What culture shocks have you experienced while visiting or living in South Korea?

I found the lack of gender equality there pretty appalling. I’m no feminist – and I frankly find feminism in Western countries to be a bit of a joke – but Korea really needs more feminism.

It’s not even close. Korean women really get the short end of the stick here. Not just wages either – the way men act and women act there is straight out of the 1950s USA. Lots of housewives expected to stay at home and be seen but not heard, doing the majority of housework and child rearing. Men are expected to make all the major decisions and be the major breadwinner. Domestic abuse is common. Sexual assault and rape are the most common violent crimes. Cheating is widely tolerated. 2nd highest amount of prostitutes per capita. Abortion is illegal (unlike Japan). Women are objectified constantly – see kpop groups for a good example. Women get pressured to quit their jobs after they get pregnant. Women are pressure to wear makeup everyday because its ‘manners’ (guys are not subject to same requirement). Straight out of the 1950s. Unlike China and Western countries, the jobs here are gender separated. Certain roles are only done by women and certain roles only done by men. Taxi drivers? Always men. Hair Salon? Always women.

I find it shocking that a country which is top 10 in the world in GDP and #2 in Asia in terms of GDP/capita is so behind when it comes to treating women with respect. Many guys drag girls to a motel after drinking heavily. On the subway many girls would just be standing in their high heels – the guys there don’t give them their seat at all like they would in Canada. I did feel bad for them – these girls probably have to wear those high heels all day every day – so I often gave up my seat for them if I had a chance. I also find it odd that Korean guys complain about having to pay for women on dates – not only is that a standard thing to do in other countries – but cmon guys… the women make 60% of your salary the least you can do is pay for her. I made sure to pay for all my dates without complaints.

Given this, I find it funny and ironic that so many kpop/kdrama fangirls want to move to korea and date Korean men, most of them from China (the best Asian country for a girl IMO) ironically.

For rich people and foreigners its not that bad. For college age students, it might be pretty good. Nightlife is great and you can party all night. However, if you are a native Korean of any other age, it’s pretty stressful. As any Korean can attest:

-from middle school onwards, students are constantly studying. Usually up to 10pm to 11pm most days at a cram school. Even after high school people still study to get into companies or graduate school. Studying is a Korean national pasttime. I see cafes open at 3 am in the morning full of students at the tables. English is often a pre-requisite to apply for any big company (even if they aren’t expected to speak it at work) – and often other languages like Chinese and Japanese are studied to just to get a leg up on the competition.

-work culture sucks. Your boss can discriminate based on your race, sex and appearance. Your boss can interfere with your personal life. You cannot go against your boss. Sexual harassment is common in Korea and unlike the US you can’t easily sue because of it. You are expected to work overtime – sometimes until 11pm, sometimes until 2am. Often you have to work weekends. You aren’t supposed to leave work until your boss does. You are expected to drink with your boss if he offers yet still show up on time the next day. You don’t get much maternal leave when you get pregnant – you can possibly get fired if the company thinks you will spend too much time on your kid – and paternal leave is next to nonexistent. If you get older and cannot get promoted to a manager you are expected to retire early to avoid the social awkwardness of reporting to someone younger than you. And on top of that the salary isn’t that great. I had a friend who literally finished at 4am everyday, came home to shower, and went straight back to work. You can literally die of overwork.

-men and women (but especially women) are expected to look perfect whenever they go outside. Appearance is so valued in South Korea that plastic surgery is often done just to have a better chance to get a job (so think about that next time you criticize Korean girls for being ‘fake’). Women are constantly checking their makeup in the mirror (even high school girls). And after they marry they are still expected to take care of the household duties. Abortion is still officially illegal (this despite that Korean men drug + rape women but don’t consider it rape). It’s especially difficult in South Korea to be a woman which is why the marriage rates and birth rates are declining.

If I had to sum it up in one word its competition. This is both the strength and weakness of South Korea. Yes – South Koreans have a lot to be proud of. They have one of the most popular entertainment industries in the world. Beautiful women are everywhere to be seen. The nightlife is incomparable. Samsung is the largest IT company in the world. They have the best esports gamers in the world. All this from a country about the same size as Ohio.

However, there are many dark sides to this light, and often average Koreans have to suffer from birth to death because of it.. which is why young Koreans refer to their country as ‘Hell Joseon’. Their country has the highest suicide rate in the OECD for a good reason.

