Mitch, who is from Los Angeles, says he hit upon the idea when it finally dawned on him that most professional social contact in Korea was superficial, just like in his home town, and drawing from a number of movies as inspiration, decided to create a passive replacement Mitch who could attend the tedious yet socially obligatory Korean meetings - often outside official hours - that he would otherwise have to endure.
"To be, like honest and everything, I expected to be like, totally found out after like, you know, a day or two." he explained. But it didn't happen. Mitch wasn't able to completely replace himself, as he had to continue to teach classes during the daytime, but he became suspicious that his plan was working better than expected when colleagues began to complement him on his more positive attitude towards meetings - previously he had been frequently admonished for fidgeting, not agreeing with his bosses and speaking his mind during the enforced gatherings.
"I'm like, totally you know like glad and everything now that I didn't like run with my first idea which was just to have like a cardboard cut-out of myself." This was probably a good idea – 57-year-old Seoul International University Psychology Professor Kim told us "Even though many Koreans see foreigners as rather two-dimensional, psychologists agree that while the human brain can often trick a person into seeing what they want to see, it is not always successful at visually creating whole new dimensions. If it was, people might realize they are actually living in a computer simulation."
Mitch decided to speak out after his company nominated him for the inaugural 'Ideal Foreigner Award' which the Government has launched in order to encourage non-Korean residents to integrate further into Korean society and stop speaking out. "It's like, gone too far", he accepted. But despite his admission, many of his co-workers have refused to believe that Mitch wasn't at the meetings. His boss said he has a distinct recollection of Mitch agreeing with many of his ideas, and a female colleague even claims they even went on a date together secretly following one after-work meeting. "He was a good listener", she admitted, "but I'm sure I would have noticed if he hadn't been real." Mitch told us that he had used the dummy "once-or-twice" for dates with Korean girls, although he refused to be drawn on exactly which ones.
Now his company is aware of the existence of his stand-in, Mitch says he'll have to stop using it and return to attending meetings in person. But he is faced with months of unraveling the life that 'Dummy Mitch' created.
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