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Asia

Why are the Chinese a more materialistic people than that of the Western brethren?

Developing countries tend to be more materialistic than developed countries. This is because in a poorer society with a lot of population, there are very few ways to stand out and prove your worth.

One of the easiest ways to ‘prove’ that you are higher social status is to buy expensive clothes or electronics or a car/house – because those are hard to afford for most of the population. So being able to purchase those things is an indicator of wealth and status. And higher status means more benefits, access to better networks and connections to more powerful people etc.

In a developed society, the middle class is already wealthy enough to afford most of the things that a developing society would consider ‘status symbols’. Therefore even if you buy a fancy Lexus or Mercedes or expensive Chanel bag or iPhone it doesn’t really have as much as impact on your status as it would in a developing society. In a rich neighborhood, who cares if you own a Tesla or Lexus? So what? does it make you a better person?

In developed societies, increase in your social status comes almost purely from merit – you have to be really earn your higher status either through being an entrepeneur or getting a promotion or being able to network well with people. Just buying expensive stuff isn’t really going to get you anywhere in society.

This is also why in poorer communities in the US, especially black communities (because more blacks are impoverished on average), they tend to show off or brag more about the things they own. Whereas if you are Bill Gates or Warren Buffet for example they don’t really care what they wear or what they own anymore. They wear $30 sweaters from Ross and Marshalls. At that level of wealth it doesn’t matter what you own anymore. This is also how you know that Donald Trump probably isn’t really all that rich – or he is really insecure – if he feels the need to show off or brag all the time.

So being materialistic is not really exclusive to China. Chinese people just seem the most prominent conspicuous consumers out there because there are so many of them. But I think its a sign their middle class isn’t fully developed yet to a point where most people would be able to afford these luxuries. Thus creating the demand for status symbols. India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Africa, Middle East etc in these places I would also presume buying expensive items to be an indicator of your social status.

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Asia

Is Wagyu (Japanese beef) or Hanwoo (Korean beef) better?

Depends on what you like. I’ve had both. In general A5 Japanese Wagyu is far more expensive and the meat is far more tender than Hanwoo beef. Eating A5 Wagyu is almost like eating the beef version of Foie Gras due to the way it melts in your mouth.

Hanwoo beef tends to be somewhat similar to American Wagyu in my experience – it has the chewy ‘beef’ flavor but with markedly more tenderness than the typical American steak – halfway between an Angus steak and a Japanese Wagyu steak – and the fat/marbling content is usually right in between these two as well.

I haven’t had the chance to directly compare these side by side though. There are a few Korean restaurants where they do serve Australian Wagyu and Hanwoo – and the Hanwoo is more than double the price (probably to take advantage of Korean nationalistic tendencies to eat their native domestic beef)

I mean this to me is absurd. Australian Wagyu sirloin at $19 and Hanwoo sirloin at $45.

 

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Asia

Why is South Korea more advanced and successful than China?

The premise is debatable. Let’s take an unbiased look at the achievements of each country in the last 20 years:

China since 1999:

-Has lifted millions out of poverty

-Sustained enormous YoY GDP growth under Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping

-Hosted their first Olympics

-Rose up to surpass Japan as the world’s second largest economy

-Has technologically caught up to both Japan and SK with high speed bullet trains, 5G wireless technology and smartphone technology

-Now has the world’s second largest military budget after the USA

-Dominated the economically developing world with initiatives in SE asia, middle east + africa with the 1B1R initiative

-Owns a significant portion of the Hollywood industry: Legendary Pictures for example is wholly owned by a Chinese company

-Boasts the world’s second largest tech startup scene after Silicon Valley in the USA

-Has the world’s second most billionaires after the USA

-Chinese brands like Lenovo, Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, ZTE, DJI, Hisense, etc have risen up and overtaken Korean/Japanese brands

-Approval rate of Xi Jinping at over 85%

-China global approval rating has surpassed the USA China’s global approval rating has surpassed the U.S.

South Korea since 1999:

-GDP/capita remains the fourth highest in Asia, after Singapore, Japan and ROC (Taiwan)

-Economy was hugely impacted by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis; since then the economy has been growing but at a far slower rate than China has

-Technology wise, Samsung and LG have overtaken Japanese brands Sharp, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Pioneer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, NEC etc and essentially pushed them out of the market. Hyundai and Kia have caught up to Toyota, Honda and Nissan with regards to quality perception.

-Continues to develop great public infrastructure, the fastest internet speeds in the world and free public wifi anywhere Every public place in Seoul will have free WiFi by 2017

-Minimum wage increased but unemployment rate, especially for the youth, continues to lag behind other developed countries

-Startup scene in South Korea is still quite anemic due to the remnants of the conservative Chaebol culture which continues to dominate the South Korea work industry; this makes it wary for investors to offer venture capital, and more difficult for small companies to compete which leads to the unemployment rate situation above

-Moon Jae In (President of SK) approval rating at a mere 45% Moon’s approval ratings at 45% after 2 years in office – Koreans have rarely sustained high approval ratings for their Presidents due to corruption, scandals, and the generally more conservative society

-Korean entertainment scene has exploded and KPop and KDramas and ‘Hallyu’ has made Korea into one of the most popular entertainment juggernauts in the world

So back to the OP’s question, is South Korea really more advanced and successful than China? Perhaps in only a few areas.

-GDP/Capita -> China is catching up on this front, but the reason SK had a huge head start is because they had a market economy for 2 decades longer than China did, and because SK was one of the four East Asian Tigers (all small East Asian countries), it developed very fast in the 70s-90s, China had to struggle under the Mao era for 2 decades.

-Entertainment industry -> China’s heavy handed approach to censorship kind of handicaps them in this area, but China’s entertainment industry is mostly domestic focused. They have such a big domestic market that they don’t need to export that industry yet. South Korea on the other hand, has to export in order to survive, and they’ve perfected the art of marketing to foreigners at this point, which is why they have succeeded so well with their Hallyu industry. It’s worth to mention that China owns many Hollywood studios as well, which also means they don’t need to necessarily export their own movies; they can just leverage Hollywood movies to make money.

In the economic, business and technology sense, China has caught up and/or exceeded Korea.