The Marmot's Hole

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Category: Korean Culture (page 2 of 71)

Chinese tourists feel disrespected in Korea: Ye Olde Chosun

Despite being the biggest customers in the Korean tourism market—both in terms of numbers and money spent—many Chinese tourists come away with bad feelings.

Or so reports the Chosun Ilbo, citing a poll it took of 100 Chinese tourists in Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun and Gangnam taken last year.

A full 25% of respondents said their image of Korea worsened after actually visiting the country. In particular, 37% responded that they were the target of real or perceived contempt from Koreans. Only 10% said they’d felt such contempt when traveling in other countries, which would suggest—says the Chosun—that globe-trotting Chinese tourists get such a strongly negative impression only in Korea.

Chinese not only accounted for a full third of all the foreigners who entered Korea last year, but they also spend the most money here. In 2012, the average Chinese tourist spent USD 2,153.7 in Korea, 140% the foreign tourist average of USD 1,529.5. They also spent USD 378 per day; likewise, this was the highest among foreign tourists. Chinese tourists are also responsible for a considerable amount of added value—perhaps as much as KRW 7 trillion’s worth.

Of the disrespected Chinese tourists, 12 said they were verbally disrespected, 11 pointed to facial expressions, and eight cited body language.

One 20-something Chinese tourist the Chosun met in Myeong-dong recently was pissed off about an incident that took place in a subway. On the second day of her visit, she was talking in Chinese with her friend on the subway when an ajumma tapped her with her foot and motioned for her to go into another carriage. She could feel the contempt in her eyes, she said. At Dongdaemun Market, the only time she felt welcomed was when she handed over money.

When Chinese tourists head off the major tourist track, things get even worse. Volunteer Chinese interpreters say the places about which they get the most complaints are the well-known beauty salons in places like Sinchon and Apgujeong (Marmot’s Note: Well-known hair stylists? Being dicks? To tourists? Noooooooooooooooo!). One volunteer said he took a 20-something Chinese woman to a hair stylist in front of Ewha, but when they got there the owner’s faced turned sour. The volunteer said the open display of dislike was embarrassing.

Despite this, Korean officials are still saying there’s nothing to worry about. A government survey on inbound tourism taken this year showed the Chinese tourists were highly satisfied with their travel experience, scoring 4.14 points out of 5. This was the same level of satisfaction as the total average. Experts say this is an illusion, however. The government polls are often given of tourist groups at select shopping malls, hotels and restaurants—places where tourists are unlikely to meet the “real Korea,” so to speak.

China experts warn the impact of this goes beyond money—it could affect the entire Sino-Korean relationship. One foundation director head said the Sino-Korean relationship was an important matter on which Korea’s future depended, and lessening the gap in culture and values was the basis of diplomacy, both at the private and government levels. He added that this social value was a national asset much more important than money.

Marmot’s Note: Being from New York, I just naturally assume tourists are treated like jerks and am pleasantly surprised when they aren’t.

Speaking of which, somebody posted this on Facebook yesterday. I thought it was hella funny:

Anyway, Korean readers, on your way home today, please hug a Chinese tourist. They apparently need one.

소나무 비천 되어 (Pine becomes flight). . . Pine Carvings of A Master


A free exhibition of temple-style pine carvings has opened at the Seoul Fine Arts Center (Seocho Gu) and is a very fine example of the art form from a living master: 허길량.  IMHO, this is an easy must-see exhibition for many reasons.  There is at least one lady there who can give detailed help in English as well but I am not sure how often she is there.  She did offer some insight into the recent problems with the Namdaemun pine too that was interesting to hear.  The accompanying book and calendar are wonderful at 10,000 too. The SAC page for this exhibit is here.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fred Dustin: Jeju’s Renaissance Man

Think you have been here for a long time?  Except for a few years while at school, Dr. Fred Dustin has been in Korea since 1952!  He has literally done it all:  Military, English teaching, Mining, Copy Editing, Rainbow trout promoting, writing, voicing, poultry raising, agriculture, and, of course, The Kimnyoung Maze on Jeju Island.

