Together with two Korean colleagues you interview two job candidates. Both of them, Mr Kim and Mr Oh are equally qualified for the job. However, in your opinion Mr Oh has better soft skills than Mr Kim. Because Mr Oh never hesitated when replying and was very outspoken, you believe that he has a better ability to work independently. Nevertheless, the Korean colleagues prefer Mr Kim. You do not understand why.
In Europe, professional qualification is important – and it is even better if somebody is able to work independently. In Korea, however, responsibility is usually shared by a whole team. Within this team it is considered advantageous if nobody sticks out in order to maintain the harmony among team members so that no rivalries develop. A high degree of own initiative, a strong personality and direct feedback can therefore be considered obstacles. Directness is rather a privilege of a boss and hierarchy is taken very seriously in Korea.