moral decline. I really think people like him should not be rewarded. It would be great if people stopped reading his blog, but I admit that he does write some interesting things even if I don't always agree with him. 

October 02, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video: Part 3

They wanted to commit the "perfect" crime, but they were not able to pull it off. Because no matter how "perfect" it seemed to them, they were not able to get away with what they did. The video is out there for everyone to see in Korea, America, and the rest of the world. And even if they aren't recognized, they will continue to live with this in their minds. It wouldn't be that hard for someone who knew them casually to recognize their voice and what was shown of their faces and put two and two together. The video they had taken for their own pleasure will always be a source of fear, regret, and shame, so in their original purpose, they failed because in the end, they did not get a video that they could enjoy. Every time they watch the video, they will be reminded of that night and  what happened in the aftermath.

After that night, I'm sure the young Korean woman in the video woke up in a haze with a sense of deep pain over something she did not remember. It was a rude jolt in a life that was already depressing. That is why she had drunken herself to a stupor and that is why the video makers chose her to target for their video. She was a lone, drunk woman who would not have put up a lot of resistance. She would not have the wits or defenses to be able to, so these guys could go through with their plan and get the "perfect" shot for the fetish video. But drunken hazes are interesting because sometimes, people do remember little bits and pieces after a while. But who knows how this thing will turn out?

The reason that these guys were able to make such a video is because they are sociopaths. They lack a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience. They are psychopathic, showing extreme egocentricity and failure to learn from experience. This video does show them doing something that is amoral and antisocial. They certainly did something criminal by sexually harassing that young woman. They were able to do all of this because they were extremely selfish to the point where they could dismiss the humanity of another person, in this case, a young, drunk Korean woman. Basically, their life is about getting what they want without regard to how it affects other people. Other people do not have value unless they can give them something that they desire. Other people are props in their life that they can do with as they please. This is the mentality that you would have to have in order to make a video like this. But now, these guys are scared because their own sense of survival is being threatened. Nothing matter until it affects THEM on a certain level. They have the right to do as they please however it affects other people, but when something affects them and keeps them from doing what they want, there is a problem.

To be honest, I really don't think the backlash from this video will turn them into saints overnight. I think they will be more careful in what they choose to do in public. But otherwise, they will continue to be the same selfish bastards that made this video. Immature, whiny kvetchpats who will continue to go on to Dave's ESL and express their sociopathy to the world wide web. There, they will find like-minded compatriots to egg them on in their disgusting bashing and degradation of Korea. That's what's wrong with the whole kvetchpat scene. Instead of helping eachother out to make the most out of their time in Korea, they really bring out the worst in eachother by encouraging eachother to hate and bash Korea. Yet they wonder why they continue to have such a horrible time? Not a hotbed of geniuses. That's for sure. What they can't face is that their problems in Korea are largely due to their own dysfunction, their own inability to adapt to a different culture and language and life as whole. Because they come from multi-racial countries, they are under the illusion that it somehow makes them progressive and open-minded when the truth is that they have only experienced diversity on a shallow level. They don't really understand other cultures or races. Because they have seen other races in person does not make them an expert on diversity more than a Korean person who lives in Itaewon an expert on other countries. The truth is that their understanding of multiculturalism is very superficial like a tourist who buys trinkets from a gift shop and believes that it gives him great insight into that culture. No. You've experienced other cultures as a CONSUMER, not a true student.

That's the whole problem with kvetchpats. They come to Korea with a consumerist mentality. What can I get, get, get in Korea. And when Korea does not give them everything they want, they throw a hissy fit. It's just pure selfishness, plain and simple. Korea has to give them everything that they demand, but they have no responsibility to respect or understand its culture, language, and people. Sounds like a fair deal there. The real problem is that they lack the maturity and personal responsibility to adapt to a different culture. They think that everything should be handed to them and that they shouldn't have to put forth any effort. The real truth is that Koreans don't have to be nice to them, trying to understand them when they don't speak the language. A lot of kvetchpats use this as an excuse to not learn Korean and blame it as the source of their own lack of motivation. They also say how useless it is for them to learn when they are the ones relying on their Korean girlfriends, friends, coworkers, and strangers to translate in various situations. I guarantee you that they wouldn't feel so entitled if they had to deal with a society that looked harshly upon those who  did not speak the language well as many English speaking countries do. You have a country where the main language is Korean. You need to communicate with Koreans, most of whom do not speak fluent English. You would think that is a no-brainer, right? But the most diehard kvetchpats will continue to make excuses, excuses because they are lazy and self-entitled and another year will pass in Korea and another and another. They don't grow. They don't really learn anything from their time in Korea. They are just living as perpetual tourists in a country where they expect to be treated like Koreans while getting all the foreigner privileges with none of the Korean responsibilities. They are wasting their lives with one excuse after another. All the while, their bitterness continues to grow. The longer they stay in Korea, the more bitter they get. And they falsely believe that it has something to do with Korea. Never taking responsibility for the lives they have created. They could always take a plane and leave, but then they would no longer have Korea to blame and actually have to take responsibility for their lives. Next . . . 

October 01, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video: Part 2

Even if the kvetchpats acting in the harassment video, did several takes of the same scene, I wouldn't call it acting. It would be similar to hiring someone to play themselves in a movie according to how they would actually be in real life instead of a context imagined by the writer. So it would not be such a stretch for a clubbing alcoholic to play drunk and hung-over after going to a nightclub because that is how they would be in real life. Likewise for the creators of the nightclub harassment video. They were just acting the way that they did in real life although I'm sure they used a script to make sure they got to say everything they wanted to say the way they wanted to say it. That way, they could replay the video and relive their fantasy of how they degraded a Korean woman. Nothing in life occurs in a vacuum and I don't believe that this was the first time that these guys acted this way toward a Korean woman. But this time, they were calculated enough to devise a script in their head about what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it to live out their ultimate fantasy of degrading a Korean woman. The motivation was not something that they needed to work on like real actors because they already had the motivation to degrade a Korean woman. That is how they are in real life. If you put them next to a computer, I'm sure that they would naturally go to Dave's ESL or some other Korea bashing site and  degrade Korean women. I'm sure that this was not the first time that they had gone to a Korean nightclub or the particular nightclub in question. They had been out enough to know where they wanted to film, where they could find a lone and drunk Korean woman to harass, where it would be so loud that no one would pay much attention to them and disrupt their filming. They knew where they could get away with filming such a video. It wouldn't be a place where Koreans mainly went to with their friends. It wouldn't be a place where there were few foreigners so that they would stand out. It would be a place where there were lots of foreigners, lots of loud music, and lots of lone, drunk Korean women to prey upon.

