ROK Drop

on August 3rd, 2011 at 5:13 am

Why Do Koreans Lie So Much?

Via ROK Head Leon who has had past experience dealing with Korean fraudsters wanting to make a quick buck off of him comes the article below that validates what many of us already know is a problem to be aware of when living in Korea:

According to figures from the Supreme Court, the number increased from 1,533 in 2006 to 1,663 in 2007, 2,090 in 2008 and 2,154 in 2009.

In tandem with the rise in false accusations, the number of people tried for committing perjury in court also climbed from 1,210 in 2006 to 1,638 in 2007, 1,858 in 2008 and 1,983 in 2009.

Experts note that Korea may be the country with the highest rate of people punished for making false accusations or giving false testimonies. In 2007, Koreans indicted for perjury or calumny totaled 1,544 and 2,171, respectively, compared to only nine and 10 in Japan. Taking into account Japan’s population is about 2.5 times Korea’s, experts said the figures indicate that Koreans commit perjury and make false accusations about 420 times and 540 times the rate of the Japanese.

Law enforcement officials here also complain they are having difficulties with witnesses giving false testimonies.

“Some witnesses appear to believe they have the right to lie while making statements to investigators,” said a prosecutor at a prosecution office in Seoul.

Under the current laws, witnesses giving false testimonies to the prosecution or police go unpunished, while those proved to have fabricated facts in filing suits or to have committed perjury in court are subject to up to 10 years in prison or 15 million won in fines and up to five years in jail or 10 million won in fines, respectively. The Cabinet recently approved a revision bill to criminal laws, which would introduce obstruction of justice to enable the punishment of lying witnesses and increase the maximum prison term for perjury to seven years.

Critics say the pervasion of false accusations, perjury and distorted testimonies reflects the embarrassing truth the country faces ― many Koreans don’t feel guilty about lying, keeping societal trust at a low level.   [Korea Herald]

There is a lot more examples, statistics, and historical analysis of why Koreans lie if you read the whole article.  Also here is some further reading on the lying problem in Korea as well that I recommend:

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About GI Korea:

GI Korea has been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 8 years.

  • USinKorea
    5:33 am on August 3rd, 2011 1

    In Free Talking sessions with Korean adults, if the topic was about some issue in another country, and I couldn’t think of a way to ask about the same topic in Korean society, I’d say something like, “Well, what is a major issue in Korean society?”

    One thing they would say is, “Koreans lie to much.”

    It was my first year in Korea, so my college education required I try to think around the statement. Maybe they were saying Korea is an Asian society and they try to “save face” blah blah blah blah.

    After 2 years teaching adults, I realized they meant – Koreans lie to much.

    What I could never figure out is how that worked in connection with something else that came up: How many of them talked about having loaned significant amounts of money to distant relatives, co-workers, school friends, and so on only to have never been paid back.

    I was surprised, because Americans wouldn’t lend out money like that. Later, I couldn’t understand why Koreans would when they also believe that Koreans lie too much…I still don’t get it.

  • ChickenHead
    6:33 am on August 3rd, 2011 2

    “Koreans lie to much”

    What did much ever do to deserve having Koreans lie to it?

    The real question is if Koreans lied to much too much.

  • Chris Hiler
    7:42 am on August 3rd, 2011 3


    Would “much” be any available listener?

  • guitard
    9:44 am on August 3rd, 2011 4

    What I could never figure out is how that worked in connection with something else that came up: How many of them talked about having loaned significant amounts of money to distant relatives, co-workers, school friends, and so on only to have never been paid back.

    I was surprised, because Americans wouldn’t lend out money like that. Later, I couldn’t understand why Koreans would when they also believe that Koreans lie too much…I still don’t get it.

    Are you suggesting there is a direct correlation between lying and not paying back debts?

  • Lemmy
    10:38 am on August 3rd, 2011 5

    Why do Americans lie so much? What about Canadians? How about people from Norway?

    What a deceitfully titled article.

  • kangaji
    11:01 am on August 3rd, 2011 6

    but but… it’s backed up by empirical evidence!

  • Tbonetylr
    2:08 pm on August 3rd, 2011 7

    The calumny or libel law numbers are distorted when comparing to America(I’m not sure about Japan?). In America you won’t lose in court for telling the truth whereas in S. Korea you will. Korean laws do not promote telling the truth, they protect criminals.

