Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Autumn in Central Park
Bundang, South Korea, November 2008
Autumn in Korea is cold, but colorful. Best enjoyed with long walks in the park or numerous hiking trails in the mountains surrounding Seoul.
These photos were taken in my town, 15km south of Seoul.







Saturday, November 08, 2008

Zero defect

There is one place in the world where the decades old quest for zero defect (thanks Panasonic) will bare fruit. This place is Asia’s growling, but sometimes tame, Tiger – South Korea. And it will bare a lot of fruit – square tomatoes and apples the size of Zumas head (post-trial) for the most part. At least it’s food for thought.

Korea is perfect in many ways. Innovative public transport – who needs a car? Fastest internet in the world and definitely one of the highest populations with a university degree.

But perfection comes with a heavy price – to name one: boredom. Just ask the Swiss.

See the perfect apartment buildings: space-saving-high-rise apartment buildings that conform to one simple building plan – no need wasting time on creativity or catering to the individual’s needs.

Beautiful popstars, tv stars, movie stars who’s faces and bodies are sculptured to conform to the much wanted European body shape.

The perfect S-curve (the line formed by ample booty and booby). Eyelids, perky nose and wavy hair. Plastic surgeons make money here. And if you can’t afford a plastic surgeon you can pop into your local 7/11 and by eyelid-stickers. Stick it on and voila – instant eyelids for a pretty night on the town. Padding for your booty and bra are also available.

So, what gives Korea character? Because they do have character – a character that sets them apart from the West. A character that makes me want to be Korean.

They enjoy the little things. Here, being cute, is a good thing. Girls are cute. Guys are cute.
Okay, don’t mis-judge this cute-fad and go buy yourself a Hello Kitty purse or Doreamon socks. Those are for the kids.


Koreans are cute because they can laugh at themselves – loudly. They are fun people – they kid around like they’re everyoung teenagers.

Watch an MC Mong or Wondergirls music video and look closely at their popstar dance moves. Go to any club tonight and as soon as one of those songs start playing at least 18 Korean guys and girls will pull-out all the stops and mimic those moves perfectly. Bless them.

Public shows of affection might still be scarce – heaven forbid you should kiss your girlfriend in public. But Korean men and women pull-out all the stops to show their affection in other ways – gifts, corny cards...

I met one guy who phones his girl before she goes to bed, so he can sing her to sleep.


Watch a Korean game show – they do foolish things, like trying to out-run a row of plastic pillars that are quickly falling on each other, domino-style. He didn’t make it and ended up being crushed (lightly) by three pillars that came down on his head. Good fun.


And men slapping each other on the butt, holding hands in public? Totally normal and a sign of good friendship.

Say what you will of the communist-style apartment buildings, the strange fashion, the obsession with plastic surgery.

Koreans are unique in a way we might never be. And you should love them a little more for it.