This just goes to show the kind of people that made this kind of video. They were so unhappy in Korea that their greatest pleasure was making a fetish video degrading a lone, drunk Korean woman. They had become so unhappy and frustrated at their lives in Korea that they chose to displace it on innocent Korean strangers that they had never met before. Instead of dealing with whatever difficulties they had in a smart and mature manner, they chose to blame all Koreans instead and degrade all Koreans to relieve their own frustrations about their own lives. People can say that Dave's ESL or those other Korea bashing sites are harmless. I do not. Some expats say that they are simply relieving their own frustrations, but when you keep posting the same types of things over and over again that bash other people, it does have an effect. It affects the people reading your trash and it affects you because you are perpetuating the kinds of attitudes that make it okay to degrade Korean people. There are people on those sites that have been at it for years. You can just look at their post count and how long they been on that site to see how invested they have become in the whole process of bashing Koreans. The more you do anything, the more it becomes ingrained in your mind and your life. I haven't met any Dave's ESLers in real life, but I do know that they would not be pleasant to be around. Some people are so mindless to think that their attitudes are private. But if you repeat the same thoughts over and over again, they become part of you and that is what you project to the outside world, so it wouldn't surprise me that these guys continue to have bad experiences in Korea, because that is what they attract. Unpleasant people attract unpleasant situations. They make the smallest inconvenience that MOST KOREANS FACE AS WELL an assault on their foreignness. No, Korea is not inconvenient for foreigners because it has something against you. Korea is inconvenient because you are a foreigner who does not know the language or culture well and because you aren't willing to learn. And sometimes, Korea is just inconvenient for everyone, not just foreigners, because some people want to save money and not provide toilet paper, etc. or because that's just how things have been done so far and people are used to it. Yes, some Koreans don't like foreigners, but that doesn't mean that is the case every time and to rush to that judgment in every situation just makes you a person with a bad attitude that lacks critical thinking skills.

Instead of taking responsibility for themselves and their own lives in Korea, the video makers chose to live their ultimate fantasy by degrading a long, drunk Korean woman and filming that interaction. And the poor, drunk Korean women had to endure hours of agonizing degradation as these guys were trying to "perfect" their sick fantasy. That is how they sick they are. That is how degraded they are. And that is what you need to recognize when watching the video. It was not a one time shot, but something that was played out several times over. We only saw a few minutes, but the interaction with the young, drunk Korean woman went way longer than that. 

September 28, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video

If you have been keeping up on kvetchpat news, you would have discovered the posting of a video of several Western (white) men harassing a drunk, Korean woman at a nightclub. Max Fischer wrote about this after discovering it through the Korean media after it was posted on Facebook. Then, it spread to several other English news outlets, the usual kvetchpat watering holes, and other Korea related blogs.

Recently, Max Fischer wrote an update saying that he had seen alternate footage of the same scene from the video. He falsely concluded that because there were several takes of the scene that the whole video was acting. Wrong. I do believe that the makers of this video re-shot the scene because they were making a movie and wanted to get the "right" effect. The makers had already rehearsed how they wanted it to play out and wanted to get the desired response from their victim, so of course, they would repeat the same dialogue. And of course, a woman with limited English skills who was drunk would repeat the only English she knew how to respond with. There was a commercial in Korea a few years back making fun of how mindless some Koreans can be when learning English. In the commercial, a young Korean man gets hit by a car. A Western (white) driver comes out and asks, "How are you?" The young Korean responds, "I'm fine and you?" when he has just been hit by a car. The Western man looks at him bewildered. This commercial reflects how some foreign speakers will respond the same way to certain questions because that is all they know to say. It was obvious from the video that the Korean woman's English was not great.

I know that the makers hope this movie idea will exonerate them, but I know much better. Just because the creators were shooting a movie does not mean that there were no victims involved. This was not a standard filming where ALL actors knew they were going to be filmed and were willing participants of the movie. The young, drunk Korean woman was not conscious enough to make that decision. The other participants of the movie were. They set out to shoot a movie degrading Korean women and found an easy target. "Strong men" who felt empowered to approach a Korean woman as a group, but would be too cowardly if there was one more Korean woman. The young Korean woman in the video was alone with very few people around her. It was a loud nightclub, so unless you were close, I don't think you would have been able to catch on to their conversation and how degrading it was even if you spoke fluent English, which many Koreans don't. These guys AMBUSHED this lone, drunk Korean woman because they wanted to use her in a fetish video degrading Korean women. These guys were trying to do something similar to "Black Out Korea" by finding people they could humiliate by capturing their image on camera. They looked for a drunk Korean woman who was alone that they could BAIT into their degrading scheme. I would not be surprised if there are other videos like this. I know that the creators of this video hope that the pretense of shooting a movie will get people to back off so that they can continue to be whiny ESL teachers who hate on Korea and victimize unwitting, probably drunk Korean women. But I have news for you guys. It doesn't.

This whole scenario reminds me of Joe Francis and his "Girls Gone Wild", an American video series that showed women taking their top off in public. Now, I'm sure that there were some women who did this voluntarily out of some exhibitionist streak, but there were actually others who were ambushed by the crew by having their tops pulled up without their consent. There was a class action suit made by a woman who did not realize that she was on one of their videos after one of the crew members pulled up her shirt. There were testimonies from other witnesses that said that they had had the same thing done to them or seen it happen to someone else. They won the lawsuit and Joe Francis and company had to pay a lot of money. Were there several takes in the shooting of this series? Yes, because the videos did contain outtakes that were added to another video. I only saw commercials of these videos with the boobs blurred out. Some of the women in this lawsuit were drunk as were others. Just because something is a movie doesn't mean that there are no victims. Child pornography is one example. Filming sexual contact without the other party knowing is another. I'm pretty sure that the drunk, Korean woman in that video was not able to give her consent because she was drunk. If someone made you sign a contract while you were drunk, should it be legally admissible? Absolutely not.