  • Liz
    2:25 pm on August 3rd, 2011 8

    In korea, people aren’t only punished for veracity in the court, they’re punished for helping others (example, stop to help after a car accident and you’re blamed for the accident….why else would you help?). Very bizarre system, surprising it even functions because human society is fundamentally dependent on certain level of trust just to function. Maybe it’s close friends and family relations that balance it out. That’s how the Italians do it anyway (they’re the best, most prolific liars of all, it’s a real artform over there).

  • USinKorea
    3:49 pm on August 3rd, 2011 9

    Like I said, I have to defer to the judgment of my Korean students back in the late 1990s on this.

    I did not solicit this particular topic. It was one that came up a good number of times when I would ask a generic question like, “Well, what are some of the problems in Korean society” if we had been discussing some troublesome aspect of America or Japan or elsewhere that I couldn’t find a way to condense into a related question about Korea.

    In short, it was my adult Korean students who wanted to say “Koreans lie too much.”

  • 1SGT(RET)
    4:11 pm on August 3rd, 2011 10

    We all know it’s not only restricted to Korean on Korean business people trying to squash his business opponent or the political guy doing it to his opponent. It’s anytime an American (i.e. Service member) is unlucky enough to find himself in a Korean Court of Justice(?)accused of doing a crime he might or might not have done, but with the Korean witnesses giving their version of the truth, he might as well submit his change of address card right then.

  • kushibo
    5:09 pm on August 3rd, 2011 11

    but but… it’s backed up by empirical evidence!

    This assumes the legal threshold for being indicted for perjury or calumny is similar in Korea, Japan, and the United States. It also assumes that being indicted is pretty much the same as being guilty (including that not being indicted means not being guilty).

    By that measure, there is far more sexual assault in the United States than in South Korea or Japan, based on criminal complaints by women. In reality, however, I would speculate there are more in South Korea or Japan, but this does not show up in statistics.

    Really, what we have here is an apple and oranges comparison. 420 times more likely to lie than in Japan? 420 times?

    There are two many people that bend the truth, sugarcoat bad news, or otherwise deceive in South Korea. Whether that’s inordinately high compared to other countries, I don’t know. In my experience, no, and I think what might partly be at work is that we are more attuned to ways we might be deceived by people in our own culture, thus English-speaking foreign residents in Korea might be more vulnerable to being lied to and cheated in Korea than in their English-speaking home country.

    Granted I may have been extremely lucky in South Korea and terribly unlucky on the US Mainland. Right now I’m putting out fires started by people who came and deceived my aunt out of thousands of dollars, so I’m a bit biased right at this moment (and the only people who ever really ripped me off in Seoul have mostly been Americans).

  • Those weren't bran muffins, Brainiac...
    5:38 pm on August 3rd, 2011 12

    “…the only people who ever really ripped me off in Seoul have mostly been Americans…”

    Well, that makes one of us…

  • JoeC
    6:02 pm on August 3rd, 2011 13

    As I suggested for another social problem, maybe the place to first start correcting it is to address some institutional and legislative deficiencies. By that I mean better and unbiased contract enforcement.

    That is the most common complaint I hear from foreigners working and trying to do business in Korea.

  • Leon LaPorte
    6:22 pm on August 3rd, 2011 14

    Koreans (in general, but not specifically) live in a society that is based on and glorifies graft and corruption. Like the blood money, it encourages this type of behavior with a monetary reward. I have had landlords, taxi drivers and various others rip me off over the years. I realize you are not going to find he cream of society outside a military base but holy crap. Lying, thieving corruption is every where and rampant. One good thing I guess: most Americans do not know how to properly bribe people. The Koreans have corrected that deficiency in me. I am now an accomplished world traveling bribe artist.

    I was thrilled to see this article as it proves that my observations were not through some sort of racist, euro-centric lens. My casual observations are backed up by numbers and statements, right here.

  • Teadrinker
    6:47 pm on August 3rd, 2011 15

    “Korean laws do not promote telling the truth, they protect criminals.”

