Shin-gate: Misunderstanding the Power of Shame in South Korea

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Department or Administrative Unit


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Shame is not perceived the same way in different cultures, nor is it used the same way. How does that difference across cultures influence our interactions in public space? How does it affect our business interactions? It has been argued, especially in the wake of Asia’s financial crisis in 1997, that there was a lack of shame in Asian cultures aft er the economic crash. The same kind of argument has been presented in the United States following the financial crisis which began in 2008. President Obama has tried to shame the Wall Street crowd. Economic commentators have spoken of banks having no shame. The question is, how important is shame in American culture as compared to Asian cultures? In the discussion that follows, this query will be addressed by focusing on one Asian country, South Korea, and a particular case that has been labeled “Shin-gate.”


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East-West Connections Journal