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Kibun 
4th-Feb-2007 07:13 pm
Dilbert
human12, can you explain a little bit the Korean (Chinese, Japanese?) concept of "kibun" ("gibun")? It seems it has a lot to do with how UBFKoreans behave, but we have never discussed this thing in detail, and we non-Koreans may not properly understand what it is.
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5th-Feb-2007 04:46 am (UTC)
I think you mean this one.

The Korean online dictionary defines it this way:

기분(氣分) (명사) : 대상·환경 따위에 따라 마음에 절로 생기며 한동안 지속되는, 유쾌함이나 불쾌함 따위의 감정

I can translate it in the following way:

gibun(氣分) (noun) : feeling, lasting for sometime, either pleasant or unpleasant prompted spantaneously in heart according to environment and objects.

gibun in Korean is written as 기분. In Chinese it is written as 氣分.

氣 is written in Korean as '기'(gi) and 分 as '분'(bun).
means 기운. There was a Chinese school of philosophy based on the idea that every thing in this world works according to 氣. The school tried to explain physical charateristics and personality of a human being based on what kind of 氣--the fundamental energy, strengh or force--the person possessed. Some people still believe that they can change the 氣 inside them in order to improve their health or emotional/mental welfare through meditation or some kind of martial arts practice.

As you can guess, a lot of things that UBF Korean missionaries use to help their sheep to have 'spirit' through divine training are related to the practices of improving 氣. For example, if you go to TaeKwonDo school, you will find that TaeKwonDo masters make their students to shout/scream. This is called 기합. This is very similar to UBF messegers shouting to practice their message. 氣 is somtimes considered by some people 'spirit'. You might have heard in UBF something like 'you have not spirit' or 'you need fighting spirit'. In such cased, having 'spirit' might mean 'having 氣'. So a lot of UBF training has to do with 'improving one's 氣' more than living according to the Holy Spirit. If you read Bonn UBF messages, you will find so many times they use 'fighting spirit'. They most likely refer to 'improving fighting 氣'.

Ok, now back to 기분. 分(분) means 'divide' or 'distinguish'.

So in Chinese 氣分(기분) means energy divided(?). I guess you have ask this one to your Chinese friend. But 氣 can also affect one's emotion and feeling.
5th-Feb-2007 04:53 am (UTC)
5th-Feb-2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the explanations. It is interesting that you emphasize the aspect of "spirit" and how the Korean gibun is used as a kind of replacement for the Holy Spirit. My understanding was that gibun had more to do with pride and the idea of having "face." These connotations seem so unconnected to me, but for a Korean they are probably connected.

Here is an interesting article that says "The importance of kibun for Korean people should never be underestimated."

Another summary taken from here:

The Concept of Kibun

• Kibun is a word with no literal English translation; the closest terms are pride, face, mood, feelings, or state of mind.
• If you hurt someone’s kibun you hurt their pride, cause them to lose dignity, and lose face. Korean interpersonal relationships operate on the principle of harmony.
• It is important to maintain a peaceful, comfortable atmosphere at all times, even if it means telling a “white lie”.
• Kibun enters into every facet of Korean life.
• It is important to know how to judge the state of someone else’s kibun, how to avoid hurting it, and how to keep your own kibun at the same time.
• In business, a manager’s kibun is damaged if his subordinates do not show proper respect. A subordinate’s kibun is damaged if his manager criticizes him in public.
• Nunchi is the ability to determine another person’s kibun by using the eye.
• Since this is a culture where social harmony is crucial, being able to judge another person’s state of mind is critical to maintain the person’s kibun.
• Nunchi is accomplished by watching body language and listening to the tone of voice as well as what is said.
6th-Feb-2007 03:39 am (UTC)
They are very interesting articles. I think the following analysis is quite true:

"In future, look for more on this from me. Kibun is only one of the six controlling concepts of the Korean psyche : chemyeon, neunchi, kibun, bunuiki, jeong and han, and the interplay between these guiding forces is what makes Koreans so unique, and, at times, so difficult for the non-Korean to understand."

I also think that those six Korean psyche are very prevalent in Korean society. But they don't seem to have been developed in the tradition of Korean rationality. For example, if one has a very good kibun, he could buy a big mac to a complete stranger or he might go on and do even more than that. If you go to Korea, you will see a lot of girls walking hands in hands. In USA or other European countries, it is considered weird because they might be misunderstood as lesbians. But in Korea, it is considered very good because they have a lot of jeong (정). You will see a lot of physical contacts among friends, especially among same-sex friends. In Korea friendship is a kind of jeong (정). So a lot of physical contacts means a log of jeong (정). But this is prohibited among friends of opposite sex.

You might have experience this when you were in UBF. You are invited to a Korean missionary's house. He asks you "Do you want to dringk something?" According to Korean psyche, you are supposed to say "No, thank you. I am ok." for at least, I say, three times. Because you have to maintain your chemyeon (체면) even though you really feel thirsty and would appreciate a cold drink. If you say "Oh, please. I am really thirsty.", then you lost your chemyen and you will be considered vulgar in Korea. In the meantime, the Korean missionary who invited you will strongly insist that you should accept a cold drink even though you really don't want. Why? Because doing so would make him look that he has a lot of jeong (정). If the missionary stops asking to offer you a cold drink after you decline once, in Korea he would be considered cruel (매정한) and hurt your kibun. So that is why in Korea sometimes "No" does not mean "No" and "Yes" does not mean "Yes". Maybe that is also why UBF Korean missionaries keep calling a student even though he/she clearly refuses to be involved in UBF. They might think that the students said "No" out of their chemyeon (체면). This practice is clearly not rational. But Korean rationality developed throughout history is much different form Western rationality.
6th-Feb-2007 09:00 am (UTC)
Maybe that's also why the UBF Koreans consider other life-forms as inferior, because they don't understand all these subtleties of hemyeon, neunchi, kibun, bunuiki, jeong and han, and act in a more straightforward manner? What we consider to be honest and integer (saying yes if you mean yes and no if you mean no) they may consider "primitive" or "disrespectful"? Anyway, I think the non-complicated behavior is a lot more Christian-like. Didn't Jesus say our Yes/No should be a Yes/No and we should be as simple as children? So I think Koreans should question these values and concepts after they become Christians, but it seems they rather do it the other way around, putting these values on top of Christian values, believing they are more perfect Christians by following these patterns while in reality they are often perverting the Christian values. Another problem is that the naive students invited by a Korean does not even *know* about all this stuff. Shouldn't a Korean get rid of all of this at least when he works as a missionary in a different culture? But it seems the other way round again, the UBF missionaries kind of try to teach the students exactly these values.
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