    Yes, it does not promote telling the truth, but it certainly doesn’t protect all criminals. Innocent people are thrown under the bus. Remember, innocence is not presumed and those who decide to fight their accusations often find themselves punished for having done so with a heavier sentence. It’s no surprise that the conviction rate is 99%. The law system forces innocents to lie about their guilt in order to minimize their sentence.

  • kangaji
    6:48 pm on August 3rd, 2011 16

    Kushibo: so you’re saying the Korean Herald is lying with statistics about Koreans being bigger liars than Japanese but Leon trusts the statistics?

    Also, GI Korea, Retired GI, maybe Guitard? People who have been down range…

    What do you notice about Korean lying compared to say Pashtun compared to Iraqi Arab lying or maybe lying in Thailand and the Phillipines for CH?

  • Leon LaPorte
    7:29 pm on August 3rd, 2011 17

    Yes. YES!. Spock! The Koreans at the – Korean Herald are … lying about how much Koreans lie! (Dammit, Jim!) This is illogical but Koreans MUST … lie or they will die. It must be that the Korean Herald, lying about how much Koreans lie IS illogical. Koreans actually lie … much more than we are being … led to believe.

    //…=dramatic pause and opportunity the chew the scenery.

  • Hot Stuff
    5:29 am on August 4th, 2011 18

    @ #15, “Remember, innocence is not presumed and those who decide to fight their accusations often find themselves punished for having done so with a heavier sentence. ”

    Sounds just like the U.S. military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    A sevicemember can refuse to accept Non-Judicial (Article 15) punishment (essentially plead not-guilty) and will then be subject to courts martial, for which the minimum punishment, if convicted is much greater.

  • cgal
    9:42 am on August 4th, 2011 19

    up to 10 years in jail or 15million won fine for perjury,
    how is that sexual assaults receive less punishment? isnt the max like 7 yrs?

  • GI Korea
    7:25 pm on August 5th, 2011 20

    @16 – Kangaji, it is difficult to compare Iraqis and Afghans with Koreans because I have much more experience dealing with Koreans. Plus in Iraq and Afghanistan these are war time situations. You have people that may not normally lie but when your life is threatened by people that have no issues with chopping your head off that is a strong incentive to lie.

  • D Wallce
    8:06 pm on August 5th, 2011 21

    Where is Tom these days? I want to hear his alternative opinion on this.
    I have to admit this place isn’t as interesting as it used to be when he was around.
    Are you still here Tom?

  • USinKorea
    9:20 pm on August 5th, 2011 22

    Since I (we) started deleting his and some other short comments that did nothing more than race-bait or personally attack someone, he has largely stopped commenting.

    Which adds credibility to what I’ve thought all along: That his purpose here for years has not been to engage in discussion or even heated debate but to attack the forum itself by bringing it down to the gutter.

    Tom has shown in the past that he can take the time to type out comments that do attempt to make points to engage in a substanative debate. If he does that now, his comments won’t be touched.

    But, short attack comments have become too common here. And it has been going both ways. In the past, race-baiting comments and personal attacks were by far the exception, but that has changed in recent times. It was time to get things back in order and apply the comment policy.

  • Tina Shriner
    1:22 pm on August 1st, 2012 23

    The reason Korean’s prosecute more “liars” than Japan, because in Korean it is seen as more disgraceful and more punatively – thus, people who are caught lying are more likely to be punished and it is less excusable. Whereas, in Japan, lying and holding back the truth is more culturally the norm. I lived in Japan, and it was very obvious to me the Japanese do not like when you confront the truth or say anything that “rocks the boat”; whereas, in S. Korea they respect it more and it is more the norm to not hold back your feelings or opinions, and to be honest with how you feel. This is not the case in Japan. Thus, lying in Japan is more the cultural norm.

  • Tina Shriner
    1:30 pm on August 1st, 2012 24

    This website is not being created by a reliable source who is Korean (as the person who is creating this is trying so hard to do). This is an anti-Korean site that propagates itself as telling the news from Korea. I would not be surprised if this site was created by some right-wing, cyber-Japanese homeless person who has some type of grudge against S. Korea.

  • kangaji
    4:02 pm on August 1st, 2012 25

    #24: That’s a very bold conclusion. Good luck with that.

