13. Face in the holistic and relativistic society
Tae-Seop Lim [+]
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
In Korea, face is influenced by not only the relationship between the partners but also their relative positions in broader social networks or the whole society. Thus, people of different genders, ages, and statuses have different types and degrees of face need. Furthermore, the concept of face is highly differentiated so that faces of people of different social standings are often referred to with different terms. Che-myun is used for grown-ups or in more formal situations; Naht and Ul-gul are used for young adults or in less formal situations; Mo-yahng-sae is used among people of high status in a formal situation; Che-Mo and Che-Sihn are used for older adults; and Myun-Mohk is used by those who failed to meet the expectations of others. All these terms, however, share the same basic meaning: the dignified public image that one has to sustain to function properly as the occupant of the particular position in the society. To understand Korean concept of face more accurately, one needs to look into the relativistic way of life in Korea, and its ideological basis, the holistic worldview.