To say that a new country or new culture has turned you into an alcoholic says more about you and your drinking problem than it does about the country itself. So when I blame my (potential?) alcoholism on Korea, I don’t think that the issue is entirely about Korea, per se. I think it might in fact be the physical manifestation of my cultural reaction to Korea, or it may instead be a very lame and flimsy excuse.
SLG Mag : A Fresh Perspective
Has the international media gone mad? Or is censorship in South Korea so disturbingly good that the government is effectively hiding the real severity of the situation from the residents of South Korea? Regular Koreans do not care about North Korea. In fact, average South Koreans are likely more concerned about the latest Korean drama actress and where to spend their upcoming summer vacations than with the current political “crisis”. The best way to describe the South Korean reaction to North Korea’s threats would be “uber blasé”.
After 2 years and 4 months, or 839 days if you’re really counting, my Southeast Asian journey is fast coming to an end and may even be at the end by the time I can physically get my fingers to type out those dreaded words – I’m leaving. Thailand. This week. It has been a chore to even say those words aloud let alone write about it, but with only a few days to go before I’m on a plane and most definitely out of here, it is time to wrap it all up.
One of the more recent terms to gain momentum is ‘bagel girl’, a term which refers to a woman with a “baby face and a glamorous (read, “curvy and mature”) body”. The idea of a girl who has a childlike face, while flaunting the sexualized body of an older woman, is certainly alarming on many levels, as the trend lends itself to the sexualisation of young girls.
Our Cairo Correspondent Iman Ali is not only a hard-at-work scholar, but a true traveler at heart. She recently penned this short poem "Precious Moments" which embodies the notion of experiential travel. We're sharing it with you in hopes that you beat the Winter blues, and get started on planning your next trip in 2013.
My grandmother held me by my shoulders and scrutinized my face. Instead of commenting as she usually did about my height or how skinny I was, she said, “You got so dark!” Her face twisted to form a grimace as she nodded at my mother disapprovingly. My mother then proceeded to explain to her why I had become so dark as though she was pleading guilty to a crime before a judge in court. “We need to fix that,” my aunt remarked. By “that,” she meant my skin color; how she planned on “fixing” it, I was about to find out.
An interesting observation I have made is the mentality when it comes to money and commercial talent. In America spending has priority before saving. And When consumer spending is low the economy goes into recession. In Norway the shops are closed by law on Sundays. Commercials on TV were first allowed around 1990, and the volume is low and strictly regulated compared to the US and particularly New York. The "shop for the fun of it" mentality is not as great in Norway as in the US. I believe that in New York there is always someone after my money. There is an offer on each corner and the creativity of each hawker to get me to make a purchase is constant and enormous.
Photography is a dangerous sport. The convenience of iphones cameras, and rapid access to wifi and social media platforms means that many of us can discretely snap or upload images of anonymous strangers while we travel, usually with little thought to the subject’s privacy or personal space. With the immediacy of twitter and apps such as Instagram, we can distribute street photos in a snap, without any thought to how this image may be culturally inappropriate or perhaps degrading to the local people.
As a translator, the term monozukuri always causes me problems. It literally means “the making of things” but it encompasses aspects of craftsmanship, meticulousness, pride in the production process and an affinity for the creation of goods that are carefully considered and of the highest possible quality. Monozukuri also contains a sense of pride in a job well done and an affinity for vocation akin to a calling. It’s not just folks making things for a pay check. It’s people engaging in work that gives their working lives meaning.
When Manuela worked in a public hospital, she became a witness of the violence perpetuated against female patients. Doctors overused C-sections in order to make more money. Some forced sterilization on many women because they saw mothers who were constantly pregnant as careless. One young lady once told Manuela that she did not want to come in for post-natal care because her doctor treated her poorly. Manuela said to me, “Many doctors view these women as culprits and burdens on society, but in reality these women are victims. They simply do not have knowledge of their own right
Gangnam Style is stylistically or culturally grounded in Korean themes, and how it might be reflecting some of the social issues in modern Seoul life. Regardless of my own personal speculation and my loose contextualization, I would not encourage anybody to view ‘Gangnam Style’ too deeply or cynically. It is, after all, a catchy horse dance with a hypnotic beat. Let’s start dancing.