Welcome to www.koreaninvestigator.com
This is a place where investigators and attorneys who handle Asian-related cases can learn about key, cultural differences and cues. It’s a great place to hone your cross-cultural communication skills
Concepts and techniques detailed in www.koreaninvestigator.com will provide invaluable tools to investigators and attorneys when interacting with Korean, Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, Japanese and Chinese individuals, by providing guidance regarding spoken language and the unspoken communication of gestures and facial expressions.
This site is provided by California Licensed Private Investigator Melanie Paek, a Korean-born, naturalized American and resident of Southern California. For the past 20 years, Ms. Paek has been in demand as one of Southern California’s top private investigators and she provides to her clients the unique experience of her Korean heritage and ability to deftly navigate an array of Asian cultural traditions and differences.
“Based upon my past experience investigating cases involving Asians in criminal or civil cases, whether they be defendants, witnesses, victims or plaintiffs - - language skills and understanding of various cultures play key roles,” Ms. Paek stressed.
This is especially important when interviewing or
gathering information from Asian victims, subjects or witnesses, who may be
reluctant to get involved.
As we now live in an ever-shrinking global world, and as the U.S. continues to develop extradition treaties with other countries, it is vital to be aware of foreigners' non-verbal language cues as well as foreigners' spoken languages.
“I key into facial expressions and body language during interviews, and this is a primary reason why I find in-person interviews preferable to telephone interviews. It is easier to get more accurate impressions during face-to-face interviews, where I can observe and evaluate interviewees’ facial expressions and non-spoken body language communications,” Ms. Paek said.
It is also important to not misinterpret foreigners'
Therefore, this website endeavors to share information about cross-cultural interaction, so that investigators do not unintentionally offend anyone or be misunderstood. If investigators are aware of subtle cross-cultural differences, they can elicit more effective cooperation from witnesses, victims or suspects.
In some Asian cultures, individuals fear law enforcement and are reluctant to get involved in lawsuits or criminal cases. Some of this hesitancy can stem from concern about having U.S. citizenship status threatened, or attracting immigration problems if becoming involved with the law enforcement or legal process.
Therefore, it is critical to send Asian investigators into predominantly Asian communities to gather intelligence and approach people with cultural differences in mind. If approaching reluctant witnesses, an investigator’s ability to speak the witness’s mother tongue will help foster a comfort level conducive to a fruitful interview.
An investigator’s personality plays a major role, and that persona can be tempered to align with cultural cues delivered by a witness. When speaking to reluctant witnesses in their second language, you speak to their brain. But when you speak to them in their mother tongue, you speak to their soul.
Depending on surrounding circumstances, investigators should be aware that the person they are speaking to might be related to the subject of the investigation even though their surnames are spelled differently. For example, during the immigration process, some people’s last names were spelled “Yi,” while other relatives’ surnames were spelled “Lee,” “Rhee” or other variations of spellings, although originally it was the same surname.
This site also shares information about different body language indicators that could become important cues for investigators when trying to grasp unspoken language. Frequently, body language is more telling, and its message more accurate than spoken words. However, correct interpretation of body language also requires understanding of different cultural idiosyncracies.
Here in the U.S., we often interpret avoidance of eye contact as a sign of deceit. However, in some Asian cultures, the opposite is true -- staring at someone could be interpreted as being rude. Asians generally look at someone briefly, then break off eye contact, especially if talking to an individual regarded as having superior status – such as an older person or a teacher.
“I learned this firsthand -- when I first arrived in the U.S., I showed respect by not continuously looking directly into my teacher’s eyes. My teacher appeared to be offended and asked me to look at him,” Ms. Paek recalls. “ My teacher looked at me for so long that I felt as though he was staring, and I felt frightened.”
An American will beckon someone to “come here” by extending the index finger upward and curling the finger back toward their body. However, Koreans generally use one hand faced downward and curling the hand back toward their body. Koreans will not use an index finger to beckon “Come here” to someone older or in a superior status – to do so is considered rude and disrespectful and can present a dangerous obstacle in cultural communications.
In Chinese, Korean and Japanese cultures, greetings are performed by bowing with both arms down aligned with the body, while people from Southeast Asian countries place their hands together in front of their chest and bend down
Some Asians may fold their arms while thinking or in casual manner; however, this should not be interpreted as being defensive.
While strong handshakes indicate confidence in the U.S., this firm handshake could be interpreted as being rude in some Asian cultures and can be interpreted as trying to dominate or overpower the other party.
“Although I reside in the U.S., one American attorney bowed to me during our first introduction. I immediately felt a rapport because his bowing to me told me a lot about his attitude sincerity, humility and philosophy. This one act told me a lot about him and he immediately gained my trust. My subconscious mind was bonded to him. If he had been an investigator, this simple act of respect would have made me comfortable enough to share any information.
Investigators should ask if they should remove their shoes when visiting Asian homes for interviews.
Typically, Chinese people like to stand near each other when speaking, while Japanese maintain more distance.
Koreans try not to cross one leg over the other when sitting down in presence of an older person or someone in a higher position, such as a boss. To do so would be a sign of disrespect and arrogance.
To Japanese, nodding or saying “Yes” does not signify agreement - - it merely indicates “I am listening to what you’re saying.
For Koreans, touching children on the head or patting them on the back is acceptable.
When Koreans hand an object to an older person or boss, they use both hands to grasp the object – indicating respect.
In closing, I hope you find this website helpful and will be able to use these concepts when investigating overseas in Asian countries or investigating and interviewing Asians in the U.S.
(c) COPYRIGHT 2012. GORDIAN INVESTIGATIONS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
DISCLAIMER. CA LIC PI 22041