Do E-2 Snobs Really Exist?

This is a phenomenon that’s beyond my comprehension: the mid-career E-2 Visa snob.  What kind of God would make such a conflicting being?  No God.  That’s who.  This is just evolution spinning its wheels here.  Fortunately, these people tend to remain mostly childless based on what I’ve seen.  The snob-baggery stops there.

All I’d like to see is a little realistic humility from these people.  I’m not talking about a full-on Hindenburg dropkick to their inflated heads, but just a little more gravity to mellow things out.  You’re in Korea (a.k.a. Beta Japan).  You’re probably a decade+ older than you ought to be.  If you’re not wiping snot off kids’ noses for a living, you’re sitting high on an ersatz “””professorship””” awarded to you most likely through native-speaker affirmative action.

Have some humility, people.  If you’re a prole with no real experience, job skills and intelligence (like me), just fucking own it.  Don’t hide behind paper professorships or delusions of grandeur about being anything but a teacher… who teaches.  Accept mediocrity if dems the lemons you got.  Accepting mediocrity is not as bad as it seems.  What’s worse is feigning to be the ultimate, nonpareil snowflake badass.  The one who got all the fucking gold stars growing up.  The one who Never Missed One.  The more of that Hindenburg ego-hydrogen you huff, the harder and probably more deserving the fall.

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Wanna Buy an Old Korean Factory?

I revisited the old brick kiln recently where I met a guy who knew quite a bit about it.  Problem was, my understanding of Korean wasn’t good enough to fully grasp his short historical necropsy.  I asked when it shut down.  He just said in a hardcore Jeolla-do accent “a looooong time ago.”  He said the 55-meter-tall smokestack began to lean, causing problems.  They tried to correct it but that didn’t work out.  He mentioned that they grew the rice straw in the surrounding fields.  The area must have offered up ample mud back in the day, as it’s basically a bog, which explains why it was so good for brickmaking but also why the smokestack began to lean.  He wanted to know why I was photographing it.  I told him it was just a perverse hobby of mine.  Me thinks he was hoping that I was a potential buyer.  Dude’s claiming it can be had for about $65,000 and he’ll throw in the sun-bleached Korean VHS tapes scattered throughout the housing units for free.  Contact me if you’re interested.

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Abandoned Machinery in Korean Countryside

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Why Japan > Korea Part II

The gilf and I just got back from a four-day stay in the skinniest developed country in the world and now we’ve got nothing but admiration for the place.  The purpose of the trip was to atone for certain immigration sins over at the Korean consulate and then have my visa status resurrected three days later.  On the final day when the staff at the Korean consulate handed me back my passport, they made sure to go down the list of latest infractions I’d committed, reminding me that they’d have to go down on my permanent waeg record back in the hive.  I consented and actually smiled a bit inwardly.  They keep dossiers on each of us and mine is beginning to bulge a little.

The thing that struck the gilf and me most was how unimportant English seemed to be to the Japanese.  Maybe it was just shyness, but the Japanese were in no way eager to communicate in any language other than Japanese.  The kids didn’t gawk or assail me with insincere hellos.  No prodding parents.  It was as if English were equal in importance with Swahili and Romansch, i.e., totally unimportant.  In a way, I have more respect for the Japanese for this because they have their own civilization, their own ways of life, their own language and you can conform or get out.  But of course it never came off like this because the Japanese were so consistently, abundantly polite.

Killing with kindness might be a good way to describe how the Japanese deal with any petition for help you might have.  I could write up a few examples of how the gilf and I were helped out by painfully polite strangers, but I won’t.  You probably get the point already.  The Japanese are in a class of their own at the extreme end of the politeness spectrum.  So are Koreans, just at the opposite side of the spectrum.

