Categories
General

2019: Year in Review

Every year, I do a year in review, with highlights and lowlights and a summary so this is my year in review for 2019.

Highlights

-I found a great job at a great company with great co-workers at Kong
-Had a great time in Korea this year, met all my friends again, made a Korean gf
-Went on a nice cruise with my family this year

Lowlights

-Still recovering from all the financial issues I suffered last year mainly losing the majority of my life savings because of the QuadrigaCX crypto exchange collapse
-More difficult to make new friends in Vancouver than I expected

Summary

I don’t have a whole lot of updates for this year, because this year was pretty much a recovery year from the disaster that was last year. Last year took away my San Francisco apartment, my life savings, and most of my best friends away from me. I started out this year with almost no savings, no house, unemployed and with no friends in Vancouver.

The start to this year was really rough. I was told that the exchange that I used last year to transfer my savings over to Canada, QuadrigaCX had gone under with over $215M CAD owing to creditors once the CEO died under mysterious circumstances in India. The rest of this year was basically waiting for updates from the ongoing lawsuit – Ernst&Young being the bankruptcy trustee and Miller Thomson being the lawyers.

So far they are still processing claims, and have been doing so for the last 4 months with no updates to us creditors so far. They have roughly $33M + $12M (the CEO and his widow enriched themselves by purchasing Nova Scotia property so there’s extra assets here) for us but roughly $7M I estimate will be in legal fees paid to EY and MT. After that there’s roughly $38M left in the pot for us creditors, depending on how much people claim. There’s $215M in total claims outstanding but me and several other creditors theorize that at least half of those claims are not real or left on the exchange by money launderers. And then there’s the CRA (Canada’s IRS) waiting to take even more money from us.
So I calculated it and I think roughly we’ll get back anywhere from 15% (worst case scenario) to 40% (best case)  with 25-30% being the most likely percentage we’ll get back. I have no idea how long this process will take but hopefully sometime next year we’ll get it back.

So that being the backdrop, a hammer that was dropped on me at the beginning of the year, you can see the rest of the year takes a backseat to this whole lawsuit thing.
I did manage to luck out finding a great SF company to work for (Kong Inc) that I could work remotely for, and everything about that company I liked better than my previous company. My manager, coworkers, the type of work I was doing etc I learned way more in 6 months than I did in a whole 1.5years at my previous company.
And I did manage to have some time to travel to Korea for a bit and that was a really great experience, much better than last year (God really had it in for me last year), got to meet all my friends again and dated a bunch of girls, etc it really transported me back to the days when I lived there (2015-2016). I also got a chance to go on a cruise with my family (to the Bahamas) which I haven’t traveled with since late 2013 and especially getting to see my brother again is nice since he’s usually busy and very isolated since he lives in Winnipeg.

But once I got back to Vancouver, it became lonely again, and I think it might be just because its hard in general to make friends once you’re out of school but even harder when you work from home and have no co-workers to really talk to. At least in San Francisco I still have one really good friend to hang out with. In Vancouver I didn’t know anyone. I tried going to some language exchange meetups but the people I meet there are always very transient, they change every time so its hard to meet someone stable.
I did get into a relationship with a girl I met in Korea but its long distance and that’s always really difficult to maintain. I hope I can though, because she seems much more stable than my ex gf was, and much more mature (she’s 3 years older than me). On top of that, I don’t really like my landlord and am looking to find a new place to move to next year. He is incredibly strict with his house rules and seems always ready to fine me since he blames me for  everything that happens around the house (I have 6-7 housemates) and raised my rent by $100 because he said I ‘stayed at home too much thus using more electricity’ which is ridiculous. 

So yeah this year is mostly a recovery year, but after the initial shock that happened early this year and lucking out into finding a good company to work for, the rest of the year went reasonably smoothly. Let’s hope that next year will continue to go smoothly and hopefully I’ll have some luck finally with crypto (I still have some reserves but its down a whopping 80% and I missed a good chance to sell it in the summer, hopefully it will go back up next year), and with the lawsuit as well (oh please don’t let that $215M in claims be a real number, hopefully most of those big claims are fake).

Otherwise I’m just slowly saving up money again trying to afford a place in Vancouver eventually. This process might be considerably faster or slower depending on how much crypto goes up/down next year and how much/when money I get back from the QuadrigaCX lawsuit…

 

Categories
Asia

What are the differences between Korean culture and Chinese culture?

A lot of differences. Some Chinese people say that Koreans “stole” Chinese culture but in some ways Korea is more Chinese than modern day China is.

-Koreans follow strict Confucian principles more than modern day Chinese do. This was true even back in the old times when Qing China and Joseon Korea existed. Koreans more than any other race stick together. They have this sense of ‘togetherness’ that does not exist to the same extent in modern day China. For example, somebody fall down in the street in China. Does anyone care? If it happened in Korea many people will help them. Do Chinese people really care about how other people act behave or look like? Maybe, but not to the same degree Koreans care.