The lengths that some kvetchpats will go to in order to "protect" their own. The more you reinforce this kind of behavior, the more it will be perpetuated. The mentality that justified "Black Out Korea" is the same one that fueled this video. Only these guys took it a big step further. Who do you think it hurts? You can continue to blame the Korean public for being "xenophobic", but until you take responsibility for yourself, then nothing will change. This is the kind of mentality that kvetchpats love to trash Korea for, but unfortunately, they aren't willing to be self-critical and prove to be the biggest hypocrites of all while exalting how multicultural and tolerant their own countries are. Even if that were the case, they certainly aren't the best examples of that from their own country. Koreans are self-critical for the most part when a Korean does something bad overseas, so netizens will criticize that person for shaming the country instead of choosing to blame it on the environment or the victim. Just goes to show that until kvetchpats take responsibility for their behavior and hold others accountable in their community, they will continue to perpetuate the cycle wondering why they don't get respect, trashing those who have a good time in Korea as Korea apologists. I've watched some videos of people who had a great time in Korea and what I've noticed is that they actually make an effort to understand Korean people and culture and learn the language as well. I can't really say that about kvetchpats who take no responsibility for their bitter and negative attitude. It is not Korea that makes you such a negative and toxic person. It's you. You control how you choose to live your life and the fact that you continue to live as a bitter and hateful person in a country that you are miserable in says a whole lot about you. You CHOOSE to LIVE in Korea and yet you complain about what a miserable life you have.

The only thing that the video makers are sorry for is getting caught and they haven't even apologized for taking part in the video. It was just a movie, they say as a lame excuse. I know that they would continue to make such videos if they weren't caught. They probably thought that they could make a bunch of videos that would be semi-anonymous and indistinguishable from the rest of Youtube. Videos that they could enjoy with their kvetchpat buddies, making fun of how stupid Korean women are and trashing Korean society as a whole. Only it backfired in their case and they received a lot of backlash. Now, they are really scared for their jobs and life in Korea. But as scared as these cowards may be, they don't know a hundredth of the pain that the young woman in the video is suffering. Her face was exposed and this will negatively affect her career and marital prospects. No respectable Korean family will want her to marry into their family even though she did nothing wrong in the video. She was drunk at the wrong place and the wrong time. I know of Korean women who lost job offers after receiving negative media coverage, so it's not a stretch to say that this is likely for her. Those ESL cowards did not reveal their entire face and I'm sure that multiple takes were done to give them some anonymity in the videos. They set out for a nightclub in Seoul where they planned to target a drunk and unassuming Korean woman that they could degrade with their antics. They kept retaking each scene until they got what they wanted. The Korean woman did not speak much English. She was drunk, so it is highly plausible that she would repeat the same answers to the same comments and gestures. If you don't speak a language well, that is what you are going to do because that is all you will know how to do. This actually makes it MUCH WORSE than if they were randomly at a club with a camera and just being spontaneous. They actually PLANNED this CALCULATED ASSAULT in order to create a video that they could use to get off on degrading Korean women. It's like Dave's ESL on steroids. Dave's is a place many kvetchpats go to in order to get off on degrading Koreans for their own twisted pleasure, because they are living miserable lives in Korea and choose to blame Korea instead of their own bad attitudes.

Now, these cowards are scared because they got their hand caught in the cookie jar. They are afraid of being discovered by their co-workers and Korean "friends". That is what they have most to be afraid of. Because most people watching these videos will not know them or be able to recognize them on the street. But the people that see them everyday or on occasion will have enough familiarity with their face that they will be able to put the pieces together. So I have news for you cowards. Be afraid. Be very afraid. If you are really that scared, you can always get plastic surgery like you degraded the Korean woman into doing. Get plastic surgery and stop being cowards. How does that feel, idiots? Plastic surgery or not, you know these guys will continue to keep looking over their shoulder the whole time they are in Korea and maybe afterwards. Frankly, I don't understand why they didn't just let this thing blow over. Now, they have left a big electronic trail with a number of people. You have one "reporter", Sam Power, writing for the English edition of a Korean newspaper vouching for them before any "evidence" showed of a film, which makes me think that he actually knows them as a friend or is just really invested in the expat image. If he is as fictitious a character as some on Marmot's Hole claim, I bet he is someone that works for the newspaper, but chooses to mask his identity. Someone should really check this out. You have Max Fischer writing about how he saw a clip of several takes of the same scene, which does not contradict that the woman was still a victim. You have a fake Facebook profile of a "Korean film director" who supposedly shot the movie. It is so easy to make up a fake Facebook profile and I don't know how that could be taken as evidence of a "Korean movie director". Of course, there was an exchange about making the movie. They had been planning it all along. Anyhow, I am glad that the video got out and that part of the cowards' faces were shown so that their acquaintances can more easily identify them. I am glad that there are a number of copies of the video on Youtube, The Washington Post, and other media sites as well as blogs.

You think you got away with this? You didn't. You think that you can stay in Korea and enjoy your miserable life here? You can't. As hellish as your life may have been before, it will get even more hellish like a raging inferno that you cannot control. That is what happens to people who have their conscience awakened with a rude awakening. And for guys like these who had a very low mentality to start with, I am pretty sure it was a VERY rude awakening. The poor young woman did not ask to be part of this. You made her. You chose to act like idiots and you need to face the consequences. YOU did this to YOURSELVES and you cannot blame Korea for that. Keep living in Korea looking over your shoulder because at some point the truth will come out. You have no idea how much you have hurt others a thousand times more than the fear that you are feeling. She is someone's daughter, granddaughter, and perhaps sister. How do you think she feels and how do you think her family and friends feel after she was degraded and humiliated by you? What makes you more important than the young woman you harassed? What gives you the right to stay in a country where you assault and degrade its people? What gives you the right to earn a living in this country that you hate and despise and degrade for your own pleasure, influencing young Korean minds? I'm pretty sure the young woman has lost her career at this point, so what makes you better than her? Why should Korean parents trust their children to you? Korean teachers are respected for the most part. English teachers don't have that reputation because so many of you guys have frankly MESSED IT UP. That was not the case in the 60's with Fulbright Scholars who actually gave a damn about the job, but unfortunately, too many people look to make money from hagwons and do not want to invest the time and money to vet English teachers properly. If nothing more happened than you guys losing your teaching jobs and having to leave Korea, then you should consider yourselves very lucky. Why are you in Korea if you hate it that much? Consider it a blessing that you are able to go back to your multicultural and progressive America or whatever country you came from so that you can live amazing and wonderful lives. But for some reason, I don't think your life in your home countries would be that great, either. The location may change, but YOU are STILL the SAME PERSON. Koreans may forget and so may other people, but God never forgets and you will get what is coming to you long after you think that everything has blown over.