Not only has Dr. Dustin done everything, he also knew everyone.  Have any of you ever heard of the Koryo Club?

Seoul was a city in transformation and it was filled with interesting people. One such person was Ferris Miller, who arrived in Korea prior to the Korean War and returned in 1953 to work for the Bank of Korea. It was he who founded the Koryo Club – a group of Koreans and foreigners with an interest in Korea and its culture.

The meetings were held in Miller’s home and members were supposed to deliver papers on “things Korea” but Dustin, who was the youngest member, does not remember any specific papers every being delivered - only the large number of beer bottles that had to be cleared away the next morning.

But there were exchanges of ideas as evidenced by the names of the members - names that are now well-known in Korea studies: Edward Wagner (founder of the Korea Institute at Harvard), Richard Rutt (a former Anglican bishop who wrote many books on Korean poetry and his life as a country priest), William E. Skillend (the first professor of Korean at the School of Oriental and African Studies), Greg Henderson (diplomat and author), Chung Bi-seok (novelist), Cho Byung-hwa (poet) and Choi Byung-woo (Korea Times managing editor and reporter who died at the age of 34 on Sept. 26, 1958, while covering the Chinese Communist bombing of Quemoy and Matsu Islands).

All of these men had an impact on Dustin’s life.

“I look back in awe and with great respect upon those friends, role models and early mentors,” he fondly recalls.

You can read more about Dr. Dustin here in (Korea Times, Jan. 10, 2014).  For those on Jeju Island – if you get a chance, stop by today and wish him a Happy 84th Birthday.

New Year Resolutions and Diet

Happy New Year to everybody! One of my two resolutions this year is to eat less meat. I will keep on eating fish, but try to cut out as much red meat and poultry as possible. Whenever I am in Korea I get taken out to restaurants, and even at my parent’s home, I am shocked at how much more and frequent the meat (not including fish) consumption has become, compared to say, 10,20 years ago. Also, I notice how obese some of the kids in primary schools (as well as unruly) have become..
So it is very surprising to find Korea as an example nation where the increase in wealth has not led to the corresponding increase in obesity in this BBC piece . You can play the video, and listen to what the market ajummas have to say. One thing that was not dubbed over properly I note is that one of them mentions 짜장면 (Chajang-myun) , or Joonghwa Yori (Chinese-Korean restaurant food) as unhealthy food, as well as Western food. This has always been true, as 중화요리 is known for using a lot of oil and if you want to stay thin, less 철가방 chul-kabang(metal-bag) delivery is in order.

Speaking of Chinese delivery, I saw that they were getting people ready for the new street-name based address system when I was in Korea 2 months ago, and now that it has come into effect from this year, a lot of Koreans are complaining, including the delivery restaurants. Is it affecting any of you?

Finally, another BBC, diet-related item which says that intermittent fasting if good for your body. My late grandpa who was a real stickler to doing everything to live long and healthy (and he did) really abided by 소식(soshik, eating little).

Park Eun-Jee Totally Gets It

Park Eun-Jee? you ask. Who is she?

Well, she is the author of a current JoongAng Ilbo post on the Tourism Center in Apkujongdong (Gangnam) that was built next to the Hyundai Department Store. As Ms. Park points out, government-style thinking is much like Samsung’s often strange and misplaced advertising concept: it doesn’t work:

. . . A major reason for the center’s (tourism) disappointing reception appears to stem from an entrenched bureaucratic way of thinking, with officials offering tourists what they think foreigners should see, rather than responding to the interests of their visitors.

