Law in the Internet Society
*What it feels like to be a human being living in a different culture*

On July 19, 2009, I came to New York. Before that, I lived in Seoul, Korea for over twenty years. While I was in Korea, I never questioned if the thoughts or values I had was right or wrong. In Korea, every Korean is considered to be in the “main stream” since Korea is a nation composed by a single ethnic group and as long as you are in the main stream your thoughts and values are considered to be right. Also, due to the uniformity of the education system, most Koreans have a tendency to think, talk and behave alike. In other words, the social norm that controls the entire Korean society is very powerful.

However, after coming to New York, I came to realize what diversity meant. Unlike Korea, people seemed to be free from the social norm and pursue whatever they wanted. They were thinking of their own values in their own way. For example, in Korea, the meaning of “successful life” might be identical or similar to many people. It might mean, going to a nice university, getting a nice job, getting paid well, leading a wealthy life and raising your kids in a prosperous environment. Since most Koreans have a similar definition of success, the ways of achieving it also becomes similar. It is becoming a doctor or a lawyer. While in school, it is regarded to be a good thing if you say, “I want to be a lawyer in the future”, but a bad thing, if you say, “I want to be an explorer”.

Even though I used to live in the United States when I was a little boy, my mental values and ways of thinking were formed while I was staying in Korea. Naturally, I think in a way that most Koreans do. So, when I came to New York, many things were “shocking” to me. It can be considered as a “Culture Shock”. Mainly, two things were very different. First, unlike Korea, nobody seemed to be concerned with how they might be perceived by other people. Everyone seemed to be doing whatever they wanted to do. It looks like everyone is enjoying their lives. Not worried about the results their behaviors are going to bring, but trying to make the most of their behaviors while doing them. That kind of status of mind, “carpe diem”, seemed to bring a better result since they were being more efficient while doing things voluntarily. Second, people seemed to set their values on various things. For instance, when choosing a job, they seem to take into consideration what kind of life they are going to live after they get it. In Korea, if you work for a company like Samsung of LG, the kind of life you are going to live is so obvious that you will not have to think about it. You will wake up at six in the morning, to go work at seven, work till nine p.m., come back home around ten at night and go to bed. That’s considered to be “normal”. That is a like you are going to live wherever you get a job. So the only thing that matters when it comes to choosing a job is how much you are going to get paid. Yet, here in New York, there are so many different types of jobs you can get and tons of lifestyles you can get. Let’s say you and your friend work for the same law firm, even if both of you are lawyers, according to your values, your life style varies. If you really want to make money and don’t care about your personal life, you can work about eighteen hours a day. But if you value your personal life, like spending life with your family, you can decide to work less and get paid less. It is totally up to you.

While these two major differences struck me, I came to reconsider my goals in life. Up to this point, I always wanted to be a successful corporate lawyer. I had no doubt I would be a good one. It is not only because I have a financial friendly result of my career aptitude test. Actually I have a huge interest in finance and the substantial reason for this is because of the people I always meet, “my friends”. I have nine very close friends who always gather together ever since we were freshmen in universities. Except two of us (me and a friend who became a medical doctor), seven members of our group went to the finance world to get a job (ex.) stock dealing, derivatives, hedge funds, Private Equities etc.). As a consequence, whenever we meet, our conversation topics are things related to finance. I naturally gained knowledge in the finance field and came to know what lawyers do in that field. The best part for me was, seeing the transaction between the financial world and the legal world. The way how financial transactions occurred and how lawyers played significant roles in those situations fascinated me. The investment bankers looked like “racing horses” since they had the money and had the physical ability to run, but they did know the rules of racing, or how to race. On the other hand, lawyers looked like “jockeys”. Even though they didn’t have the money to invest or the physical strength to run the actual race, they knew the rules of racing and could give advice how to race. Between those two, the latter seemed much more attractive and fun to me. That’s why I started to dream of being a corporate lawyer. I had no doubt that it was what I wanted to do and it would be the best job for me.

However, when I came to New York and met people from various backgrounds, I realized they had totally different values, in life, from me. Several questions started to hover in my mind. “Is the value that I have pursued for my whole life an “optimal” one for me?” “Why am I pursuing it?” “Am I pursuing it because I really want to achieve it? Or just because it’s what’s regarded to be the best thing to pursue?” Additional questions followed. “Let’s say the goal I’m pursuing is not an optimal one and I came to find an alternative…How am I going to pursue it?” “I’m already in my thirties…Would it be appropriate to pursue it at my age?” While having these questions all tangled up in my mind, I felt my identity was being blur. In the past, when I used to work for a Korean law firm, I was pretty sure who I was and what I wanted. But now, as a person who doesn’t even know what exists out there in the world, I’m getting confused about my goals in life. It’s probably because I’m thinking about things which I didn’t think about in the past. I’m sure that my thoughts are being generated by totally different viewpoints of people I newly met here in New York. I have to say that most of the “shocking approaches on matters” or “viewpoints I have never thought about” are coming from “Law in the Internet Society” lecture.

As a conclusion, I have to confess I’m experiencing “identity crisis” since things that I have believed to be “absolute” for my whole life are being challenged at this moment. However, I have a feeling that this kind of rough challenge might be my last chance to discover what’s out there in the real world. That is “a world that I have never thought about”. In my opinion, this kind of “chance to discover a new world” came to me since I stepped out of my existing world. I step back from the usual viewpoint which was regarded to be absolute and omnipotent. Therefore, I shall do my best to make the most of this “opportunity for a new discovery”. While I’m here in New York, I’m going to figure out what I really want in my life and how I’m going to get it!

-- KeeryongSong - 12 Nov 2009



Webs Webs

r1 - 12 Nov 2009 - 23:52:01 - KeeryongSong
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM