Korea, Our Country (우리나라)

In my masters degree studies at Hanyang University, I have recently selected my "guide professor" (or 지도교수), who will be my mentor in completing my thesis. Professor Seo studied for his doctorate in France, specializing in the area of corporate innovation. It's really quite an interesting subject and his class last year was one of the best I've had at Hanyang University. His focused teaching method, obvious concern for his students and interesting area of speciality were all key reasons I chose to study under him.

As part of my preparation for learning about his expertise, I asked him to point me toward some of the papers he has written for various academic journals and when I went to his office, he handed over about ten for me to review during my summer vacation. It's going to be interesting to understand his perspective about corporate innovation and how it applies to the Korean business scene.

But as I began reading, the first thing that struck me from was not the innovation-related content of the papers, but the repeated references to "our country" (Korean: 우리나라) when referring to Korea. I've seen this many times before in Korean writing, so I don't mean to say Professor Seo's style is different than the norm, but that's my point. When Koreans speak and write about Korea amongst themselves, regardless of whether in common speech, in business or in high-level academics, they ordinarily refer to Korea as "our country". 

This tells me two things. First, Koreans writing in Korean don't expect non-Koreans to be an audience for what they write. Second, Koreans have quite a strong sense of belonging to "their country". 

It's never bothered me that I'm not able to identify with the Korean psyche in that way, but it does make it impossible for me to write in a fully Korean way, since even if I write in Korean, I can't use the phrase "our country". 

Perhaps, if we assume few people will read my Korean writing outside of Korea, I should use the phrase "your country" (Korean: 여러분들의 나라) instead? I think that would sound very strange. Probably I just have to say "Korea", but it is another good example of how Korean society is never fully penetrable by non-Koreans, and something that foreign businesspeople must keep in mind.

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