As the author points out, a tourist:

  • can’t touch costumes
  • can’t learn dance moves
  • can’t buy tickets to shows (since most ticket sites offer no help to non-Koreans)
  • can’t buy costumes or clothes that are hip
  • can’t learn about all K-pop stars (just a few)
  • can’t talk to medical clinic representatives on site

I would add visitors can’t sign up for interactive exhibits, for example, a live dance performance that tourists could participate in and take pictures or video of. I am surprised that there is not more of a theme-park approach to this center too.  I guess someone thought it was enough to put in a coffee franchise in there and no, they don’t need to turn it into a for-profit enterprise by putting in a casino because that is a short-sighted view of how to use a cultural marketing opportunity.

When I read Park’s article and see the truly bizarre advertising that comes out of Samsung or Hyundai overseas, this really tells me that the wrong people make decisions about how to market things that are “Korean”.  Maybe some of the people who are just now starting to be taken seriously in “big data” usage in Korea should be managing marketing efforts since their knowledge comes from data points from real people and not how “Kim middle-age-guy” grew up or learned from Korean corporate politics and culture.  Why not ask for recommendations from K-pop fan sites and find out directly from the people that would spend money to come here?

I must quote from the one piece of paper I keep at my desk, the one that never disappears from my desk, thanks to Marcel Proust:

The real voyage of discovery
lies not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes

It is in this way that the old becomes new again or that I can see my mistakes and successes in a different way.

What is also really interesting is how much interest in Korean entertainment there really is in the rest of the world but how little understanding there is, from Koreans, on how to cultivate this interest, IMHO.


Don’t blame me. Blame Wangkon.

photo credit: Ruocaled via photopin cc

What to do, what to do. Ah, yes. Korean Dinner porn.

Winter got you locked indoors  waiting for spring? Looking for a worthwhile way to pass the weary hours ensconced within the warmth of your ondol? Well, here you go: streaming Korean dinner porn.


Click image for your full-on-animated-foodgasm.

From Kotaku:

One of the most popular mok-bang broadcast jockeys is known as The Diva. By day, she works at a consulting agency. By night? She eats. A lot. The Diva streams daily starting between 8pm and 9pm, with her broadcasts going on for hours. As with many mok-bang streams, it’s a seemingly endless parade of delicious food, whether that’s yummy Korean food, pizza, pasta, steak, you name it.

Take that, Food Network!

Enjoy it while you can — before the KCSC finds out your enjoying it too much.

photo credit: KOREA.NET – Official page of the Republic of Korea via photopin cc

Chinese whinging about kimchi’s UNESCO status

Some truly blogtastic complaining from Zhang Huiqiang, the associate director of the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine, about the registration of kimchi on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list:

“Technically, kimchi originated from Sichuan pickles,” said Zhang. “It’s like the offspring has stolen the glory belonging to its ancestor.”

And on Chinese social media:

“Our Sichuan pickles taste much better than Korean kimchi. They have a longer history and are more diverse!” Claire Li wrote on Sina’s microblog, Weibo.

Parting shot from Zhang:

“I don’t worry that Unesco won’t list two similar items,” Zhang said. “Ours is better, keep that in mind; if they can recognise a good one, why not a better one.”

According to a JoongAng Ilbo piece from 2011, Sichuan’s butt-hurt pickle-makers have been trying to push this line for a couple of years now. Interestingly enough, Sichuan pickles are fermented in a clay jar, much like Korea’s kimchi, although the pickles’ sterile fermentation contrasts with the lactic acid fermentation used in kimchi, German kimchi (referred to in some places as “sauerkraut”) and yogurt.

Pro tip: Russian dill pickles go great with buuz.

photo credit: buck82 via photopin cc

Korean TV Programing Is Going to the Dogs


A nameless group of people have descended upon MBC Broadcaster to protest the inclusion of Lee Mi-sook (이미숙) (pictured above with TOP (singer) and a dog) on their shows because she did something really bad. She actually “had a previous romantic involvement with a man 17 years her junior, and she has been embroiled in a recent prosecutors’ investigation because she had problems with her former agency regarding her management contract.” (link)

This nameless group of ten people, who claim to represent many other people (code for “crazy church people”?) filed (an injunction?) in Seoul Southern District Court last Thursday. These mysterious protectors of public decency do not want youth to be corrupted by such indecent behaviour, so they want to ban her. These must be the same sad f***s that went after one of my favorite business associates because she had been divorced.

