This is the discussion to support members who are studying for the Korea Business Central Professional Certification (Business Culture Specialization), which covers the following seven learning modules:
** Feel free to post questions or insights about the lessons and required content which you have read. One area we would ask for some member discretion is in asking questions after taking the exam. Comments which look like they give away too much information about the exam questions may be deleted or edited.
Thanks for the swift reply.
Ah, so there will be a lesson on this, I think your course really does cover everything one needs to get started!
I am not at the stage of getting any Korean namecards yet, instead, I was thinking of crafting out my contact details in my email footer as I wanted to initiate a conversation with a potential client.
With this, I guess having 박사 in front of my name be more appropriate (I am assuming that it would follow the same rules as a business card).
Also, would having my name (Adam CHEE) translated into Korean be a good idea or should I just leave it as it is?
I think it could look a bit funny if your entire email is in English except your name and/or Ph.D. designation. It almost looks like you're trying to bring attention to the degree, which I know you're not. Koreans all know what Ph.D. means, so nothing is lost in the communication if left in English.
If you did choose to translate it all though I don't think the Korean-style business card approach is the way to go. It's a bit hard to pin down my rationale here, but in an email footer, I'd punctuate it the same as English like this:
Adam Chee, Ph.D. / 애덤 치, 박사
Just an update on this sub-topic.
I sent my email, with my footer (contact details etc.) in Korean and the company replied totally in English :) Still, I think I scored some minor brownie points for effort (I can't explain it explicitly but rather, the feeling is drawn from the content of the email in comparison to previous corresponds).
Another interesting story I'd like to share was at a conference I attended just 2 days ago.
While the conference took place in Singapore, there was a high number of international delegates, including Koreans. I initiate conversations with a number of them (there were many Korean groups, representing different organisation) and I hit off pretty well with one particular group, so much so, they actually took a gift out from their bag and gave it to me, saying its a gift for friends they met (the only other people they gave gifts too were the key organisers - it was a scientific conference).
I guess the lesson learned for me was to always prepare some small gifts in my bag for such situations!
Adam - My apologies on the late reply; we were hiking the Chiri Mountain Doollae-gil over the weekend.
Yes, it would be normal for the Koreans to reply in English; that happens to me sometimes even if I write the entire email in Korean!
That's great to hear about the responses you got. Carrying gifts around isn't a bad idea, but it's really not required. You must have made a very good impression if the attendees give you one!
Even though I have been in Korea for 5 years, I still feel a little annoyed when people call me just "Kimberly" instead of Kimberly-ssi (킴벌리씨) in the workplace. These days I communicate with clients mostly through email and often times don't know their job position. In this case, I usually go with 누구누구씨, but then feel like I'm making a mistake when they come back and address me in the second email as 킴벌리님. Any tips when you don't know the person's position? Thanks!^^
Those are good observations.
In the workplace, if someone is addressing you without adding any suffix at all, it shows a bit about what they think of you. It's unfortunately just about impossible to bring it up directly with them and ask them to put 씨 on the end; the best approach for someone who addresses you this way on a regular basis would be to mention it indirectly to someone else in the office who is likely to pass on the message for you. You wouldn't ask them directly to pass on the message but by indicating your irritation, if they have any 눈치 at all, they should know what you mean. If getting called without a suffix is a one-time thing, the Korean way would be to just let it slide.
There's a slight nuance difference between 씨 and 님. When someone uses 씨, it means they think this is what you should be called. They might know that you have a job title that's different but by using 씨, they figure that even though they don't know what your correct job title is, it's probably not so high as to be offensive to use 씨.
On the other hand, 님 is a clear indication that they don't know what your title is and that they want to be careful not to cause offense. Thus, 님 is more respectful than 씨 and would never be offensive at all.
If you address someone in an email as 씨 and they reply to you with 님, I would wonder if that's their very roundabout way of trying to tell you that your use of 씨 was a bit too low and that you should raise the level of respect a tad. Hopefully by the time you get their reply, you've seen in their email footer what their correct title is. It would not be necessary to apologize for having used 씨 (unless it turns out it was the president of the company or something).
When emailing someone for whom you don't know their job title (and especially the first time), I would suggest going with 님 instead of 씨, unless you're sure 씨 is OK (such as a new employee at the company).
Interestingly, when speaking of someone in the third-person where you don't know their job title, 씨 would be the default suffix, not 님. 님 by itself seems to be used more in writing than in speaking. In other words, you might find that 님 is best for written communication, whereas you can get away with 씨 if speaking.
Another all-purpose title is 선생님. It doesn't just refer to teachers and could be used in other general situations where you have no idea what the person really does. It could even induce them to tell you what to call them and you wouldn't have to worry that you've caused offense.
Things are extremely nuanced here and I struggle with this all the time, especially as the rules differ between the workplace and other situations. And trying to get clear answers from Koreans who've learned this as second-nature and haven't had to consciously think through it like we do is often a lesson in frustration.
Does this make sense?