Business General Music Politics School/Work

Global trends, Equality and Financial Situations

I’ve just watched the Obama Deception, you can view it here:

[tubepress video=”eAaQNACwaLw”]

The premise of the Obama Deception is a conspiracy theory related to the New World Order. Now I know America has been the home to countless conspiracy theorists regarding everything from the Federal Reserve to JFK to 9/11, but this video I thought was done pretty convincingly. It’s a subject that I’ve thought about before, that the world is becoming more global and as it becomes more global, more organizations are built to communicate with other organizations. This creates the atmosphere for the ‘world government’ view that a globalist agenda is ultimately bad for society because of the same reason that big federal government is a bad thing: it has too much power and jeopardizes the freedom and liberty of citizens. I’m gonna go further with this with a rant about equality because I think it’s related:

Society and equality

Alot of people want to contribute to society, they set up foundations, they volunteer and donate to help the poor and disadvantaged.
I have several observations on society in general, and they are that:
1) Population continues to increase and life expectancy increases
2) Because of this contributing, equality also increases
3) Competition increases as a result of the population and equality increases.

Equality may seem fair but I think that it actually does some harm as well. In this recession, where the unemployment rate hovers around 10%,
the last thing we need is more competition. Because of population, life expectancy and equality, more people are getting educated.
Have you noticed the admissions rate for top US universities are getting lower each year? That’s because there’s more admissions each year,
as international students from China and India which are becoming more competitive keep applying. More admissions + Same student space at top universities = greater more competitive admission pool = less admissions.

At the same time, more people are getting bachelor’s degrees. I don’t even need to cite a statistic I think this is quite obvious.
The more bachelor’s degrees, the more employers are going to have to look for extra credentials. In this day and age, just a
bachelor’s degree is hardly impressive. In order to compete, you need some high GPA/ lots of work exp/research exp/leadership exp/etc
Those days when parents thought their kids can get a good job with just a university degree is over.
Therefore I believe the problem is that there’s too much competition, especially in the Western world.

The solution is that there needs to be population control and a maintaining of social order. Americans have priviledges that many countries don’t.
This can only exist when there’s a social order. I recognize the need to help starving families in Africa and India but if everyone were equal, then
no one could have priviledge and capitalism cannot exist. This is the same argument Democrats and Republicans are making. Democrats are for
equality and ‘socialism’ to an extent. Republicans champion freedom, choice and the free market.

The world needs to be more about freedom and social order. The problem is the world is getting more competitive and at this rate, we will see
the population of the United States double in 20 years and people from Africa applying to US universities creating even more competition in ADDITION
to people from Asia. This amount of demand needs to be balanced with supply, and I don’t foresee any way the US and Canada can meet this supply at the very top levels. Sure more people=>more companies=>more jobs but it seems the job creation lags far below that of job demand right now and that issue needs to be fixed.

That is my complaint with the amount of contributing that goes on in the world. Population needs to be controlled. Third world countries exist for a reason and that is to be at the bottom of the social hieararchy. How can the United States and Canada be at the top if there weren’t any developing countries? War/disease also exists to control the population and thus lower the amount of competition. The employment rate after WWII was very low,
during the 50s and 60s unemployment topped at around 7% and is as low as 3.x% during the Truman/Eisenhower administration. Why? because soldiers who
died in WWII can no longer compete for jobs. This is part of the reason why the economy booms the decade after the war. In short, I think war/disease can actually be healthy for the economy in the long term if it occurs in line with population growth.

Personal situation
So now that I got that rant out of the way: my finances have been suffering quite a bit recently. Stock market has not been good to me this year (lost all my profits from last year + $2000 in principal), I had to sell my car to pay for my tuition at a $1600 loss, I got scammed $2200 from a shady website contractor, and overall I’m in the red. Midterms have been stressful, and I’ve also joined some extracurricular activities like AIESEC and developing Magic cards in my spare time with CardForge. All in all though, I think my weaknesses here are evident. I am too impulsive with my money; despite my preaching of fiscal conservatism, I should actually work on practicing it sometime. I lack attention to detail in my projects, something that my PEY supervisor docked me for. What drives me is the thought that if I can do well in my courses, then I will have a shot at going where I want to go, and achieving what I want to achieve. Take a look at my spending distribution below and you can pretty much see that besides my tuition, my car was my biggest expense and perhaps the freedom of driving wasn’t worth the ~$10k that I spent on it.

Spending distribution (May '09 - Sept '10)
Spending distribution (May '09 - Sept '10)

I will end off this lengthy post with some videos I recorded recently: while my singing is still not great, I think I’ve improved with that from before (and yes I’m obsessed with the Beatles):

[tubepress video=”M-1BcImc0Io”]
[tubepress video=”gPnmo1coW9Y”]
[tubepress video=”92EkF2PM41E”]
[tubepress video=”F_PJEs1BYpU”]
[tubepress video=”ftuPiUsJaac”]
[tubepress video=”e-BdhQ-wyCE”]