Imagine that, women dating younger men, people getting divorces — just what is society coming to these days? TV is really going to the dogs, especially since CJ Corporation will be airing a new Dog TV channel that is 24/7 shows for dogs, with special sound frequencies to help quiet the little one. The fee for this channel is reported to be around 1,000,000 Won.

Asiana Crash and Korean Culture Redux

At a National Transportation Safety Board today, experts testified that, well, Korean culture may have played a role in the accident:

In the crucial minutes before an Asiana Airlines flight crashed in San Francisco last summer, the pilots voiced concern about the plane’s low speed but did nothing to correct it until just before it hit the ground.

A hearing on Wednesday into the July 6 crash that killed three people and injured more than 180, highlighted the pilots’ mistaken reliance on the autopilot to maintain their airspeed but also Korean cultural factors that may have played a role and the design of the flight controls.

What cultural factors, you ask? Well, if interviews with the pilot are anything to go by, then these ones:

Captain Lee told investigators that any of the three pilots on the plane could have decided to break off the approach, but he said it was “very hard” for him to do so because he was a “low-level” person being supervised by an instructor pilot.

He also said that as the plane approached, he was momentarily blinded by a light on the runway, possibly a reflection of the sun, but that he would not wear sunglasses because that was considered impolite among Koreans.

I don’t know. The sunglasses comment makes me wonder if perhaps this is more of a “military culture” thing than anything else. Military folk in particular love the shades—see Park Chung-hee, the MPs at the DMZ, etc.—but junior officers won’t wear shades in front of their superior officers. Or so I’m told.

I’ll let the folk who actually know about such things do the talking, though.

photo credit: caribb via photopin cc

‘Oldboy’ remake might suck, but Korea’s ‘Top Gun’ is OK

It looks like Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” is bombing at the box office, and the reviews aren’t so good. Which is surprising, because I can’t imagine a film featuring a guy in a suit with a hammer being an unsatisfying experience.

One reviewer said a funny, though:

A respectable piece of filmmaking from a purely technical perspective [but an] unnecessary, inferior remake…Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ is harder to swallow than the octopus in Park’s original.

Speaking of remakes, Kyle Mizokami at War Is Boring enjoyed “Return 2 Base,” which was apparently not only quite watchable, but also much superior to China’s “Top Gun” ripoff.

Anyway, as Wangkon will tell you, “Return 2 Base” is actually a remake of the 1964 film “Red Muffler” by director Shin Sang-ok, whose life story was just as dramatic as any of his films. If you’d like to watch the original, here it is thanks to that whole Youtube thingamajig:

K-pop: A horror show for masochists?

While Michael Hurt argues there is no Korean Wave, John Lui at the Straits Times seems to think it does exist, and it’s not a very nice thing (HT to Aaron):

Do you like being treated like rubbish? Do you enjoy having your warmth and kisses rewarded with a fist to the face and a vacuum cleaner nozzle down your wallet? Do you sometimes find normal pop artists simply too talented, or just too nice?

If you said yes to any of the above, you will just love K-pop, that sugary, neon-coloured funtime that combines the best of a plastic surgery trade show and a mugging in a dark alley.

Don’t hold back, John. Let us know how you really feel.

I have no desire to enter this conversation, really. Sure, K-pop’s not my thing, but I suppose I’d enjoy watching “cleavage-and-legs music videos” than Miley Cyrus twerking. And I know absolutely nothing about Singapore’s pop culture industry, which may be telling.

Losers, NLL transcript, invisible US ambassador, Japan and UNESCO redux, complaining foreigners, pretty shaved heads and Lego


With guys like this running the Ministry of Defense, is it any surprise they’re dragging their feet with the transfer of wartime operational command?

