BigBallinStalin wrote: perchorin wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:2. How do Koreans generally feel about the US presence of military there? What's there general take on US involvement with their country?
There is a very clear generation gap as regards the US military presence in Korea. If you're over 60 (and with the aging population problem over here, that's a very significant percentage) you have nothing but warm fuzzy feelings for Uncle Sam and his boys. Mi-ka-duh (MacArthur) is still revered by this group. If you're 30-60 you likely see the US military presence as an unfortunate necessity, but would be happy to see them pack up and leave someday (unless you're particularly astute and realize the dollar value of the free security services being provided). If you're under 30 you generally hate the US military presence and many go so far as to claim the US is the enemy and sole preventer of peaceful reunification with the north. Young people here are pretty fucked up! A poll a few years ago of the local youth asked "who is the Republic of Korea's 'main enemy'" and Japan came in number one, the US at number two and North Korea was a distant third.
I wonder if the young may shift their attitude as they get older, or perhaps they could be correct--in that the US military is not necessary there. Perhaps a mutual defense pact is, but that can be honored without basing US troops in Korea.
Their attitude is interesting because the general US foreign policy argument against non-interventionism is that if they pull out US forces from Korea, then the Koreans would be extremely upset. They would have 'lost' an ally (even though there's still the mutual defense agreement...).
Some of the folks who spent their youth hating on the US will no doubt soften or even change their views as they age, but not enough that I don't see a tipping point coming where a solid majority of South Koreans just don't want the American military on their soil anymore. The Americans do themselves no favors either by sending what I've been told are the bottom of the barrel types to serve over here (apparently a good portion of the soldiers on tour in the RoK are here because someone upstairs doesn't like them, and no I'm not claiming that's all the soldiers here--just a larger portion than you'd find stationed in Europe or Japan for example). This really shows when you hear about the constant troubles caused by the bad apples when they go out on leave and get drunk. A few weeks ago, a staff sergeant, his wife (also in the army) and a corporal decided it would be cool to take air guns into Seoul and shoot them at people. then when a local police officer tried to stop them they got into a car and went on a high speed chase through the streets of Seoul til they were finally cornered. Even then the driver was about to run the cops down in the street to get away until they shot him in the shoulder. Don't even get me started on all the rapes either. It really pisses me off because that shit reflects poorly on me as well as far as the locals are concerned. Anyway it's been my opinion for many years that the US should pull out of South Korea before it gets to the point they're kicked out. The troops and resources could obviously be used in better ways (ideally not at all but that's a different topic altogether) but the fact is these troops haven't been stationed here as a Nork deterrent for almost any point in the last 50 years. They were kept here first because of the USSR and now because of China. North Korea is just a convenient bogeyman to keep an army in this part of the world and everyone knows it.
chang50 wrote:Hi,as one Western expat living in Asia to another how do you regard Western armchair critics of Eastern culture,in particular the irrational (to me) revulsion re. what animals it is acceptable to eat?
I've eaten some pretty weird shit, but one dinner stands out. I was part of a diving consulting firm and we were negotiating our services with an operator in Hainan. They ordered and the first course was shark fin soup. It blew our we can help sustain and develop your operation argument straight out of the water.
Nothing about that story surprises me mate. Shark fin soup is another one of those, like dog, that I wouldn't care about people eating if not for the method if it's 'harvesting'. When Chinese fisherman catch a shark, they haul it onboard, cut off all it's fins (the only part of an average shark with market value) and, still alive, dump the now finless shark back into the ocean. That's like pulling the wings off a fly then flicking it into a spider web, but with a much higher order of animal. It's somewhat of a cliche to say it by now, but life's pretty cheap in this part of the world sometimes and nowhere is that truer than China. Used to be in the part of China nearest North Korea you could buy a North Korean refugee/escapee woman for as little as $500 US and make her your slave, but I've read the price has gone up to almost $1k in recent years.
Symmetry wrote:Last time I was in Pusan, I wandered in to a hostess bar. How can they be avoided?
Unless the last time you were here was more than 7-8 years ago I'm not sure how you managed to do that. They've really tried to crack down on prostitution since then. They've failed miserably of course (in fact there's probably more now then there was before) but what they did accomplish was pushing it off the streets and bars and into massage parlors, karaoke clubs and the internet most of all. Anyway next time you're in the area I assure you you won't "accidentally" walk into any hostess bars of the sort you're probably referring to. Also, a lot of "whiskey bars" both here and in Japan feature dimly lit rooms with sexy young girls who sit at your table and poor your drinks for you. Those girls ARE NOT prostitutes (unless you have major money to drop, but then we've all got our price right?) their job is really just to sit with the middle aged dude and talk to him. It's an East Asian thing.
_sabotage_ wrote:If it looks like a barbershop but no one's getting a hair cut, has a red K in karaoke, a bar that doesn't have windows, a hotel without room service that offers in room massage, or if at any point they use English to say, "You strong man so pretty, want have drink?"
Most of these things are either urban legends (has a red K in karaoke) or things of the past, for the reasons stated above. Make no mistake, prostitution is alive and well in the Republic but you have to work a wee bit harder to find it than you used to.
betiko wrote:what do koreans think of the worldwide buzz with the gangnam style, are they proud of it?
how bad is the video game addiction in korea? Is it the worsein the world? what about technology? Are koreans 24/7 on their cellphone texting?