  • DMZDave
    4:30 pm on August 1st, 2012 26

    Years ago I detailed my own story on this site of being caught up in the Korean system as a result of lending assistance at the site of a hit and run in Itaewon. A number of Korean bystanders assumed that I must have been responsible or why else would I have involved myself in providing first aid? There were literally 5 or 6 adult Koreans who came forward,said they had seen the whole thing, pointed at me, lied through their teeth and told a policeman that had seen me run over the child and try to flee. Here I was, a trained medic who had seen a Taxi run over a child and tried to lend assistance and next thing I knew I was being beaten – very literally beaten. It was unreal. I was able to extricate myself because I speak Korean and at the time was working for a Korean 4-star but the experience left me shaken and deeply suspicious of any official or press account of the alleged wrongdoing by a foreigner. On the other side of the coin, I had strong professional relationships among my peers in the Korean Army with whom I served for 5 years before the incident and found that for the most part my colleagues were very disciplined, honest and honorable. And to their credit most of my colleagues were horrified to learn what had happened to me.

  • guitard
    4:53 pm on August 1st, 2012 27

    DMZDave wrote:

    And to their credit most of my colleagues were horrified to learn what had happened to me.

    They weren’t really horrified when they learned what had happened to you . . . they were all just acting like they were horrified . . . in other words . . . they were lying too . . .

  • Tom
    5:00 pm on August 1st, 2012 28

    #26, I can make up stories too. Actually anyone can. It only proves liars aren’t exactly only Koreans. :lol:

  • guitard
    5:23 pm on August 1st, 2012 29

    Tom wrote:

    I can make up stories too. Actually anyone can. It only proves liars aren’t exactly only Koreans.

    In other words . . . Canadians also lie.

  • kangaji
    5:24 pm on August 1st, 2012 30

    #28: Wait, does this mean you aren’t Chinese?

  • IHK
    3:23 am on August 20th, 2012 31

    Because they are dog eaters. Korean prostitutes in the West (US, CAN, AUS & EU) will ask pensions as compensations in the future. Prostitutes will claim the Western countries trafficked though they come and do business on their OWN will.

  • fire
    8:20 pm on September 2nd, 2012 32

    Koreans are ”Hwabyeong or Hwabyung” that can be seen only amongst Korean races.

  • jfeis59592
    10:14 pm on September 2nd, 2012 33

    IHK and FIRE, please just FOAD, cretins….

  • Caroline
    6:30 pm on September 18th, 2012 34

    It is true that Koreans lie all the time, all my friends who taught French in South Korea told me Koreans lies quite often.

  • Bobby Ray
    9:23 pm on September 18th, 2012 35

    What did them Koreans do, Caroline? Did they say them Francophone are some of the most considerate and humble people they ever had the pleasure of meeting?

  • 【【在日】「在日100年の歴史」をテーマにした劇…差別と抑圧、笑い盛 り込んで表現[09/16]】この劇を観た女(無知?)が完全に洗 脳されてたけどw日本人の子供の教育に在日 朝鮮人の様
    11:05 pm on September 18th, 2012 36

    [...] Tagged Under : w日本人, テーマ, 劇, 在日, 在日100年, 女, 子供, 差別, 抑圧, 教育, 日本破壊活, 朝鮮人, 様, 歴史, 洗, 笑い盛, 脳, 表現 tweetmeme_style = 'compact';tweetmeme_url='';【【在日】「在日100年の歴史」をテーマにした劇…差別と抑圧、笑い盛 り込んで表現[09/16]】この劇を観た女(無知?)が完全に洗 脳されてたけどw日本人の子供の教育に在日 朝鮮人の様 々な日本破壊活… / [...]

  • Arthur Kennedy
    7:26 pm on November 8th, 2012 37

    Koreans often lie because they want to believe they are supeiror to others, while their real history, in fact, demonstrates almost nothing proud of.

    Korea(entire peninsula) had been a slave country of China for more than 1000 years until Japan defeated China in 1895.

    Many Korean citizens were real slaves of their own kingdom. Before the annexation(1910-1945) by Japan, their society had a real slavery system. A certain class of citizens were treated as real slaves.

    The situation is similar to that in North Korea today.
    South Koreans = North Koreans in DNA. They are the same race.

