The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea – Korea Must End the Suicide Epidemic

An average of 42.6 people committed suicide every day in Korea in 2010 or 15,566 over the whole year. That translates into 31.2 in every 100,000 Koreans committing suicide, 2.4 times more than the OECD average of 12.8 people.
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An interesting article about the suicide rate in Korea and yet the author can’t comprehend a simple explanation that would probably help. Korea is undergoing change. Some people simply can’t handle change. Within three decades, Korea doesn’t even come close to resembling what it used to be. I see signs of change everywhere. The old can’t understand the drastically new. The young can’t understand why the old don’t get “it”. Thousands of years of tradition are being stream-rolled over in favour of capitalism and westernization. Doesn’t anyone see the stresses this can cause? So far I haven’t touched upon the soul of a nation that had been disturbed. What they knew is slowly fading and they, as a society, are trying to find a new definition for themselves. What if there is none? How does one find “his place in the world” when the world is caught between the traditions of the old and the demands of the new? Koreans are like children in this modern world. They have shiny new toys but no sense of responsibility because they never had to have any when they were young. A Korean mother did everything for their kids. She made them food, washed their clothes, cleaned their room. Why would they believe that they needed any form of responsibility when it came to cars or technology? I fear this will lead a major credit crisis because once again, unless you are married to a woman who was taught to be the responsible one in the family, they will treat their money liked they treat their phones….purely as a disposable commodity and the “powers that be” liked that very much when the cornerstone of capitalization is debt and NOT freedom. We should also consider what else is NOT taught in schools….creativity. Kids are taught to memorize but never to think. Thinking leads to questioning and Korean society never question its elders because it is considered rude to do so. This is a severely dangerous path when you are not allowed to think and end up being just another robot in the assembly line of capitalism. It limits your belief and ability to think critically as well as from a detached point of view that is so often needed for problem solving. This ought to be interesting to see down the road.

Busses and cramped streets

It seems that once cars became affordable, the parking laws non-existent, this bus route never changed but simple became challenged driving down some side streets that is barely big enough for a bus, let along a bus and two cars parked on each side.

Then you get people like this:

Too lazy to walk a block.
Too lazy to walk a block.


That guy parked there on a regular basis.  He was just too lazy to talk.  The rule here is that as long as you got your phone number in the window or your blinkers on, it’s legal.  (That’s sarcasm in case you missed that).

Don “Teacher”

So being in Korea on a F3(Spousal) visa means I can ‘earn income’.  I am only allowed to stay here as long as my wife has a teaching Visa.  Luckily living here is pretty cheap and we can manage just fine.  To that end, I also don’t want to get bored so I help out some hagwons(private schools) when they need someone to fill in for a few hours.  It is kinda fun too.

In a culture where respect for elders is ingrained in early childhood, children who don’t know you but need to speak with you might just use the Korean work for ‘teacher’ regardless if you are or not.  Also, because I am a foreigner and the bulk of foreigners that the kids see are English Teachers, they will usually call me ‘songsaneem’ (Korean for teacher).  Even more so the ones who my wife has taught that know me and they don’t know what else to call me.  Teacher is a good sign of respect.

For the most part, the volunteer work is easy (mainly because they have set books and it’s easy to follow them).  The other day there was a section to ‘Draw your teacher and talk about him.”  This is what I got(kinda got the RUN DMC look there):

From Korea Random 2012

Children’s Day

Korea is probably the best at ‘creating random holidays because our people are too stressed out’. In Canada we have Valentines day. A generic day for anyone who wishes to express their love to their significant other. Not so in Korea. Oh there is Valentines day but ONLY the men get presents. Women have to wait one month for WHITE day. Then there is Parents Day as well as Couples Day.

So what do people usually do on Children’s day? Well, obviously spend it with their child. Although I think this photo isn’t exactly what they meant(Sitting in a fast food restaurant, reading a car brochure while your kid plays on his smartphone):

From Korea Random 2012

Pop Music in Korea (KPOP)

A culture can be defined by many things, least of all music. Music has a way of transcending barriers and has often been called the ‘universal language’ (or was that math or Love…I don’t recall…). Still, when ever I am exposed to another culture, I try to see what it’s music is like. It’s not hard to find something you like in any culture if you look hard enough. Here are my favourites that I have found so far.

The first is G Dragon. One might be tempted to say that I like him purely based on his name, and truth be told, I started listening based on that name alone but then the music I liked. So it worked out :) In face, this song is G Dragon and T.O.P pair of singers.

The next is another song, from their same album. The word you hear repeated is supposed to mean Knockout. Funny thing about translations, I have not been able to find that translated by an online translation yet. I do know that the second part of the work (guy-yo) means go or go out. Still, it’s a funky little tune.

And the last one, for today, is your very typical teeney type of band. Dal Shabet, a 6 girls and the video truly reflects their market. Still, I find their beat for this song rather interesting so here you go. Try NOT to get it stuck in your head :P  I won’t bother commenting on the implications of their other song, Pink Rocket.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more songs as the years go by. You can be sure that eventually the Korean groups will be heading that way…as soon as the big industry controllers over there let them in. It is inevitable as their popularity is growing fast in this part of the world.