Saturday, July 14, 2007

Koreans: Mexico's Mexicans

Admittedly, a polling sample of two is probably scientifically worthless, but even with weak data we're getting the strong impression that Mexicans don't like Koreans. Despite having not actually seen a Korean person in over a year, we've heard back-to-back, blanket denunciations of them in the last 24 hours. Our Mexiphiliac friends who are moving to Korea this summer probably ought to be aware of this.

A Mexican friend who owns her own business has been having an unpleasant run-in with a Korean customer over the return of some non-returnable merchandise, and the customer has now threatened to sue. Because that sort of thing often leads to arbitrary enforcement actions like, say, seizure of everything you own, our friend went down to the ministerio publico to preemptively make her case. As soon as the official heard the customers were Korean, he put up his hand to stop her. Say no more. Nothing but trouble with those people. Everyone complains about them. Whatever happened, we're sure it's not your fault. Go complain to their consulate, that always shuts them up.

Later, we're with some friends who own a few apartments outside of town, which they rent out to visiting executives (there's a lot of foreign manufacturing on the outskirts of town.) It's a great business, they tell us, as long as you don't rent to Koreans. (They haven't, but their neighbors have.) Koreans pile up their trash next to - rather than inside - the garbage cans. And they cook in the livingroom, which covers the walls with grease. Most landlords know better than to rent to Koreans, apparently.

We're not taking sides, of course, just passing it along as a sociological observation. The animus seems only to be directed at Korean-Koreans, not, as far as we can tell, at Korean-Mexicans. Koreans have lived in Mexico for over 100 years, since 1,000 of them were brought here by the Brits to work on a henequen plantation in Merida.

the Koreans were first overwhelmed by the unfavorable weather and working conditions, but their diligence soon earned them trust from locals.

"Their job was cutting leaves from henequen trees and collecting them. They worked so hard that they could soon overtake other employees (in speed) and their wages were adjusted to the same level as the locals'," Cho said.

The Koreans persevered in high temperatures and poor working conditions while their home country endured abject poverty and annexation by Japanese colonizers.

Their contract ended after four years, but most chose to stay in Mexico or move to Cuba rather than return to their homeland, which was falling into Japanese rule. They relocated to Mexico City, Tijuana, a northern city bordering the United States, and Cuba, among others.

It's a pretty safe bet that most of them cooked in their livingrooms. Back then, no one really minded.


Anonymous said...

Koreans have names of more than three letters? or they are just lazy?


Burro Hall said...

They're efficient. What they can do in three letters it takes a Mexican two entire apellidos plus a middle name.

Jorge Arturo said...

There are several koreans in Queretaro, due to the presence of Samsung, LG and DAEWOO in the city.

They are really nice people.

Anonymous said...

So where do you go in Queretaro for some authentic kimchee?

Burro Hall said...

Hey, some of my best friends, literally, are Koreans. Okay, they're not literally Koreans, they're second- and third-generation Americans born in Minnesota and New Jersey, but they still have very short last names.

maggie said...

If you are in queretaro go to Juriquilla there you can find at least 3 Korean Restaurants, and in one named Sandulre you can find really good kimchi . . . or if you wanna make it yourself you can find a Korean shop . . just saying.

Anonymous said...

your description of 'Koreans' do not sound anything like Koreans at all.. are you sure you're not referring to some other Asians? (I'm being serious, Koreans are not messy or unpleasant at all)

Burro Hall said...

I agree. But I am definitely describing Mexicans' descriptions of Koreans, yes.