April 7, 2013

Reflections and Home

I'm back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again

Ridin' the range once more
Totin' my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again...

Many people tell me that it is a good thing I came home. Obviously I agree or I wouldn't have done so. But I believe their reasoning is different and for a media frenzied population I can understand why.  It still amazes me that people do not look beyond their own boundaries to discover that a place not be what you are told it is or how the media says it is.  No worries guys!  I'm okay!...no big deal...but I can say this and yet if Kim Jun Un does blow up something, I would not know what I was talking about even if I had lived in the South and experienced the culture.

If anybody has the time and interest enough to do so, please read Daniel Tudor's book Korea: The Impossible Country.  Because it is impossible to imagine, so you need to educate yourself.  North and South Korea are brothers.  However the alliance the South has with the US hurts its relationship with its brother.

What were North and South Korea but conquered countries dependent upon another superpower?  Did they really have any say in their own history? And not long before these wars, the Japanese were their Imperialists...and they would say the same thing English teachers in the classrooms are saying... "No Korean!"

Also check out what the students think...

Today Seoul is ALIVE, but to restate the high schooler in the previous link, "I  don't wish Korea to be the wealthiest country in the world.  I would rather it be a country where its people's right to be happy is secured" - Love & Peace.  Korea is not happy (anymore) and it shows through the distrust, shallow status flaunts, and customer service.  Just because there are billions of people does not mean they cannot treat each other with respect: Review THIS!

Culture, language, respect for your own country takes a lot more effort when you are being bullied into thinking like the bigger guy. However, many Koreans are still proud of the sadness and struggle their country went to to become an economic force in the world today.  But an economic force is about all they have become.  Korea produces many products and provides what is most important -  cheap labor.  Minimum wage is $4/hour. Who in the US would work for that?!  Most 20 year olds there do, and it is a 'part-time' job done while studying or supposedly doing something else. So what is the cost of this economic force?  And why do English teachers, who are the same age with the same degree, get paid $27/hour, part-time as well.

How can people respect you, if you do not respect yourself?  Is respecting your country the same thing as respecting it's citizens? Think about it from a Korean, Asian, social, communal, perspective.  Respecting yourself above your country is selfish. In America the well-being of Americans is what makes the US respectable. That is why when you are obese, lazy, welfare-fed, the respect goes out the window.

The comparison of the two countries is almost ridiculous because of the major differences involving geography, culture, and history.  But the relationship South Korea and the US have together today and in the past is unavoidable. US influences the division between the North and South.  We think democratization is good for everyone.  When in fact people who have been living a life of servitude of the state for most of their history think that democracy/capitalism is different and perhaps selfish, making people themselves selfish.  Countries were created for a reason. Nations were built differently because of the different people who built them.  We are the same as a species, meaning we are born and then we die, but not as a race, and I mean human race.

Are democracies built upon capitalism only? Lions for Lambs is a movie that restates the birth of democracy, or the American dream, when they discuss in a classroom when has a big house with high walls not been the American dream? The answers the presenters gave was "1775, 2001, etc"...so the answer I believe is no.  And can Korea really be a democracy with a different kind of history? Or is the effort through capitalism just creating a bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots?

I believed in democracy to my core in college, and now I am not quite sure it is for everyone.  Asia is on its own standard now. And what comes next might blow democracy out of the water.  Things change, as do people, whether you like it or not. And the big footprint US left in North and South Korea is still there.  Koreans are like elephants, they never forget.  And when you can't forget, it is often impossible to forgive.


Full time job 7 days/week doesn't seem like such  a big deal after meeting a friend's boyfriend who works the fields in western Kansas, or after meeting bankers in Korea who work 8am to 11pm then are expected to go out and drink until they puke afterwards, and do it all over again in the morning. Work can be a life, or a living. Where is the time to consider the questions asked above.  Who cares about anything else besides putting food on your table and a roof over your head?  Who cares?....

The value of your life is dependent upon how you see it, not how others see it.

Investment in relationships, in businesses, in hobbies, in having a social life all comes at various risk levels. But not doing them is the greatest risk of all. There is a difference between hoarding and investing, usually you are always thinking about yourself, but when you invest you are also thinking of your connection with others.  It creates a financial tie (usually most important) that you want to take care of.  So if you do not care, you make just enough for you and nobody else matters.  When in fact everything you do involves someone else whether you like it or not. You cannot go out in the woods and expect to wing it on your own, there is not only the natural world but the obvious encounters with other unpredictable living things that will happen.  Your well-being depends on the well-being of others.  One job requires another job.  Like taking care of the fields..is it more efficient to have a piece of equipment for tilling, planting, spraying and irrigating and YOU do all the work?  When in God's name would you ever get that done?!  Or should one person be assigned to working each piece of equipment separately and follow each other down the line, saving time and money.

If you do not care, you will not hold up your end of the bargain and no one will trust you to work with them.  In Korea, each person has a job, creating more pointless employment for the massive amounts of people living in Seoul.  However pointless each person's job depends on the job done by the next person.  And even though there are many jobs, there are even more people without jobs. The unemployment rate is insane. And besides that they still spend! Like typical  capitalists...you could call it greed, selfishness, but in Korea it is a necessity..socially.  Korea racks up credit debt faster than the 50s 60s and 70s 80s in the US combined. "If thrift is an Asian virtue, then it is one that South Koreans are notably lacking: each adult has almost five credit cards on average, and the household debt burden exceeds that of the United States before the subprime crisis".

How is capitalism helping this situation? When the rule of law in Korea is anything but respected and the people who will suffer from this debt will be the have-nots.  Trust is impossible in this country when dealing with money.  There are few well-to-do people who are honest, because of the cutthroat environment South Korea has created for itself.  It's dream to succeed in the international world has abandoned its domestic labor force. Forced retirement at 50 and what Daniel Tudor calls the "angry 30-40 year olds". And there is a LOT of middle class, normal people who are not creating this debt but will suffer from it because of the selfish consumerism by the rich.  Wake up South Korea!  You have great people in your country!

Relationships are important and how you treat the ones you work with is a major indicator in how successful you will be in the long run, which, in the end, your relationships with those people are all that matter.