-Loyalty and politeness. Korea takes a lot of cultural cues from Japan. This is one of them.. Korean companies value loyalty and expect the workers to stay at their company their whole life, just like in Japan. Its considered disloyal to quit the company or change companies. This does not happen in China. Also social cues like ‘nun-chi’ 눈치 in Korea its kind of like mannerisms towards older status people doesn’t really exist in China. Koreans bow when greeting each other. Chinese shake hands much like Westerners.

-During new years or Thanksgiving Koreans (particularly the women) will dress in their traditional outfits the hanbok 한복 and traditionally prepare food for their ancestors. A lot of Korean couples also wear hanbok just for taking pictures. You will not see Chinese wear their traditional outfits for things like this. The only times I see Chinese wear qipao or hanfu are for stage plays, Chinese opera or for traditional type weddings, thats it.

-Language. Korean language although they used to use Chinese characters, is very different now. They use honorifics in their language just like Japanese. So talking to older or younger person uses different grammar. Not so in Mandarin chinese.

-Work culture as I mentioned is pretty different. And its more competitive. Koreans have to learn either Chinese or Japanese in high school (in addition to studying 14+ hours a day but that’s something shared in common with China), and because appearance is valued so much in Korea, lots of girls get plastic surgery just to have a higher chance of getting a job there. Most students study English late into the night. You’ll find that the average Korean’s English is better than the averaged Chinese’s English skill. In China its not quite as competitive due to the following fact:

-Chinese are more ambitious and bigger risk takers than Koreans are. Koreans are very socially conservative more so than Chinese. They are risk averse and would rather suicide because they couldn’t get into Samsung or a famous university than start their own company. Chinese will find another way to get a job or start their own companies. They don’t give up quite as easily.

-Koreans care about appearance a lot like I mentioned. So almost all Korean girls wear makeup, dress up, and don’t wear glasses. Their fashion styles are totally different. In China its not quite as important, BUT they focus a lot more of showing off their wealth which means buying brand name items and owning homes is more important over there. Korean women wear more revealing clothes on average than Chinese women do. You’ll find that almost all the service women you see on Korean TV (broadcasters, reporters, etc) are attractive. Korea definitely places more emphasis on women’s appearances than China does. Their airline attendants and female golf players all look like models.

-Koreans are a more ‘traditional’ society… the women usually stay at home to take care of children, and do cooking and cleaning, while in China these duties are shared between the husband and wife. Gender equality is better in China due to communism..

-China is both more conservative and more liberal than Korea in some ways. It’s more liberal in the sense that gender equality is significantly better for women in China than in Korea. You’ll see many Chinese female CEOs, many Chinese women making as much or more than Chinese men, many Chinese women controlling the household etc whereas in Korea it’s almost always the men controlling the household, making money, being the CEO, making all the decisions etc. Abortion was legalized in China 30 years before Korea legalized it. Korea only legalized abortion in 2019. 

-But China is also more conservative in the sense that it censors a lot of sex/violence in entertainment which Korea only restricts but does not censor (in fact there are large numbers of Korean movies produced each year with sex scenes/violence in it), many Chinese will not talk about prostitution or sex whereas Koreans will acknowledge that prostitution exists in Korea and can talk about sex (albeit being an uncomfortable topic to discuss). the concept of Dowries exist in China but not in Korea. In China, the men always pay for everything, whereas in Korea the men pay for the majority of things but not everything.

-China is a very diverse country full of different races. Korea is 99% Korean. This means if you look different or act different, you are probably more likely to be noticed in Korea than in China. Korea is a very conformist society and people like to act and look the same. You will find less ‘crazy’ people in Korea than in other countries.

-Religion. 40% of Koreans are Christians and another 30% are Buddhist. Since Communism eliminated religion, very few Chinese are actually religious.

-Koreans like to export their culture to other countries like kpop or kdramas. They somewhat have to do this because their country is small and they have a limited market, so their global marketing skills are very developed. China has a big domestic market so not much need to export their music or fashion or entertainment, thats why you never about hear any Chinese pop conventions…

-Korean food is really just a subset of Chinese food. Chinese people eat almost anything. spicy things, fried things, insects, herbs, parts of frog or duck or dog or horse, etc almost ANYTHING. The cuisine really depends on part of China, but Korean food tends to be spicy, and their cuisine really is a subset of Chinese cuisine. I can say almost anything you eat in Korea can be found *somewhere* in China, but not the other way around. Very few Koreans eat actual Chinese food and instead eat “Koreanized’ Chinese food. Jajeongmyeon is actually Korean food but they think its Chinese.

-Both countries are relatively safe compared to gun crazy America, but Korea is more safe. In China there is always risk of food poisoning, people stealing stuff, getting scammed etc. In Korea you can leave your phone on a table for hours and no one will take it. There was even one incident where a Chinese female friend had forgotten her laptop in Korea and the Korean staff actually took the time to ship the laptop back to her in China. 

