The one thing about living in a population heavy country is that you get to see life condensed. You see things much more often or regularly than you should in a place like North America. This is why I write as much as i do. Hell, I probably could write more but that won’t pay any bills ;)
Korea is a country that has gone from a “have not” to a “have” status in just a few short decades(see miracle on the Han River). There are many indicators that I have observed which seem to point to this. Here are some examples.
1/ Food. When I order a burger with no veggies, they get confused. It is like they are surprised that you don’t want the extra food. 30 years ago you couldn’t order a burger at all but now that they give this”extra stuff” for free, it its like they must have it because they didn’t before. I have yet to find anything that confuses them more than this simple request. (ok, maybe giving them 10,500 won for a 9500 won purchase so that you can get a single 1000 won bill back is pretty close to confusing then as much).
2/ Cell phones. I’m a pretty geeky guy and love my tech toys like you would expect. Sure I get frustrated at times when stuff doesn’t work but when you see and hear a Korean get mad at their phone because of a game for 20mins straight you know there us a severe difference. Seriously, this guy on the bus I am on was even annoying other passengers with his outbursts of banging on the phone, loud sighing and curses.
3/ Debt. With a compete lack of education on how to handle money, Koreans have dove into the borrowing mindset with no thought on the future and it seems things like this make the IMF happy.
This led to a boom that was essentially a credit-driven consumption bubble that is now on the verge of bursting.
– see Korea’s Debt Mountain for more
I don’t know how long life will be good here but we are going to ride it out as long ass we can.
4/ The family disconnect. Asians place a very high value on family. Indeed, their Cheusok holiday is a prime time for mass movement back to their family hometown. Its kinda like North Americas Thanksgiving and if you are insane, you will he one of those people trying to drive at that time. (Just so you understand how insane it is to drive, it is not uncommon for a 5hr drive to take 15hrs during this time….). Let me add in another seemingly random observation then I’ll bring it all together. Her you will see the elderly pulling old baby buggys or carts around to pick up cardboard or plastic or metal. It can be heartbreaking to see a 70yr old, backbent, scraggly-haired, toothless lady trying desperately to get her beat up old buggy out of a mud rut in a road undergoing construction. That isn’t even the sad part. You ready for this? It is very likely that she is doing this to make money (recycling) to give to her family so they can go to university. Not a dime for themselves and what makes this truly a tragedy, some kids don’t care. Thus the family disconnect.
Barring some miraculous intervention, South Koreas economy week crash, life they shook do, and it will be bad. The 1920s crash will swarm like a play day at an amusement park I think. That being said, the very people who are ignored by thirty kids quill be the best off because they kept their mindset and Korea will be able to recover much beret than the US did because of their past. But hey, that’s just my observation.