    Japan banned the old fuedal customs because they became Japanese citizens in 1910.

    South Koreans really want to hide these miserable facts.
    The real Korea was not indutrialized at all, had a very bad fuedal system, and was very weak country in 19th century.

    On the other hand, they claim Korea has 5000 year long history. They want to belive the major civilization started in the peninsula before China.

    Unfortunately, poor Korean citizens are brainwashed by their govenment. As everyone knows, in order to hide one lie, people have to tell another lie and to keep doing the same.
    Koreans, in general, think that deceiving others is not bad thing.

    That’s why their plagiarism and fabrication are quite common and even Koreans admit it.
    “Plagiarism Imperiling South Korea’s Academic Reputation by Steve Herman June 05, 2012″

    “Korean Scientist Said to Admit Fabrication in a Cloning Study By NICHOLAS WADE December 16, 2005″

  • Jessica
    12:29 pm on March 17th, 2013 38

    If you find yourself in hot water in Korea, as I did, you will be astounded at the pervasiveness of lying. In my personal experience, Koreans will always lie to protect other Koreans and Korea’s international image.

    Last fall my photo, along with gossip and slander, was posted on the Korean internet, in particular on sites that Seoulites see, since I lived in Seoul. I don’t know all of the contributers, but since it started the day after I quit my Korean language class, it is probable that a hagwon employee started it. As a result I was harassed in public by Koreans I didn’t know and my reputation was ruined. Most Koreans, including my university students, lost respect for me. Every Korean I turned to for assistance played dumb and lied to me, saying that they didn’t know anything and had no idea how to find information on the Korean internet. They effectively kept my traumatizing experience a secret from foreigners living in Korea who don’t understand Korean language (which is the overwhelming majority among English teachers).

    I have never been so shocked and disgusted by peoples’ (non-violent) behavior. It was so base that people from English-speaking countries cannot even believe that other human beings from a relatively developed country would act in such ways.

  • G.I. G.I. Joe
    4:39 pm on March 17th, 2013 39

    Koreans will always lie to protect other Koreans and Korea’s international image.

    In Korea, truthful speech is not protected, and lies are. There is an absolute insanity here.

    I have heard similar horror stories, and what’s worse is the Koreans who simply stand by or even pile on.

    As many have noted, Koreans would never side with a foreigner over a Korean. There is no sense of right, wrong, or greater good; there’s only Korean nationalism.

    The problem from the foreigner and American side is that our institutions do nothing to protect or even warn us out of a desire not to offend the Koreans.

    Specifically, the American Embassy needs to change its advisory back to the one that warned against taking employment in Korea

  • Obama's Speech Coach
    4:52 pm on March 17th, 2013 40

    Koreans don’t have a corner on the market, as they say–even if there are far too many examples of “let’s gang up on the foreigner”…

    We should all try to set a good example for those around us; and not bash back…

  • TheKorean
    5:37 pm on March 17th, 2013 41

    [Deleted by Moderator - Sock Puppet]

  • Baek In-je
    6:52 pm on March 17th, 2013 42

    There is a video over at the Baek, In-je show that details some of the very very very many lies that I have been told/have been told about me. Have a looksee.

  • Kevin
    9:28 am on April 10th, 2013 43

    I am trying hard to disprove this theory (that they lie a lot), but have not been able to. I have been in the semiconductor field since 1995, and I have an abundance of anecdotal information which says they blatantly lie. This is not white lies. My current company is Korean, and the Korean management lies. We broke a customers part, and instead of telling them, we back-dated the part in the system to make it look like it just arrived, then we rejected it at Incoming Receiving, saying it arrived broken. And apparently this has been done hundreds of times. So this goes beyond white lies and common Sales practices. And it is also an insult to any engineer who’s trying to solve a problem.

    I’m having a hard time not coming to the conclusion that Koreans have no problem maliciously lying to protect themselves from confrontation and being held accountable for mistakes. This is a problem in that the field of engineering is about learning from your mistakes and improving a product. If you sweep mistakes under the rug, you never improve.

    I would love to see other evidence. Yes lying may be a problem in all countries, but in my 18 yrs in semiconductor, I’ve never seen one culture so disrespectful and deceiptful.


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