Excellent Examples of "Saving Face"

I'm No Picasso has an excellent post about the concept of "saving face" in Korea, supplemented with great, specific examples. A sample:
The biggest catalyst to my beginning to understand, come to terms with, and even sort of like face saving was meeting my old main co teacher. Why? Because she was fucking excellent at it. ... A good example of this was when a friend of mine sent me a message on Monday telling me that her coworker's father had passed away, and she knew she was supposed to give money, but she didn't know how much was appropriate to give, and would I please ask my coworkers. ... I asked my old co. Head Teacher jumped in before she could answer and said that 30,000 won was enough.

I saw it all over my old co's face -- that wasn't the right answer, in her opinion. I could see her struggling with how to handle the situation. She glanced up at me over the cubicle and made a slight face. Then she turned to Head Teacher and, in Korean, explained that even though 30,000 won was probably enough for us public school teachers, because there are a lot of us, don't you think private school teachers should give a bit more? Since there are not as many of them in an office. Old co knew that I would understand this in Korean. Head Teacher probably assumed that I wouldn't.

Head Teacher shot her down. No. Thirty thousand won is plenty. My old co glanced at me again to make sure that I was listening and understanding, and then she said, in Korean, I think more like fifty thousand or even more might be better in that situation, but I don't really know.... I'm just guessing.

Head Teacher stood by her answer. My old co shot me one last look. And then she dropped it. For all that Head Teacher knew, I hadn't caught any of this. But my old co had successfully corrected the situation for me, without calling Head Teacher out directly.
The Korean will be addressing this concept sooner or later also, but this is a terrific explanation. Please go read the whole thing.

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