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency touched off a furor by saying at a National Assembly audit that South Korea would “lose” in a one-on-one war with North Korea.

South Korea’s 2013 military spending is 33 to 34 times more than North Korea‘s.

Speaking at the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee annual audit of his office at the Ministry of National Defense on Nov. 5, Cho Bo-geun reportedly responded to a question about who would win in a war between South Korea and North Korea by saying, “If we fight as an alliance with the US under the current operational plan, we‘ll win by an overwhelming margin. If South Korea fights alone, North Korea has the superior fighting strength, so South Korea would lose.”

Twice the population, a military budget 34 times the size of North Korea’s, an economic gap that looks like this, and you still think you’d lose?

I just don’t know what to say, other than the Defense Ministry should hire Doug Bandow as a consultant or something.

Which way did the transcript go, George? Which way did it go?

More nonsense with the NLL:

“People all know that President Roh Moo-hyun guarded the NLL (Northern Limit Line),” Moon told reporters before his questioning. “The transcript [of the summit] is intact.

“The crux of this matter is that the ruling party and the National Intelligence Service abused the transcript stored at the NIS by distorting its contents for [last year’s] presidential election,” said Moon, who was also the Democratic Party candidate defeated in last year’s presidential election.

When asked by reporters why the transcript wasn’t transferred to the National Archives, Moon did not answer.

He’s probably right about the NIS using the transcript for political purposes in the last election. As far as everyone knowing that Roh defended the NLL, I’d say recent elections and polling would suggest that’s far from the case.

US ambassador needs to drink more

Somebody at the JoongAng Ilbo apparently doesn’t think US Ambassador Sung Kim is drinking enough:

Modesty and passiveness are different. Kim’s background is too special for him to be just another ambassador.

Because he is the first Korean-American to be appointed U.S. ambassador to Seoul, and because he is the forerunner for other people of Korean descent who will take senior posts in other countries, our expectations are high.

It is not too late. We want to see His Excellency Kim meeting Koreans over glasses of makgeolli during the rest of his term.

There seems to be some confusion here, and I’ve noticed it with previous ambassadors here, too. More specifically, it sometimes seems the media expects the US ambassador to represent Korean interests to the US government. Sure, I guess in terms of public policy, it doesn’t hurt to mix with the locals. Could be fun, too. But that’s not his job.

Oh, not this again…

The JoongAng Ilbo thinks the Japanese are being insensitive by pushing the registration of their modern cultural heritage with UNESCO:

Japan was a regional front-runner when it came to industrialization and economic success. The government is seeking to register its early industrial sites as Unesco World Heritage sites to rekindle pride in its economic legacy. Doing so, however, the country has once again demonstrated insensitivity toward its neighbor. Eleven out of the 28 “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution” it plans to seek for UN recognition in February 2015 served as labor camps for Korean prisoners and civilians during World War II.

At least 1,481 Koreans were forced to work as slaves in sites that include a shipyard in Nagasaki, a defunct coal mine and a steel mill in Fukuoka, according to a study by the Prime Minister’s Office.The Hashima coal mine was notoriously referred to as the “island of hell” because Koreans were forced to work for 12 hours a day in pits of 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) below the surface. Few Koreans came out alive or even healthy.

Any country is entitled to vie for international recognition and protection for its heritage and cultural properties under the World Heritage Treaty of 1972. The places Japan wants to list as World Heritage sites may be valuable assets to the Japanese, but they trigger bitter and painful memories for Koreans. It is spiteful to honor its past glory at the expense of others’ pain.

I’ve already explained why I think this is a losing fight for the Korean side here.