I am sure that the young woman has a case and is able to sue you. I am sure that your school also have cause as well. Korea is not your playground, so you better shape up or get out. The police can be made aware of this even if no private party intervenes and they have every right to subpoena Facebook and other sites for this information. Korea has a highly skilled Internet agency that is trained to root out people like you. You should be jailed for harassment and invasion of privacy, both of which are against the law in Korea. 

False Modesty, Backpedaling, Damage Control, and Where Gladwell Went Wrong

"Good Writer, Bad Writer" on AAK!

Well, I thought the dust had settled on the matter. The Korean had posted a "final word" on the culturalism debate with Gladwell: "Until those questions are resolved, I am standing by what I wrote." This  was from his last post in his series of articles regarding Gladwell and his "culturalism". But somehow, the final word is not truly final. He manages to add more to the conversation by suspiciously writing about how readers ask him for writing advice in " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!". Because he had addressed this question earlier on his blog, it is rather strange and suspicious, considering the timing. I believe that it is a ruse to go at greater length about the Gladwell debate without making an official post about it, just a way to sneak it in while pretending to have moved on from the issue. I haven't seen the blog "Good Writer, Bad Writer" referenced on many other sites after doing a Yahoo! search for it, so The Korean probably found it by tracking links connecting to his site. Interestingly, the vast majority of sites that seem to mention it are Korea-related sites that note "Ask a Korean" and his article " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!". The remaining few  that don't mention "Ask a Korean" are an obscure site on education and a site administered by Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where the author teaches, and perhaps a few others. The blog may be popular otherwise, but the writer teaches at a college that is not particularly well known, so I find it highly doubtful that The Korean would have stumbled upon it if the author had not written about him.

Luckily, Mr. Shawn Doyle, who is a writing teacher, has been generous enough to use my recent post, Culturalism, Gladwell and Airplane Crashes as an example of effective writing. At his blog, Good Writer, Bad Writer, Mr. Doyle has reproduced the post, and kindly provided a play-by-play on the rhetorical strategy that the Korean has employed as he wrote the post. If you happened to be one of the folks who thought the Korean's writing was worth emulating, the post at Good Writer, Bad Writer would be helpful. 

Self-praise disguised as appreciation of another blogger. This is really just a self-congratulatory post to make him feel better about what he wrote because I am sure that he is aware that he did not present the best argument.

You would have to be drinking a lot of Kool-Aid to believe that The Korean does not put that much effort into his posts or that he truly thinks that his writing is not "up to standard" or even "up to his own standards". Look, no one is forcing him to blog. And he blogs out of pleasure, so he is only going to post what he feels good about. His pride is too big to allow him to post anything that would make him feel inept. It is very evident through his tone and how he pontificates at length about his credentials that image is very important to him. He has constantly trumpeted how he has learned English to a level higher than most native speakers. I don't think he would be so bold in stating that if he did not take pride in his own abilities. Believe me, he does take A LOT of pride in his ability to speak English. A LOT. If you don't believe me, go read his posts on that. Unfortunately, I know that he has re-edited and deleted parts of one post that was particularly egregious in trumpeting his accomplishment after reading the previous post on this blog. Why, after all these years would he re-edit it? Damage control. So I don't believe in this false humility. It is just an attempt to do damage control to a situation that has escaped him.

He starts off his post  " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!" like this:
The Korean frequently receives questions along the lines of: "I think your writing is great? How do I become a good writer?" For a few times, he has tried writing a post in response to such questions, and felt too embarrassed to continue. To be sure, the Korean does have a number of principles and guideposts in his mind when he writes. He does strive to be a better writer each time. But the truth is that his writing is still much lower quality than he would prefer. Because this blog is a hobby, he never does put in the amount of effort that he feels sufficient. Consequently, a reader with sharp eyes can usually find persistent errors and rooms for improvement in the Korean's writing. So it felt a bit silly to talk about how to write well, when he was not even living up to his own standards.

Notice the woe-is-me, whiny, and self-deprecating tone and how wishy washy it is compared to his usual tone. Reading his later articles after this post, one can certainly notice a tonal shift. Now, if you have read The Korean, he certainly is not a wishy washy guy and has VERY strong opinions, so I know that this is not genuine. Why does he do this? To protect his pride and excessively large ego. To show what a humble guy he is, to garner the sympathy of readers. A far cry from his usual chest-thumping and braggadocio that he douses us with. There have actually been a few readers that have mentioned this aspect of his personality in his comments section in much earlier posts. But his last post did receive a lot more attention than usual as he was making accusations about the famous author Malcolm Gladwell. "Ask a Korean" was known before then, but not as much as after he had started the debate with Gladwell. Now, you are bringing in a whole new set of readers who did not know or care about The Korean until someone of interest, Gladwell, was brought into the equation. I haven't checked his comments lately, but I did notice that he did receive a lot of disagreement from readers at one point. So it is disingenuous to say that "based on the reception the post had, it appears that the strategy worked this time." Maybe for some readers, but definitely not all. He tries to make the reader believe it through that statement. Nice try, but I am not buying it. I really don't believe that he was trying to emulate Justice John Roberts unless he is as arrogant as The Korean. I have never read anything by Justice Roberts, but I find it highly unlikely that someone in his position would write something so ham-fisted and arrogant. Correct me if I am wrong. Regardless, we must judge The Korean based on his own arguments and not some false comparison to someone else. I did not find his argument "amazing" though I did find it "infuriating" because of the arrogance displayed.

So it feels amazing (and a bit infuriating) when he finishes reading an opinion by Justice Roberts, and feels halfway convinced of the Justice's arguments before snapping out of it. Accordingly, the Korean attempts to deploy this style when he tries to write a strongly opinionated piece. Based on the reception the post had, it appears that the strategy worked this time.

