Monday, May 12, 2014


I turned in my editing this past Friday and didn't hear from my potential employer until today. While I was in the middle of an afternoon class, my phone made the little defecating noise that I've assigned to arriving emails. I risked a peek, saw it was from Metatron, and forced myself to wait until class was over to read it.

Cutting to the chase, then: Metatron has spoken, and its answer is a polite no. While that's disappointing, it's also not surprising. It could well be that I made a few mistakes while editing that huge document. There's also the issue of competition: I wasn't the only one applying for this position, which put the odds against me. It could also be that Metatron's rejection email was telling the truth. Let's talk a bit about that email.

I said it was "a polite no." In fact, it has to be one of the politest rejections I've ever received from anyone, be it from a company or from a woman. I can't repeat the email here, word for word, because that would make the thing too easy to Google. So instead, I'll offer a bullet-point summary. Au fond:

• There was no mention of how I did with my editing—no critiques, nothing. The email began with "We have taken a look..." but not a look at my work, apparently: it was a look at Metatron's own budget. According to the email, Metatron doesn't have the budget (the "resources") for a full-time managing-editor position.
• This state of affairs is subject to change in future. For the moment, Metatron regrets that it must pass up the chance to bring me on as a staffer.
• If this is agreeable, Metatron wishes me to stay in contact as a possible consultant for freelance proofing/editing work.
• Such work would be paid on a per-project basis.
• Metatron wishes me best of luck with all future endeavors.

COMMENTARY: The rejection is formulated as a classic breakup note: "It's not you, love: it's me." Metatron is placing itself at fault for not having foreseen the tightness of its budget. How true or plausible is this? I'd say not very: Metatron is a rich company, given the property it owns and its location near Gwanghwamun in Seoul. I seriously doubt that the editing position suddenly became unavailable because of an unforeseen budget shortfall. The other alternative is that Metatron just wants to spare my feelings. Is that because my editing sucked? It would be depressing to find out that I was not enough of a language Nazi when it mattered.

Metatron's statement that things may be "subject to change" later on is a politic way of saying "Don't give up hope quite yet. Yes, we've kicked you in the nuts, but if you manage to stand, you have the chance to be kicked in the nuts again, which is character-building." Upshot: I can probably re-apply for the position later, which may imply that I didn't completely fuck up the editing job I'd been given.

Lastly, there's the offer of freelance work. I'm not sure how to take this. On the one hand, it seems to mean that Metatron found my work of sufficient quality that the company might use my services in a time of need. On the other hand, in offering me the possibility of freelance work without revealing anything more specific or substantive, Metatron has committed itself to nothing, which is no different, practically speaking, from an outright rejection.

So all in all, I think I got the boot in the politest way possible. I'll say this for the company: it's classy, and it's obvious that it traffics in the realm of international politics. Seeming to offer something without actually committing to anything is about as politician-worthy a move as a company can make. For what it's worth, it was interesting, for a time, for me to see how the big boys operate. Working at Metatron would have meant working in a completely different business climate and culture from the one I've gotten used to. I'm glad to at least have had a glimpse of the stratosphere.



John said...

Did I just here the sound of a door opening somewhere else? In my experience, every job I didn't get set me up for something better down the road. Of course it was only in looking back that I understood my good fortune.

King Baeksu said...

"I'll say this for the company: it's classy, and it's obvious that it traffics in the realm of international politics."

Classy to string you along and basically waste your time because they're too flaky and not very serious either about what they're doing, or what they're telling you?

I'd say you dodged a bullet. Who'd want to work with people who can't shoot straight with you? Would you really entrust your future and livelihood to people like that?

Hope they at least offered to pay for your KTX tickets. It's the least they could do.

Kevin Kim said...


Metatron did offer to pay for my next trip up to Seoul... but now, that point is moot. I thought the company had been straightforward; as I mentioned to a different commenter, it's likely that any misunderstanding was on my end, not Metatron's.

And as I'm sure you noticed, regarding the excerpt of my text that you quoted, I was making something of a two-pronged remark that was both complimentary and not so complimentary.

Kevin Kim said...


I'll concede that Metatron could have been more forthcoming about salary. I had put the question baldly to my interviewers and had hoped for an equally frank answer. That didn't happen.


Here's hoping.

King Baeksu said...

Oh, and I forgot they made you work a whole day for free last Friday. I seriously hope they didn't do that knowing full well that they were never going to make you an offer. WTF?

Kevin Kim said...


I appreciate the concern. For what it's worth, I chalk it all up to experience. No wasted moments. Live and learn. As the proverb goes:

거거거중지 행행행리각
去去去中知 行行行裏覺

(See here.)

King Baeksu said...

The role of foundations and think tanks in shaping policy and popular opinion around the world is often ignored or overlooked by the average citizen. Five minutes of research reveals that "Metatron" was founded by an individual with a controlling stake in one of South Korea's largest chaebols, and who is also a prominent lawmaker who currently belongs to the conservative Saenuri Party. That information alone suggests that its mission is to promote a pro-chaebol agenda, and we should not forget the role that the chaebols have played in suppressing Korean democracy and transferring the nation's wealth from the bottom to the top of Korean society over the years. It would be interesting to have a look at who actually bankrolls them, name by name and year by year. Their Web site does not exactly make it easy to do so, and that is probably not a coincidence.

The way they dealt with you is starting to make a lot more sense: Those chaebol boys don't play around, and certainly don't have much time or consideration for the Average Cho.

Charles said...

Seems like less of a kick in the nuts and more of a Lucy-pulls-the-football-away-at-the-last-second kind of thing. I might be a little wary the next time I was offered a shot at a kickoff.

Sperwer said...

I see KB is just making shit up again. If he had done even a smidgen of actual research he would have discovered that the organization in question, while decidedly "conservative" in orientation, is hardly a captive cheerleader for Korean chaebol.

King Baeksu said...

The good thing about you, Sperwer, is that you're at least consistent.

I didn't name the think tank because I wanted to respect Kevin's evident desire to remain discreet on his blog, and thus my comments here are somewhat circumscribed. Nevertheless, I am well aware of the founder's economic interests in North Korea, for example, which are described in the institute's introduction as seeking to promote "peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as Korean reunification." I could go much deeper into that mission statement, but let's just say for now that there's more to it than just lollipops and rainbows.

In any case, you, too, agree that it's "conservative in orientation" -- i.e., pro-big business -- so I'm not sure why you're so vociferous in denouncing me, except perhaps that once again you're making this thread all about me and your personal feelings about my person. I wonder if I should actually be flattered?

Like I said, at least you're consistent!

Kevin Kim said...

OK, gents... I'm not going to let my demesne turn into the Marmot's Hole. Comments closed.