The Japanese are also remarkably individualistic when it comes to fashion.  The gilf and I noticed that no two Japanese youths dressed exactly alike.  Hairstyles were fucking bizarre.  Eyebrows were optional.  Their footwear was unreal, especially the ladies’.  Middling Japanese beauties clearly knew how to max out their sexual market value through fashion in ways that Korean women just cannot comprehend.  However, we also noticed that Japanese school uniforms were atrocious atavisms from the 60s.  The Koreans have the Japanese beat in this regard.  To liberally hypothesize from this one observation, I’d say that Koreans can out-conform the Japanese to look better en masse, but on an individual level, the Koreans are hopelessly unequipped for the task.

On returning to the Hive on the Han, I also noticed a direct increase in my stress levels the more I was surrounded by Koreans.  The transition from walking among people who understood the concepts of pedestrian fluidity and basic personal space well to walking among those who didn’t was so abrupt that it sent my blood pressure sky-high before we’d even boarded.  Koreans tend not to be able to walk in non-confrontational ways; they can’t line up in non-chaotic ways very well either; nor are they particularly adept at taking turns respectfully.  Being among Koreans is similar to being in a sandbox during recess.

Halfway through our journey back, an ajeossi began barking viciously at the Japanese attendants after they told him the final call for the snack bar had long passed.  I got the gist of that announcement (given in Japanese and Korean) despite having downed two cans of Asahi prior to hearing it and still made it there in time to get a third.  In the process, an ajumma shamelessly cut in front of me but I was saved by one of the Japanese attendants; she saw that I was there first and ignored that bitch until I had been served.  This was a small, nonverbal victory over Korean sandbox norms that the attendant and I shared together, but with every meter we traveled, we were passing further and further beyond the point of no return.  We had won merely a tiny battle in a greater losing war.  The Koreans were reasserting their territory, adjusting the norms to their liking.  Japan might as well have been a distant memory.

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Three Types of Bloggers in Korea

There are three general types of bloggers in Korea: boundary policers, who are more inclined to police the bounds of discourse; boundary pushers, who have more of a devil-may-care attitude towards overstepping boundaries; and the bulk of people in between who usually get nowhere near the boundaries.  Huge overlap for sure, but this generally applies to bloggers in Korea, to bloggers worldwide, and to people in general.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that all three types are necessary.  (Diversity is Strength!)  The constant tension between the policers and pushers is what makes things fun.  It’s a symbiotic love-hate relationship.

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Korean city embarks on 9.5-hour workday experiment

Hwasun’s public sector employees will have their working hours increased while being kept on the same pay in effort to create a healthier, happier and cheaper workforce

A Korean city has embarked on an experiment in increasing the workday to 9.5 hours in an effort to improve profitability.

A section of employees of the municipality of Hwasun will now work an hour more a day than the 8.5 hours customary in the Korean Confucian democracy famed for its work-life balance.

The measure is being self-consciously conceived of as an experiment, with a group of municipal employees working more hours and a control group working regular hours – all on the same pay. The groups’ performances will then be compared.

It is hoped that the experiment will ultimately save money by making employees work more for less.

Chung-man Lee, the city’s deputy mayor, told The Local Hwasun that he hoped “staff members would take fewer sick days and feel better mentally and physically after working longer days”.

Hye-rin Choi, a local journalist and head of Social Policy at the New Economics Foundation, a think tank for Korean trust-fund adults, welcomed the proposals.

“Longer working hours create a more committed and harmonious workforce,” Ms Choi told The Chosun Ilbo. “There are indications you can make savings by increasing working hours,” she added, citing an experiment in Mongolia where public sector workers were given a one-day weekend.

According to OECD data, there is a correlation between shorter working hours and greater productivity, but officials in Hwasun are looking to challenge this empirical fact.

“We have a unique work culture in Korea,” said Mr. Park, a local businessman in Hwasun who hires mostly foreign workers.  “I am confident that the world will finally pay attention to the Korean way of doing business. Who knows? Maybe we could even export this model one day.”

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People of E-Mart: Spinster Edition

Today a spinster came into my local E-Mart branch with this thing in tow.  Just thought I’d share that little slice of heaven with you.

As always,

Yer Humble Servant


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