A while ago, I was sitting at a party surrounded by heads and directors of respected international organizations and global companies, some of them women. I have always been fond of international women who play major roles in bringing together fabulous activities with beauty and grace worthy of applause in all aspects. Most gratefully, they have been doing important charity work and exercising women's rights by simply being great role models, manifesting their inner confidence and spirit of embracement. For me, being Korean and a woman is not necessarily an easy life to live compared to being a New Yorker or non-native expat. You would think New York is competitive and tough to live in, but at least New York has been highly cultured and legally protective of women for decades.
As a Korean New Yorker, I could always lift my middle finger at guys who winked at me on the streets instead of trying to be socially polite like I had done to a winking expat executive from a global company in Seoul. For my own integrity's sake, I even tried to enlighten him on different cultural connotations to no avail. I did not attend the party adorned in my haute couture to be winked at by a self-obsessed narcissist or a crude womanizer. I went there to enjoy a night of fun to in pleasant company and to relish in specially catered cuisine by slowly improving Korean chefs. Obviously, women do not necessarily decorate themselves to be knocked down by a stranger for the night.
This may not be in your elite vagrant international philanderers' handbook, but winking in Asia is not only inadvisable, it does not even qualify as an option. For Asians, winking is considered rude and vulgar, and definitely scuzzy in other parts of the world as well. When I asked a British journalist about winking, he also thought it was excessive and sleazy. Either these men must consider themselves trophies, since Korean women seem winkable to them, or they are simply uncultivated and unsuitable for their nouveau riche cuff buttons and inflated business cards. Partially growing up in Manhattan, I have seen a few native Korean women who were equally trophy partners for their upper eastside super rich husbands and lovers. These expat philanderers may not even be the real international trophies in proportion to their condescending demeanors, nor are they even considered unreckonable beneficiaries to the country and its people.
Frankly, all expat titles in Korea are defined differently because not all regional representatives are necessarily the MVPs in their homeland headquarters. I am sure the real bosses are not as unsophisticated as these winking expats. The global headquarters must train their executives before appointing them to the high consumption market of imported goods by female consumers. Even if you just want to be seen solely as "yourself'' instead of being tagged as your boss's representative, you still must learn to respect other lives and cultures before evangelizing them with yours. You gain your own respect from the native residents who are in fact your potential customers and may even become your lifetime friends. As my fortune cookie from the States reads, "Integrity is the essence of all things successful," for some things cannot be completely separated.
Of course there is nothing wrong with human beings approaching one another as man and woman carrying the magnetic forces of yin and yang, the essential unifying power of the universe in Asian philosophy. In fact, life would be dull without such courtships and even continuation of our human species would be doomed. I also see no problem in exponential growth of mixed races if they are truly in love. (This still does not change my stance as a vociferous advocate of preserving the authenticity of each culture and tradition, not for global segregation but for the ultimate convergence and consilience of all human assets around the world.) In any case, respect for women must come first above all cultural differences, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Women are not inferior sexual objects. Asking out normally does not require a wink, but a smile, or honest talk on an official date. It is not just "blondes (who) prefer gentlemen," but all women on Earth. Besides, Korean women do not need additional imported Don Juan's no matter how advanced or magnificent. And the last people they need to see are foreign chauvinists mimicking Korean men's pitiful orgies and sexual misconducts.
Korean women have sacrificed generations of lives building this nation and keeping it intact. They are the ones who gathered gold during the financial crisis for the economy messed up by men. They are the financial technicians and boosters despite economic downturns and rising household debts. Most of all, women have always been the real source of buying power behind Korea's overall economy. They are the de facto engine, a hidden card and an everlasting backup. Welcome to Korea, the land of spiritual motherhood under the female governance of the 21st century. Touch the hearts of women first in this morning calm history of five thousand years and not their bodies. Then you will conquer not only the market dominated by women but also the lover you seek. Marketing women properly is the key to success in this dynamic global hub of rising Asia. I kowtow to those who have found true happiness in international marriages and have achieved interracial, intercultural competence on all levels despite all cultural barriers and different connotations in our global struggle for peace.
A blogger, Ms. Chung is the founder of Ms. English and the Housewives club and Newyorkqueen cooking classes at major department stores in Seoul. She also studied politics at Barnard College and the Center for Korean Legal Studies at Columbia University in New York. She has worked in law, finance, publishing and education industries in the United States and Korea.