He starts off his post by feigning humility and insecurity in his own writing abilities, but in the above passage, his ego returns once again. He uses the weight and authority of a Supreme Court Justice to give credibility to his own argument, saying that it is his writing style that we need to be understanding of and not how he constructed his argument. He covertly tries to get the more discerning reader to change their opinion about his argument this way: Reader, if you felt put off by my argument, here's why: I try to emulate the style of Justice Roberts who writes in a way that could be construed as a chain of trains crashing down into a "conclusion [that is] undeniable." Nice dodge there. So his writing is not a bloody axe wielding against Gladwell, but an emulation of "one of the greatest writers that the Supreme Court has seen since Robert Jackson." So one should not be critical of The Korean because his writing emulates the chaotic and bombastic style of Justice Roberts who is a writer of great magnificence, so by extension The Korean's writing should be lauded so highly. Yes, no false modesty there.

One tip that the Korean would give about writing is: have an arsenal of several esteemed writers whose style you can emulate depending on the purpose of your writing. For the purpose of the Culturalism post, the Korean was consciously trying to write like Chief Justice John Roberts, who is considered one of the greatest writers that the Supreme Court has seen since Robert Jackson. I think Justice Roberts writes  like a freight train coming down a hill. At first, the train would be stationary, sitting on top of the hill with no freight on it. Justice Roberts would begin his writing by adding freight piece by piece onto that train. After a certain point, the train would start slowly rolling downward, unable to bear its own weight any longer. By the time the train reaches the bottom of the hill--i.e. the conclusion of his writing--it moves with such momentum and speed that makes the conclusion undeniable. 

The Korean is being disingenuous here. Instead of choosing to take responsibility for his own bloody axe and deeply flawed argument, he chooses to lay the blame on Justice Roberts. Look, if you really believe that it is important to imitate "several esteemed writers whose style you can emulate depending on the purpose of your writing", then you should choose them wisely and The Korean is smart enough to do that although he does not take responsibility for this. I don't believe for a second that The Korean tried to fully model his argument on the style of Justice Roberts. I believe that it is possible that he has studied some of Roberts' writings and that may have affected his writing somewhat, but no one is forcing him to imitate anyone. He chose of his own volition to write that way whether it was an imitation or not and for that, he has to take responsibility and not blame some writing style. If a style doesn't work for you, don't use it. And The Korean cannot blame his lack of English skills as he may be tempted to do because he knows that it is good enough to judge nuance and the like. So no, he cannot have his cake and eat it, too. You can't say how great you are at something a billion times and then, say that you are not good enough. The Korean is very arrogant about himself and his own abilities, so to pull the false modesty card is disingenuous. He does not care about truly being modest and respectful. He only cares about his image and ego and I bet, he is not so audacious offline because he has a reputation to maintain and an image to uphold. People who are so focused on image just don't get it. Instead of focusing on image, why don't you just BE whatever you want others to see you as? Then, you would actually BE it instead of PRETENDING to be it and you wouldn't have to try so DAMN HARD. Big difference. He just keeps digging his own grave and I believe that it will be a long time before he actually understands the magnitude of his actions and how they have affected other people. If Justice Roberts truly writes that way, he has a horrible writing style and I don't understand why anyone would try to emulate him, especially a lawyer who is paid to know better and prides himself on knowing better than everyone else. He must not be a savvy lawyer because he does not really know how to separate "smoke and mirrors" from making a strong, solid argument. He's just too caught up in the game.

The Korean ends his post with this statement:

Thank you very much, Mr. Doyle, and thank you everyone for reading.

"Thank you for buying my b.s. everyone" is what he is really saying. Thank you, Mr. Doyle, for giving me a way to validate my posts to readers who may be more critical. Thanks for giving me the "proof" to show that my argument was well reasoned. So even when he is wrong, he's still not. If you want to see the flaws in his reasoning, you can look at my previous post. His post is really just about distorting the reader's perception so that he or she will believe that his argument only appears flawed because of his own lack of effort and writing style and not due to any other critical errors in his reasoning. Yes, I may have erred a bit. But please forgive me as this blog is only a hobby and I was trying to emulate Justice Roberts who has a style that can be described as a 'freight train coming down a hill'. So even when it is my fault, it really is not my fault. Even when I make a flawed argument, I am not really making a flawed argument. It is all justified and should be justified in your head, reader. I see.

As a lawyer, he needs to be a "master" of discourse, but it really is not that hard to see where his argument fails if you actually look at what he is saying and how he is saying it. The only thing he masters is confusing sheep-like readers who hang on to his every word unquestionably as well as overwhelming your mind with so much verbiage that you may get confused and concede if you are not astute enough. Instead of arguing his point, he chooses to use a blowhorn so that you can't even reflect on what is being presented to you. He chooses to dominate the whole conversation so that you will be overwhelmed and give in to his "argument". Because he is THE Korean and so he must know everything about Korea. His "Good Writer, Bad Writer" post really hit it on the head and further confirmed for me that he is really not interested in the truth, but doing a shadow dance of smoke and mirrors. I did mention in my earlier post that he is not interested in the truth, but controlling the narrative. So he is not simply stating an opinion, but generating his own propaganda. This is much worse than the kvetchpats I have written about, which you probably know that I don't have great love for. MUCH WORSE. Because he is not some lost and confused English teacher muttering about his lot in life. He is a well-educated lawyer who is spouting off his opinions as if they are credible and legitimate. That is much more dangerous and much more worse than an embittered English teacher who is just whining out of his own self-inflicted misery. He is presenting his own opinions as if they are irrefutable fact and it is misleading to readers who buy it hook, line, and sinker.

The reason I decided to write about this debate even though I had long been aware of The Korean's style  is due to the sheer audaciousness and hubris displayed by The Korean, which was much more than he usually displays on his blog and that is A LOT. I really do think that he gets off on knowing that he has some influence over the media and the public because he has a well-known blog and believe me, he really does care about how many people read his blog despite his contrived and often unsolicited denials. He is able to be so audacious and arrogant because he is anonymous and able to say whatever he wants without any fear of recrimination and consequences to his own personal or professional life. On the other hand, Malcolm Gladwell is a well-known figure. His face and name are known. People would be able to recognize him on the street. Plus, he has made a career out of writing. That is his bread and butter. The Korean does not rely on his blog for a living though he has made professional contacts and connected to professional opportunities through the blog. So he gets all the perks of fame without any of the hassles. He can write whatever he wants without being held accountable to it. The most that can happen if he went too far is that his host deletes and shuts down his blog. He can still write and still blog if that happens. Gladwell cannot continue writing as before. His credibility is marred as a journalist and too many people lack the critical thinking skills to notice how flawed The Korean's argument is. At least, Gladwell takes responsibility for what he writes and is in the line of fire if it doesn't work out. The Korean isn't. He chooses to abuse the power of anonymity so that he can say whatever he wants without any sense of regard or accountability towards others. And that is why he is so open and brashly audacious and arrogant. It is highly doubtful that he would be that way in real life because he is smart enough to know how that will be perceived.

