No matter how close we feel in a certain social group, distinctions between public and private behaviors are always necessary when associating with people. Whether consciously done or not, crossing such lines can make one feel uncomfortable or even give the impression that they are being treated unfairly. Even when talking to the same person, it is important to differentiate our manner of communication under different circumstances. Four Korea University (KU) students told their episodes of when the obliviousness to such boundaries caused inappropriate behavior or misunderstandings.
Moon Ji Yeong (’15, Chemical and Biological Engineering)
The moment when I felt the most disconcerted by someone being inconsiderate of the public and private boundary was with the inappropriate usages of titles when talking to each other in public. For example, in one of the official events of our major where everyone from the professors to the students attended, it was a little uncomfortable for me when the younger students misused the titles following our names. They would call the older students who are the sunbaes, in words like unnie or oppa. Unnie or oppa are terms which we usually use when we are talking to each other in small, intimate groups. I think that it is more appropriate to use the term sunbae to refer to older students in official, public events.
Jung Hyun Gang (’14, History)
For me, there was this one time when I was uncomfortable because the club leader was too close with a particular member. They kept using informal language in formal conferences and constantly threw jokes at each other when serious conversations were going on. This made it extremely difficult for the rest of the team to focus on the work and seriously impeded the efficiency in the end. As the leader was not doing his job, others had to do his work in place of him, which ended up being a mess. Even if certain members of a club are close to each other, I think it is important to respect each other’s roles and positions when working with others as a team.
Kim Se Young (’17, German Language and Literature)
I have at times spotted cases in which some people would give their close friends additional advantages in official school events. For example, before starting a school event, one of the managers in charge would sneak out free food for their friends and acquaintances. I definitely do understand that
such actions come from good intentions and friendship. However, when there is a limited amount of food that can be handed out at the event and there are time constraints, I feel like others can definitely misunderstand the action and feel as if they are being treated unfairly.
Yang Ryuk Hun (’16, Computer Science and Engineering)
I think keeping the balance between private and public life for students in clubs is quite tricky because at times when the balance is even slightly off, others can be affected as well. When in a club with various people who each have different goals and priorities, it is difficult to get everyone on the same
page. When people put their private needs ahead of the club’s shared goals, others can suffer. For example, when some people put their relationships or volunteering activities before club activities, it is extremely difficult to get things done.