Is a video game champion more popular than a soccer player from the national team?
is it true that public denounciator has become one of the wealthiest jobs? I saw once on TV that many people used a camera on their windshield to track any small abuse and the government pays them for it. Same thing in schools. People try to trick others and can make big bucks. And denounciators are very proud of the disgusting thing they do...
do you have japanese electronics/cars in korea? if you do would people spit on you?
what about K-pop? is western pop music still popular, or it's just about the locals now?
So many questions, I'll take them one at a time.1. what do koreans think of the worldwide buzz with the gangnam style, are they proud of it?
Yeah they're pretty proud of that, and you can't turn in a full circle anywhere in this country without seeing Psy's face on something right now. My wife and I went to the theater to see Django the other day (just got here) and I swear of the dozen ads you have to watch before they let you see the movie Psy was in nine of them! I wish that was a joke. All I have to say is, at least this time the guy is a legitimate "world star". In the past if a guy had a 30 second part in a Hollywood movie he'd be billed back here as a "world star". By the way, are they still playing that song where you guys live? 2. how bad is the video game addiction in korea? Is it the worsein the world?
First off, "video games" to me means playstation or xbox or the like. Those things relatively uncommon over here. All the games they play are on the PC. Not sure if there's a difference there but wanted to clear that up. I can see why you would think like this. As recently as three years ago there were no fewer than three different television channels that existed almost solely for broadcasting professional Starcraft matches and Koreans are no doubt over-represented in probably every international gaming community there is. What people gotta realize is this is a tiny country with a huge population. There really isn't the space for things like baseball diamonds or football pitches like what most of the rest of you are used to. They have them of course but for example, if you want to have an hour on the shittiest dirt pitch you've ever seen you have to schedule it weeks in advance and be an official team of some sort. So naturally boys being boys they fulfill their competitive urges in the most convenient manner available to them, PC games. It also helps that South Korea is home to the fastest internet in the world (also somewhat of a byproduct of the nations small size and population density). It drives me nuts trying to do anything online when I visit my parents back home because I'm used to lightning fast internet over here. As for "addiction" though, it may relatively high here the same way addiction to chewing coca leaf is high in Bolivia--there's just so much of it some people are bound to become addicted but most people handle it just fine. South Korea does have the highest suicide rate among OECD nations though, and while there are far more serious reasons than internet addiction contributing to that I wouldn't be surprised if internet addiction and the correspondent de-humanization some people experience with that was a factor.3. what about technology? Are koreans 24/7 on their cellphone texting?
Technology here is pretty sweet. I've got a badass Samsung phone that (at least as of last year) wasn't even available in the US. As far as texting goes, from what I can tell teenagers/young folks in every part of the world who are rich enough to own cell phones are texting 24/7, amiright?4. Is a video game champion more popular than a soccer player from the national team?
Not at all, not even close, it's an absurd thought. Every man woman and child over the age of three knows who Ji-sung Park is. Only people who are really into gaming (basically a certain small subset of young men, like punk rockers or metal heads in a western country) could tell you who is a game champion. Let me put it to you this way--based on what you see in the media you probably think everyone who lives in Texas is a crazy rightwing gun-toting nutjob. Being a native Texan myself I can assure you that those folks are a minority there (an admittedly uncomfortably large minority, but still). If, as I suspect, you're into online gaming you probably think Koreans come out of the womb already owning half a dozen League of Legends heroes but that's also simply not true.5. is it true that public denounciator has become one of the wealthiest jobs? I saw once on TV that many people used a camera on their windshield to track any small abuse and the government pays them for it. Same thing in schools. People try to trick others and can make big bucks. And denounciators are very proud of the disgusting thing they do...
Not sure where you got this from but it's not a real thing. If you've ever had the misfortune to drive in this part of the world though you'd appreciate anything that got some of these assholes off the road. Driving in Korea has taken 10 years off my life I've no doubt.6. do you have japanese electronics/cars in korea? if you do would people spit on you?
My TV is a Sony and my neighbor drives a Toyota. While I must admit there's a general antipathy that sometimes veers into full-on loathing towards the Japanese here the people are mostly pragmatic and know a good product when they see it. I teach English at a local high school and our juniors just took their annual class trip to Japan for the 4th year in a row. The only "spitters" over here are the same type of ultra-nationalist assholes that every country on earth has as probably 1-2% of their population. 7. what about K-pop? is western pop music still popular, or it's just about the locals now?
K-pop is a genre and yeah it's popular amongst the younger generation (I've been known to sing a k-pop song or two at karaoke myself from time to time) but for some reason people in the west want to believe that k-pop is the only kind of music that exists over here. Korea is no different from whatever country you live in when you turn on the radio. You'll find stations playing every musical genre you can think of, including that of western artists. What k-pop really is though is an exportable commodity and public relations goldmine. Japan had Hello Kitty and now Korea has Girl's Generation. If I took a survey of one of my classes (~32 students) no more than 8-12 would claim "k-pop" as their favorite genre. Again, I'm not sure where you're from but when I was a high school student in the States there were at least a dozen different genres of music that were popular with some group of kids or another. Here is no different.
Shit I think that's the longest post I've ever written but I really am enjoying sharing my views and experiences with you guys and getting some non-bullshit information out there in the process. Keep the questions coming!