For all his braggadocio, The Korean fails to recognize that he isn't the best person to argue for his superiority based on his terms, which are about academic achievement and career success. Sure, he did attend some nice schools, but that was after he was having problems at a Korean high school and forced his parents to come to the U.S. to have a future. (He wrote a post about this where he bragged about how he learned English in two years and what preceded that. I have tried to find it, but he deleted and edited out that part.) He had mentioned that he had hated Korea at that time and had problems with the school system, which caused him to have difficulty adjusting despite getting good grades, so he had both failures and successes in his high school career. I'm sure that older readers of his blog will remember the difficulties he mentioned, but it has been edited out from his blog. I would not be surprised if The Korean had gone back and re-edited many of his posts so that they would appear more modest than originally. Because he did re-edit one such post. Success or not, one doesn't have to be a jerk about it. That's a large reason why some people don't like him. There are some people who make you feel like greatness is possible and inspire you. There are others who use their own success to diminish others. Obviously, the Korean is from the latter camp. I'm fucking amazing and YOU SUCK, little people. One would think that someone who has gone through their own humbling experiences would be more understanding of others. More like, so long, suckers!

As for Gladwell, I'm sure that he will continue writing books. I am not the biggest fan of his work, but I have enjoyed some of his writings. The main flaw that I see with him is that he sometimes oversimplifies things. I can understand wanting to create an elegant explanation for something that is easily accessible, but some things just aren't that simple. His writing is about elegant simplicity, but you can't always apply that approach to developing an argument. What Gladwell should have done is consulted with more Korean language and culture experts to get their input on it because culture isn't always so obvious to the outsider. He incorrectly assumed that he would be able to discern it as one would studying an animal or some other physical phenomenon, but culture is not that obvious. Even if he is good at understanding a lot of his own Western culture, he would have to understand Korean culture to determine what role it played in the plane crashes. He might have interviewed a few experts for the plane crash chapter of his book "Outliers", but it wasn't enough. I get that he was saying that it was the hierarchical ASPECT of Korean culture that interfered with communication between pilots. The problem was that he said that it was Korean culture that was the problem. That is what The Korean and some others had a problem with and that is why they labeled him "culturalist". I won't go that far, but as a writer he should have been sensitive to the error of overgeneralization or at least, the perception of such.

I felt that it was important to share my thoughts about The Korean because he was so audacious . I know that no one in his real life would have criticized him because he presents a different persona in real life. He really needs to understand what he is doing to others and has done for a long time. He is not just overly picky and critical. He outright bludgeons dissenters with a bloody axe until their voice is murdered. As an internet critic, he is a mass murderer worse than OJ Simpson. Strangely, he will allow people who openly insult him like calling his wife a "Mongolian" in the pejorative sense to continue commenting on his blog, but go on the attack with people who have granular differences in opinion. It is a twisted sense of libertarianism. It's like he hates and bashes you if you disagree with him, but will put up with a direct insult for some reason. Disagreement is a threat to his sense of being right, but an outright insult can be dismissed as wrong, so he doesn't care as much, never mind how civil the disagreer may be. It's totalitarianism of thought. The Korean is a totalitarian about his beliefs. There is no contradiction between his libertarian aspect because that is what he has deemed as acceptable and right. But for many things, his vision is very black and white. My way is the right way and there is no room for disagreement when it challenges my sense of rightness.  

July 19, 2013

The Korean vs. Malcolm Gladwell

Culturalism, Gladwell, and Airplane Crashes

Culturalism and Plane Crashes: Reactions and Leftover Thoughts

Malcolm Gladwell's Reponse to the Culturalism Post

My Thoughts on Gladwell's Response

If you have read the latest posts on "Ask a Korean", I'm pretty sure you're aware of what I'm talking about. "The Korean" was pretty critical of Gladwell's theory on Korean Air plane crashes. He was corrected by Gladwell and several commenters a number of times, but did not let that detract him from his overall position about how one cannot solely attribute the Asiana plane crash to Korean culture. I agree, but the problem with his argument was that he did not do the due diligence that he excoriated Gladwell  for not doing as well as being a bit too self-righteous and arrogant in his tone as evidenced here:

Well, I happened to share the cultural context of the pilots of KAL Flight 801. I was born and raised in Korea until I immigrated to the United States at age 16. Since then, I have visited Korea numerous times, worked professionally in Korea, and currently interact with Korean professionals on a consistent basis. Most importantly, I speak, read and write Korean at a very high level. If you would like to see for yourself, you are welcome to read my analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the two gay marriage cases, published recently by a Korean media. 
So by the power vested in me by Malcolm Gladwell, I declare: this so-called "interpretation" of the pilots' "true intentions" is pure garbage. It is so ludicrously wrong that I cannot think of enough superlatives to describe how wrong this is. Gladwell's exposition on Korean language is completely, definitely, utterly, entirely, 120% laughable to anyone who has spoken Korean in a professional setting. Koreans simply do not talk that way, period. True, Korean language is suggestive and indirect compared to English. But Malcolm Gladwell takes that factoid and stretches it beyond any recognition. It is the verbal equivalent of a Korean woman who, upon hearing that American culture is more tolerant of clothing that reveals more skin, decides to walk down Times Square completely naked.

A commenter named Chris Kahn responds much more graciously to "The Korean's" assertion that Korean language has nothing to do with the crash of KAL Flight 801.