Thats just a few differences.. there are indeed MANY since I lived in both countries. Even tiny minor things, for example Koreans like to drink when they are together and Chinese play card games (Koreans dont play card games very often). Chinese don’t drink or party as much as Koreans do on average. Games like Mahjong are non-existent in Korea but everywhere in China. Koreans love their coffee and Chinese love tea. The amount of coffee and tea shops in both places are pretty much reversed.

Categories
General

What can we learn from the news of Sulli (f(x) member)’s death?

This was indeed a tragedy, and many kpop stars have expressed their feelings about her suicide; and the relation to both mental illness and the effect of cyber-bullying on people’s health.

Sulli was only 25 when she died, which makes it even more tragic as she’s the youngest kpop star to die pre-maturely since the death of Eunbi and RiSe (of Ladie’s Code) in a car accident back in Sept 2014. I wept at both funerals.

Here’s my take on this:

Firstly, mental illness is a huge problem in Korea especially. Korea is a very socially conservative country, where depression and mental illness isn’t properly treated and is instead shamed. There is a stigma against expressing yourself in Korea. This leads to many Koreans who feel ‘답답하다’ – feeling that they are keeping feelings bottled inside them and can’t let it out – long term, this is bad for mental health and manifests in either violence (drunken fights, domestic violence etc) or depression (suicide) – Korea has the highest suicide rate out of all OECD countries. This is an issue with Korean society that cannot change until Korean society becomes more open minded and progressive and less judging of others – the very fabric of what makes Korea society what it is today.

Secondly, online bullying is a real problem with not just Korea but every country. It’s especially pronounced in Korea though because of how judgmental people are in that country. Does it make sense to judge someone for showing their a bit of skin on top when Korean women can walk around in incredibly short skirts or shorts with no one saying a thing? That’s one of the ironies of Korean society. It’s conservative in some ways – and yet it’s not in other ways. You have churches surrounded by motels and adult shops. You have porn banned but you have hundreds of movies with bed scenes in them. The society is very contradictory.

And I have my own experience that I can relate to  – with both depression and netizens – what you really have to know is that social media really brings out the worst in people. Because they are hidden behind the safety of their own monitor, they feel like they can just say stupid, harsh, ridiculous or ignorant things without any repercussions.
Last year 2018 was really the worst year of my life. I wasn’t enjoying my job at my previous company. I wasn’t able to maintain the long distance relationship I had with my (ex) gf (partly due to my previous company which wouldn’t allow me to take any vacation time to visit my gf in Korea) which led to a messy breakup. I had broken my friendship with one of my closest friends. I had lost one third of my net worth in bad crypto investments. And to top it all off – I was forced to sell my apartment to pay off my loans, move to a place (Vancouver) where I didn’t know anyone and I lost the rest of my money from a scam, trying to move it back to Canada from the US (I was trying to avoid fees from bank commission by using a crypto exchange to move my money back – the CEO suddenly died and it was revealed that it was a ponzi scheme right when I was trying to withdraw my money ). I suffered from deep anxiety and depression because of all of this (losing 90%+ of your net worth in one year and breaking up with a girl you thought you would marry does that to you).
After I got scammed, a few articles popped online about it – and several threads were created on reddit to mock the fact that I had lost all of my money. People saw my Youtube videos online and insulted me, chided me for being an idiot for taking such a huge risk and accused me of being a money launderer. Some netizens even encouraged me to take my own life, saying that ‘stupid people like this deserve to lose their money and shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce’.

Did I contemplate suicide? Of course I did. But I also tried to talk to my friends and family more. Out of this I have to thank my family + friends for providing me support in my darkest times and giving me a reason to live. I realized that money was not everything and that I can always make it back. I realized that people online shouldn’t be taken seriously and that the only people you should take seriously are the people who are closest to you. “People who mind, don’t matter – and the people who matter, don’t mind“.

Sorry my story is kind of a tangent, but the point to hit on is this; We can’t pray for easy lives. Because life isn’t easy. We have to pray to be stronger people. We have to re-assess what is our true purpose in life and what we are living for. Who are the people who care about us? These are the things we should think about before we can decide to suicide or take our own life.
I can’t pretend to know what was on Sulli’s mind when she decided to take her own life – perhaps if I was in her shoes in the constricting Korean society with all its pressures and being only 25 years young my mind would have been the same as hers – but what we can learn from it is that perhaps Korean society should take mental health more seriously, Korean entertainment companies could treat its stars better, perhaps netizens could think more about the real-life implications of their comments and perhaps before doing something like taking our own lives we can think about other people that care about us – in a way suicide is an act of selfishness – because Sulli surely had a lot more people that loved her than hated her. I wish she would have re-thought things more before she did what she did – but it always takes a tragedy for human society to progress I feel.