Sometimes, this blog just writes itself

OK, it’s a bit dated, but in case you missed the Korea Times piece about the gay American pastor in HBC complaining about Korea’s homophobic textbooks, then you also missed this beauty from an Education Ministry official—be warned, though, that you should not be drinking anything when you read it, especially coffee, which can be especially difficult to wipe off your monitor:

“Every country has its own set of laws in evaluating and approving the education material for books. I don’t know if it’s appropriate for a foreigner to judge how we manage our education. You won’t see us commenting how other countries teach at schools.”

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing.

Like a very pretty bhikkhunī

Say what you will about Rep. Kim Jae-yeon’s politics—needless to say, I’m not a fan of her party. Still, she does look good with a shaved head.

Lego screwing Korea

Or that’s what some folk are complaining, anyway:

“Lego is too expensive, that’s why moms usually band together and make bulk purchases through the Internet,” Park Jin-hai, 38, a mother of two kids aged nine and six, said.

“Moms all know Lego is expensive, but we have no choice because kids love it. Also, it is difficult to find individual stores and service centers where customers can get the customer service in person,” Park added.

“Lego uses its international economic scale to raise awareness and the price here. Comparably smaller Korean toy firms cannot win with those strategies,” a market insider added.

Foreign coffee chains, outdoor fashion brands, Danish toy companies… when will these outrages stop?

Still not talking to Japan, PGH’s sneakers, N. Korean beauties, K-pop and Youtube, and frisky students

Not talking to Japan

Note to President Park: Look, I happen to agree that certain Japanese leaders are being, to put it politely, dickheads, Still, don’t you think you’re overreacting a bit here:

All of which makes South Korea’s current relationship with Japan all the more striking. Eight months after taking office, Ms Park has still not met her neighbour and fellow US ally, and talk of a summit, she said, was still premature.

“The fact is there are certain issues that complicate [that relationship]” she said. “One example is the issue of the comfort women. These are women who have spent their blossoming years in hardship and suffering, and spent the rest of their life in ruins.”

“And none of these cases have been resolved or addressed; the Japanese have not changed any of their positions with regard to this. If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one.”

I don’t see PM Abe and Co. growing more repentant any time soon, which means unless Park wants to spend however long Abe lasts pretending the man doesn’t exist, she’s eventually going to have to talk to him, and when she does, she’s going to look like she’s giving in.

Nice kicks

I suppose Park isn’t completely anti-Japanese. Certain jokes—most of them related to “Park Chung-hee” and “Japanese uniforms”—probably present themselves at this point. I won’t make them, though.

North Korean beauties

In Japan Focus, Christopher K. Green and Stephen J. Epstein look at “Ije mannareo gamnida,” the Channel A program that could be seen as Misuda, but with North Korean beauties. Read it in its entirely—here’s just the into:

In 2011, the recently established South Korean broadcasting network Channel-A launched Ije mannareo gamnida (Now on My Way to Meet You), a program whose format brings together a group of a dozen or more female talbukja (North Korean refugees)2 on a weekly basis. These women interact with host Nam Hui-seok, an additional female co-host (or, in the earlier episodes, two), and a panel composed of four male South Korean entertainers. Episodes typically open in a lighthearted manner, with conversation about daily life in North Korea alongside mild flirtation between the Southern male and Northern female participants, often involving song and dance, but climax with a talbuk seuteori, an emotionally harrowing narrative from one of the border-crossers detailing her exodus from North Korea. Via this framework Ije mannareo gamnida attempts to nurture the integration of North Korean refugees into South Korean society; personalization of their plight occurs in conjunction with reminders of a shared Korean identity maintained despite the regime they have fled, which is depicted as cruel, repressive and backward. The show has proven a minor hit within South Korea and received coverage from local and global media (see, e.g., Kim 2012; Choi 2012; Noce 2012).