Hello Korean, 
I'm a Korean too - I actually commissioned as an OCS (like the pilot of Korean Air 801) officer, and served as a naval officer on a ship and later as a UDT/SEAL in the Korean navy. I agree with your basic thesis that Gladwell is inexcusably sloppy and that culturalism is over-emphasized in covering the recent crash. 
However, I do think that language was a contributing factor to the KA 801 crash - though such problems are not necessarily limited to Korean culture as the Challenger and Discovery tragedies, and the development of Crew Resource Management by NASA show. 
 First of all, I disagree with your description of the hierarchy of Korean military officers. In every day interactions, "seniority of commissioning date" is the overwhelming factor in deciding how to interact other officers, with actual age coming in as a modifying factor. Commissioning source (Academy or non-academy) heavily affects an officer's career trajectory and chances for promotion, but does not factor into the language hierarchy. Rank also does not affect the language hierarchy, which causes much cognitive dissonance and discomfort should a higher ranking junior officer work in close quarters with a lower ranking senior officer.
The senior pilot was commissioned in '75 and left the Air Force as a major in '87 while the first officer was Air Force Academy class of 26 which would mean he was commissioned in '78 and left the military as a Lt. Col. Hence, the pilot is unambiguously superior to the first officer. This is supported by the language in the transcript where the senior pilot uses the lowest form of speech (반말) to the first officer. From my personal experience, I have never seen any junior Academy officer fail to defer to a senior (in commissioning date) OCS or ROTC officer. 
Second, the flight engineer is clearly much older and senior to both the pilot and the first officer. But there is another factor in play here - engineering is a secondary rating to flying and in the Korean military at least, there is a strong sense that you don't interfere with another officer's turf. Each specialty is highly silo-ed. For example, on the first ship I was on, the Chief engineering officer (Cheng) was senior to the Executive Officer (XO). Hence, at no point did our XO fail to acknowledge the Cheng's seniority, but in return the Cheng was conscientious about not overstepping the bounds of his specialty and interfering with the management of the ship. 
So there were clear linguistic barriers to open communication within the cockpit of the KA 801. The first officer was junior to the pilot, and the flight engineer was used to keeping his hands off the realm of pilots. 
Second, my own experience running exercises as a SEAL has shown that conventional Korean language hinders cooperation in time sensitive situations. For Close Quarters Combat exercises, where team members must work with each other within a room to clear it of "bad guys" safely, and where the situation and command structures are fluid, my unit has mandated that everyone speaks to each other in the lowest form of speech (반말) regardless of rank or age. Not only does this reduce the time necessary to communicate (since sentence endings are shorter), but it makes the junior members of a team much more likely to speak up when they see a corner that hasn't been "held" yet or a potentially dangerous situation. 
Deference to authority is not a unique problem to Koreans (again, see NASA and Crew Resource Management), but I would argue that the Korean language structurally exacerbates the problem. 

To which the Korean responds:
Thank you sir, this is helpful. Like I said, it is always a good practice to refer to someone who is closer to the context. It would have been great if I could speak with you before I wrote the post. Unfortunately, I am just some nobody who blogs for hobby, not a best-selling writer--so I didn't have the wherewithal to reach out to someone like you. I am writing a follow-up post, and I will definitely raise this point.

I'm not buying this attempt at humility. I believe "The Korean" had to be "humble" as it was the only way that he could bow out with his ego intact. The commenter had more legitimate credentials than "The Korean" as far as discussing the Korean Air force was concerned and so there was nothing he could offer to counter it. He had actual experience in the Korean military. Compare Kahn's gracious rebuttal to the way "The Korean" bulldozes Gladwell on how his Korean credentials trump his. Big difference.  While "The Korean" is being "humble", he manages to make a subtle dig at Gladwell for not doing his research. After all, "The Korean" is "just some nobody who blogs for hobby, not a best-selling writer--so I didn't have the wherewithal to reach out to someone like you."

In his following post, "My Thoughts on Gladwell's Response", "The Korean" talks about how he was able to speak to a number of Korean men who had served in the military. Yet he is not able to avail himself of the resources to connect with someone who had served in the Air Force because he is "just some nobody who blogs for hobby". He thumps the fact that he is someone who has "visited Korea numerous times, worked professionally in Korea, and currently interact with Korean professionals on a consistent basis. Most importantly, I speak, read and write Korean at a very high level. If you would like to see for yourself, you are welcome to read my analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the two gay marriage cases, published recently by a Korean media. " Surely, his media and personal contacts would have led him to such a connection. So the argument about not being a "bestselling author" is a moot point. I believe that "The Korean" is actually better able to connect to such a contact because of the qualifications he emphasized.

Gladwell notes that I was incorrect about Korea's military hierarchy. For the record, I do not believe I was incorrect in my original post. Recall that virtually all Korean males serve in the military. What I wrote in my post is based on the military experience of numerous Korean men with whom I have conversed. Generally speaking, it is true that a bit more respect is accorded to a lower-ranking soldier who is older than the higher-ranking soldier, compared to a lower-ranking soldier who is younger than the higher-ranking soldier. It is also true, generally speaking, that military pedigree matters in the level of respect a soldier is accorded.
However, I will readily admit that none of the men I spoke with served in the Air Force, and none of them served as an officer on a career track. So when a commenter who said he served as a naval officer pointed out particular features of Korean military officers who serve as a pilot, I readily accepted his authority and posted a correction. I posted the correction because while my general knowledge may not have been incorrect, it was misleading. I wish I had the chance to speak with an actual Korean pilot who previously served as an Air Force officer, but as someone who blogs for hobby in his spare time, I just did not have the resource to find and interview such a person.

Again, there is a deflection of blame and a shirking of responsibility. "The Korean" had conceded the point to Chris Kahn who had stated:

First of all, I disagree with your description of the hierarchy of Korean military officers. In every day interactions, "seniority of commissioning date" is the overwhelming factor in deciding how to interact other officers, with actual age coming in as a modifying factor. Commissioning source (Academy or non-academy) heavily affects an officer's career trajectory and chances for promotion, but does not factor into the language hierarchy. Rank also does not affect the language hierarchy, which causes much cognitive dissonance and discomfort should a higher ranking junior officer work in close quarters with a lower ranking senior officer.

This is in direct contrast to "The Korean's" point that age trumps seniority with seniority being the modifying factor and that rank affects the language hierarchy, so I cannot see how he can say that his "general knowledge MAY NOT HAVE BEEN INCORRECT" yet still maintain that "it was misleading". It was misleading because if you present things in the wrong context, your argument is flawed PERIOD. And then he follows with one excuse after another saying that he wasn't able to contact an Air Force veteran because he is a "lowly" blogger. 

