If you won 1 billion in the lottery, what would you do?

Interesting question, I heard that there was a single winner of the $1.6 billion Mega Million lottery today. After taxes and taking the lump sum that’s roughly $600 million dollars. That won’t get you into the $1 billion club but that’s a lot of money.

Now what I would do is actually very similar to what I did a few weeks ago. You see – due to some bad financial losses I had this year and some loans I had to pay back, I was forced to sell my San Francisco apartment. Luckily for me, my SF apartment had appreciated in value about 40% since I bought it back in 2013. So I more than made up for my bad financial losses – I actually came out with an overall profit. So basically I had lump sum of cash after I sold my apartment – not exactly $600 million, more like 0.1% of that ( $600k ish) – but that’s still a lot of cash, and here’s what I did with it:

roughly 2/3rds of it (66%~) – I converted to Canadian dollars to take advantage of the roughly 30%~ gain in Canadian currency you can get right now. Canadian currency is very low right now in comparison to USD so I decided to take advantage of that. Most of that money will be going towards purchasing a residence in Canada (I’m still going to take out a mortgage because Toronto/Vancouver prices aint cheap!)

another 1/6th (16%~) went to an online investment tool I use which is Wealthfront (www.wealthfront.com) which automatically diversifies that money into a pool of stocks/bonds/natural resources/minerals/dividends

another 1/12th (8%~) went to cryptocurrencies (yeah I know cause I’m a millenial and all, and I believe it will recover) but its pretty high risk

the remaining 1/12th (8%~) is sitting in cash to pay off my credit cards right now for my current spending. I am also taking a break to travel a few countries in Asia I didn’t get to travel to before using some of that cash.

If I had a $600m windfall, I don’t think I would use my money that much differently, although I would probably allocate a lower amount to real estate (oh I would buy a few places in Canada/USA/Korea but not that much because it would get hard to manage), I would give away a couple million to my good friends and family, and I would probably shift more money to stocks and dividends so I can generate more passive income off of those. I would also probably travel a bit more and grow my (already admittedly large) computer/phone/guitar collection.

But that’s about it. On the Mazlow hierarchy of needs, Money definitely solves the lower level problems like healthcare, food and survival, but for higher level needs like love and companionship it doesn’t really help solve it. Good relationships are hard to find, and those are priceless in a sense, you can’t really buy a really good friend or the love of your life.. you have to find that yourself. Really, the higher level keys to your happiness in life are not obtainable by any amount of money whether it be $600k or $600m. That’s what I realized, anyways but as far as money is concerned thats how I would use it.

The 7 year California journey comes to an end

“Time is our most valuable commodity. We can always earn back money, but we can never earn back our time. Stop worrying about the future, and treasure the present. Cherish the people we have around us and the time we spend with them,we don’t know when they might be gone someday.”

So finally my place did sell, (although the buyer came close to backing out for $1000 in repairs) but thankful to at least get 4% over asking for it.

Aside from that, I’ve said all my goodbyes to the few friends I have left in SF, gave away most of my furniture, and gave my company notice. I’m actually a little bit bitter about my company, because I thought I would have been able to work part time remote for them, just like previous co-workers have, and my direct manager thinks I’m valuable enough to keep, but the upper management rejected the request. For whatever reason I don’t know. Half of our team is remote, a lot of them are full time remote, and other than the front end team, which is me and 2 other people, the rest of the engineering team come into the office only twice a week. Front end team comes in 4 days a week, and I haven’t missed any days. I’ve been pretty loyal to my company the past 1.5 years, and they are probably just going to replace me with someone from India who works full time remote anyways. It doesn’t make any sense.

Plus, its not even about money. I’m asking for my salary to be cut in half here. So apparently they are willing to pay me full time salary just to be able to come into the office (where I don’t really talk to anyone anyways), rather than pay me part time and have me be remote. It’s unfair and it doesn’t make any sense to me.

In other news, crypto is still having the blues, and I’m still 90% down so its highly unlikely I’ll get anything more than 50% of my money back even if it recovers. ICOs have lost me at least $25k and Masternode scam coins have lost me another $25k. So that’s $50k (a years worth of savings) lost in scammy coins right there, neither of which will ever recover. At this point, I’m not sure what I will do. I will probably take most of the proceeds from my apartment sale as a downpayment for a future Canadian home (most likely in Vancouver), and invest the rest in Wealthfront. No more crypto currency / gambling for me. It’s way too risky. Can’t believe I lost 90% of my savings ($150k turned into $15k). Lesson learned, I guess.

I’ll definitely miss California/San Francisco, and I’ll definitely miss my apartment as I had many good memories there with my friends. I think more than just missing the scenery though, is missing the moments I shared with my friends and other people. That’s what I kind of regret. I regret not taking more pictures / videos with my friends, I regret not saving any of my Kakao chats from 2012/2013 (they were erased when I switched from my iPhone 4S to 5S in late 2013), because 2012-2014 were probably the best times of my life. 7 years of California memories, 2011-2018. I had so much fun meeting people (especially from San Francisco ESL group meetup), and traveling to places, just wish I had some way of remembering it better. I rarely took pictures/video back then compared to now. I never even took a selfie until I first went to Korea in Sept 2013. That was the first time I took selfies with anyone. As I grow older, I realize more and more that time really is the most valuable resource, and it’s not the scenery or the environment or the atmosphere I should cherish, but the people I shared it with.

As for where I’ll go next, I’ll probably head to Korea for a few months, meet all my Korean friends, and then go back to Canada. My grandpa is becoming senile, and my grandma has really bad dementia now, so this might be my last time seeing them, unfortunately. Of course, I also want to see my parents + my brother who I only see once a year. Sometimes I wish time would pass by slower, or even stop. I don’t really want to get older, I’m 30 already and felt like I wasted all of my 29 year old life and half of my 30 year old life due to my savings being annihilated and I haven’t really got anything from this year at all. I originally planned to take a trip to Singapore/Bangkok/HK/Shanghai/Osaka and go to Seoul/Busan early but that all changed because of crypto.
I’m glad I could hang out with Tony, my best friend here more, but everything has to come to an end. Since my work doesn’t want me remote, I’ll probably have to find a job in either Vancouver or Seattle but most likely I’ll try for Seattle first since the pay is much higher for engineers there, but its not guaranteed because this would be my 6th TN Visa, and knowing Trump and my horrible experiences applying for a TN last year, it’s probably not going to be easy to get another Visa again. If not, I’ll probably just have to settle working in Vancouver for roughly half the salary. Or maybe I’ll think about teaching programming in Korea, who knows… I need some time to think, and this would be the first time I’m unemployed since I graduated (I also haven’t taken any PTO this year since my company gives so little), so I need a well-deserved break from work for a while.

As for a gf or wife, I don’t know. (this is at a time when most of my friends are in stable long term relationships and/or married now). At the beginning of the year, I had a gf who was beautiful and sweet to me, and I thought I was going to marry her. Later on in the year, I found out that she was kind of crazy, and definitely not the type of girl to marry. We’ve been broken up for over 4 months now. I don’t know if I can find another Korean girl, because I can’t think of any good way aside from remote work (which I don’t want to do unless its on my own hours this time) to live in Korea long term again. Will I find a Korean girl in Vancouver or Seattle who isn’t a student and who is interested in me and won’t leave in the long term? Who knows. It’s all uncertainty in my life at this point, but I hope I find some answers soon.

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.