Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald McConville
McCONVILLE: The Koreans I found to be - and this was the reputation they had with these people as well - they were extraordinarily tough negotiators but also very pragmatic in the end. You could strike a deal with them. You probably would have to go on and on and on through the nights and have a number of sessions, but in the end they understood strength and they would squeeze you for as much as they thought they could squeeze you. The Koreans are, behind their somewhat stoic facade, a very emotional people, and you had to be careful to be sure that you respected their dignity and that you didn't offend them, but at the same time they understood and appreciated hard-nosed negotiating tactics. Once you struck a deal with them, they kept the deal. Again, if they could find any sort of loophole at all, they would take advantage. If you had some kind of power over them to be able to punish them in some way or other, they would not be happy about that but they would respect it. Now, if you were too crass in the way you exercised this power, they could get highly offended, and they were capable of cutting off their nose to spite their face, if it was something that deeply offended them. But at the same time, if you wielded this pressure in a way that they recognized it was there, they knew that you would use it, they would take it right up to the point where they felt they had gotten as far as they could, then they would strike the deal and they wouldn't be offended by it, they would feel that was the way you do business. It was an exceptional experience for me that was to pay off a lot in my subsequent career.
Q: I was wondering whether the negotiators had to keep going back for instructions.