 I notice that "The Korean" has a habit of pontificating at length when he seeks to deflect focus from his own errors in judgment as he has done many times on this series of articles and elsewhere on his blog. It's just a way to assert his dominance over the subject matter. Rambling so that readers get deflected from his flaws in reasoning. It's just a long-winded way to deflect blame. He can't just say that he was wrong. He has to go off on some crazy tangent like "Well, I will concede the point, but I was right about this, this, and this . . . " 

Many comments said KAL flights venturing into Russia during the late 1970s and 80s were also a pilot error, and it was fair for Malcolm Gladwell to count them as he was tallying up Korean Air's accidents.
The Korean disagrees. He will take the point is a navigation error is a serious pilot error. But the usual consequence of poor navigation into the wrong airspace is not that a military jet will appear and shoot your plane down. There is an obvious difference between wandering into the wrong air space and ramming into a mountain: the former, in most cases, does not lead to a plane crash and deaths.
But if you must insist otherwise, that's fine. This is a small point in the overall assessment of Gladwell's argument, so it is strange to see so many commenters get so hung up on it. In the Korean's mind, the greater problem was that Gladwell never disclosed the fact that two of the crashes that he counted were results of military or paramilitary attacks. At the very least, Gladwell could have let the readers decide if it was fair for him to count the three crashes as a part of KAL's safety record
Pasted from <>

He contradicts himself here, stating that wandering into Russian air space was not a "pilot error", but then saying that "navigation error is a serious pilot error". Yes, I admit that you have a point, but I disagree because the consequence of such an action is not as serious as you claim. He just can't admit that he's wrong and has to find a way to make himself right however convoluted that way is.

You know who did have the resource to do so? Malcolm Gladwell. He is a world-famous writer; he can speak with virtually anyone in the world. It is not as if Gladwell had to interview Vladimir Putin about Russia's nuclear launch code. He simply had to speak with a few Korean pilots to test his theory. But this apparently did not happen.

Deflecting blame for his own lack of research. I'm not buying this. The Korean simultaneously trumpets his large network of professional Korean contacts and Korean language skills to assert his authority over Gladwell on matters of Korean culture while saying that he is unable to find a Korean Air Force veteran because he is just some "lowly blogger". You can't have it both ways. He has also written an " analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the two gay marriage cases, published recently by a Korean media", so he cannot sincerely expect readers to believe that he does not have the contacts to do so.

Gladwell questioned why I would not include the two KAL flights that were shot down in the category of pilot error. I would not, because I think there is a difference between a pilot error that puts an airplane in the wrong airspace and a pilot error that puts an airplane into the side of a mountain. But even if I concede the point, several questions remain.

They're both pilot errors however you categorize them, but "The Korean" does a nice job of nitpicking to deflect his own flawed reasoning.

He's far too generous with his own mistakes and lack of research than he is with a "granular" difference in opinion with someone he excoriates for committing "journalistic malpractice". The fact that he digs in his heels to nitpick at the "granular" difference just shows that he is way more interested in being right than understanding the truth. It's not about the Asiana incident at this point, but whether "The Korean" is seen as right or wrong.

What does that say about him? He's not really interested in understanding Korea, but pushing his own dogma on others. He's more interested in controlling the narrative rather than exploring the story, understanding the truth. As intelligent as he likes to pride himself to be and will not let you forget by constantly trumpeting how he learned English in two years when he was in high school as well as having graduated from Berkeley and being a lawyer, he does not show the true intellectual curiosity and earnestness required to deeply understand things. Yes, I am sure he is very curious about things, but he certainly isn't committed to UNDERSTANDING or ACKNOWLEDGING the truth when it conflicts with his own POINT OF VIEW. If he were interested in the truth, he would quickly acknowledge his errors and move on. But does he do that? No, he will concede the point if it doesn't threaten his sense of righteousness, but will meander when it does, making all kinds of excuses for why he was not able to discern the truth or pointing out how he was more right than wrong. He could write a whole lot more concisely than he does, but his long-winded rambling is just a ruse to deflect responsibility from himself and dominate the discussion.

When the ego becomes bigger than the truth, what hope is there? Unfortunately, "The Korean's" ego is too big and so I would take his comments with a grain of salt. That combined with pig headedness is what causes him to be so bullish in trying to make others wrong when they disagree with him. He is able to admit his errors when it doesn't threaten his overall sense of being right like in response to the Korean military veteran, Chris Kahn. Although Kahn pointed out a critical error in "The Korean's" argument, "The Korean" did not feel threatened because he was able to rationalize it as an acceptable mistake that did not challenge his own sense of "rightness". He somehow rationalized that he had done his due diligence by speaking to Koreans who have served in other parts of the military and that not talking to Korean Air Force members was an excusable oversight. I don't know how egotistical one has to be to make this rationalization, but that is a very convoluted way of thinking. Someone points out something that undermines the foundation of your argument yet you are able to rationalize your mistake as excusable because you are so invested in being right. Because of the authority of the commenter, someone who had actually been on the ground experiencing military culture, "The Korean" could not wield his bloody axe as he usually does. He was humbled, but chose not to admit it by hiding behind this false rationalization. Although Gladwell pointed out more minor errors in "The Korean's" argument, "The Korean" was very brutal in the way he excoriated him. Why? Because his ego felt emboldened by his Korean credentials, which he could not do with the Korean military veteran. The difference with Gladwell was "granular", but he could not give a "graceful exit" as noted by one commenter and had to expound that HE WAS RIGHT AND GLADWELL WAS WRONG. He could not give up his sense of rightness because he was too egotistical to do so and thus, had to rebutt Gladwell in a harsh way.

As a reader, I believe that there were flaws in both "The Korean's" and Gladwell's arguments, but unlike "The Korean", Gladwell was able to leave his ego out of it. I do believe that Gladwell is interested in exploring the truth. As for "The Korean", I cannot. Gladwell was able to address the points earnestly. The Korean was not because his ego is too invested in being right and showing how "fair minded" and "well reasoned" he is.

You're either interested in the truth or not. If you are too pigheaded to admit when you are wrong, then you obviously aren't.