The unusual subject matter of Ije mannareo gamnida itself renders the show worthy of analysis; equally significantly, it offers a useful window into attempts to address South Korea’s increasingly diverse society, which now includes a large number of North Koreans, as well as media practice in the face of this demographic shift. Nevertheless, other than journalistic treatment, only a limited number of South Korean scholars (e.g. Tae and Hwang 2012; Oh 2013) and Western academic bloggers (Draudt and Gleason 2012) have thus far investigated the show and its larger social ramifications. In this paper, we ask how Now on My Way to Meet You is to be understood within the contexts of South Korean society, its evolving media culture, and developments in South Korean popular representations of North Koreans. We offer close readings of segments from Ije mannareo gamnida in order to elicit motifs that recur as it pursues its stated goal of humanizing North Korea for a South Korean audience and giving defectors a voice amidst the general populace. Given that the show’s very title intimates that a genuine encounter is about to take place, one might reasonably ask how successfully Ije mannareo gamnida establishes a meeting point for South Koreans with these recent arrivals from North Korea: in other words, does the show fulfill its stated aim of breaking down prejudices against North Korean refugees and supplying them with a vehicle that allows self-expression?3 Or, alternatively, does it reinforce, even if unintentionally, pre-existing regimes of knowledge and actually impede understanding of North Korea and its people? As we will argue, given the broader sociopolitical context, the show’s desire to reinforce elements of commonality between North and South while illuminating life in North Korea leads to a double bind: viewers are encouraged to recognize homogeneity with the newcomers based on a shared ethnic and cultural identity, even as the conversations and editing techniques applied to the material often represent the Northern panelists as Others.

K-pop and Youtube

Over at the WSJ, Jeff Yang asks why Girls’ Generation and K-Pop won big at the YouTube Music Awards. Ordinarily, I’d say the answer to that is simple—there is no God—but then again, considering the disgrace that was the MTV Music Awards, perhaps somebody really is watching over us.

Anyway, to win those sorts of things, a passionate fan base and a very mobile-savvy population help:

Having just returned from an extended trip to Korea, I can attest to that: For Korean consumers, whose mobile broadband cups runneth over, watching video is like breathing — they’re virtually never not in front of a screen, whether they’re sitting on the subway, walking through busy intersections, or hanging out at home. It’s quite common to see family members in Korean households sitting around “alone together,” each viewing their own media on their own respective screens while ostensibly in the same room. I was, in fact, nearly run over by a kid watching some kind of video while riding a bicycle, steering with his elbows. And a huge percentage of the content they watch is music videos — almost all of it via streaming sites like YouTube.

“When country restrictions are in place, like the way every country has its own iTunes Store, one can’t witness the power of a global K-pop fanbase,” says Jeff Benjamin, who covers K-Pop for the music industry’s periodical of record, Billboard. “But when no restrictions are in place, like on YouTube, it’s amazing what they can do. ‘I Got a Boy’ received millions of views in its first few hours.”

Hey, anything to beat Justin Bieber.

Keep your hands to yourselves, kids!

The first reaction to hearing that kids are getting punished for holding hands at school may be, “Gee, how medieval.”

Then again, at least I haven’t read about kids recording themselves having sex in class. So perhaps the Korean schools are on to something here.

Cyber role play a sex playground for teens

When formulating attention-grabbing titles for a blog post, “Cyber role play a sex playground for teens” has got to be up there as one of the more effective.

This comes courtesy of the Korea Times reporting that cyber role play sex playgrounds are popping up more frequently in the Korean blogosphere. And some of the story lines being created are quite wild.

For example, one plot has a delinquent student caught smoking on the school roof. Soon the student and the teacher are having sex.

Another plot describes a group of homosexual school goons cornering a student inside a storage room and raping him. Or, a famous cartoon character is glorified as he kills himself by falling off a school roof in the most blissful, romanticized manner.

(For the record, in my pre-internet  high school years, I collected MLB signatures at spring training games in Florida.)

The KT says there are 3,520 such role playing blogs on Naver and 351 blogs on Daum with the largest one boasting 6,000 registered members.

You can read the rest here, including one guy’s dismay with the fact that he knows less about sex toys than most teens. Ah, the things we miss out on growing up.

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