choose life!

In response to earlier comment:

As far as why Koreans are not interested in African dance or culture, well, the answer is because they are poor. I won’t go into details in an open forum because I might be misunderstood as racist.

I’ll bite.  And I’ve been called a racist several times here in Korea


I believe the reasons why Koreans are not interested in African dance or culture is because Koreans are new money.  Like new money the world over, they are not secure in their status and have to surround themselves with things that validate their imagined or desired status in society.

For example, do Koreans really love European classical music so much, or do a disproportionate amount of children go to music academies learning violin and piano because they are status symbols for their parents?

Not only new money, but not worldly.  And happy to stay that way.  Travel is a new status symbol in and of itself and a huge amount of Koreans travel abroad on holiday.  But how much real culture do they experience in their tour groups?  How much interaction with the local populations do they have?  They will marginalize the foreigner’s culture shock, and yet they are totally unwilling to place themselves in a similar situation and avoid any mind-expanding discomfort.  And when they do live abroad, they are notorious for not bothering to learn about where they are, as their intent is only to stay long enough to pad their status upon return to Korea.

It’s really too bad.  Because this nouveau-riche snobbery robs them of the opportunity to grow as people and understand the rest of the world WHO THEY SEEK TO TRADE WITH.  So they really shoot themselves in the foot by doing so.  And if they looked at the world in more than a superficial way, they’d realize that Africa is not the country of poor mud huts and bare feet, but an incredibly diverse and rich culture equal to their own.

In fact, the whole world has rich cultures equal to Korea’s.  So maybe that’s what they’re afraid of; what they don’t want to recognize.  Because when you’ve spent your whole history in subjugation, and continue the self-subjugation today, nationalism is sometimes your only comfort.

It’s not about racism, to my mind.  It’s about this damned Confucian legacy.  Everyone wants to be the high ranking civil servant even when that role is obsolete.  In the absence of a Confucian government, the people will recreate the Confucian model in hopes that they can finally get a chance to master it.  What will it take to resolve this mass frustration???  Clearly, communism didn’t work for our brothers & sisters to the north.  And clearly, capitalism enslaves just as much as Confuscianism.

I guess this is a problem the world over:  just extreme here.   But to my mind, if everyone just stopped and surveyed and said, “I have enough.  My needs are met.  The consumer is finished.”  But Korea is in a shopping frenzy, in a mad race to impress each other.

Most older Koreans I have spoken with all bemoan that the changes have come too fast, and that the people just can’t adjust that quickly.  Many younger Koreans think Korea is not changing fast enough.  I think they’re both right.

But damn, you’d think some self confidence would kick in soon.  At least that’s what I hope for.  I hope Koreans can concentrate on being happy more and choose life! over this ancient and spiritually bankrupt quest for social status.

And in that world, grandmas will not force their daughters to throw away babies because their daughter’s happiness means more to them than what the Parks will think…

5 thoughts on “choose life!

  1. I am glad you are talking about this because I came across something the other day when I was going through Holt International website. I stumble upon a world map that showed all the countries Holt was involved in transnational adoption and of course SK was on the map. What struck me more was seeing the flags of other countries as well as mine (SK) and realizing that all the others countries were pretty much third world nations. So countries that are involved in international adoptions were poor countries with the exception of SK. (International adoption=poor) As you said, Koreans are “new money” thus much more status conscious than other nationals. So if you use status comparison when presenting the new adoption related bills in the congress then that might plant a subconscious undesirable comparison and others in the minds of the law makers and that might help pass adoption relate laws. Just a thought.

  2. One thing, appropos of learning about a new culture, how on many kblogs I can’t help but note that many arrive with an enthusiasm to learn the language, culture etc and after about 6 months they decide, heck I’ll hang out with other expats and a few Korean groupies.
    Its rather sad as Korea IS an interesting culture but of course its ALMOST a pre-requisite to learn the language..a hard task for many, including yours truly.
    My friend in Thailand tells me that the Korean Wave has hit them hard but he did note that when Koreans come to Thailand, at least the ones that come to shop. they tend to stick in groups and almost always eat at Korean Restaurants..heard the same about Koreans that travel to New York or LA….
    What a wasted opportunity.
    ( I was a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Cheoungju City)

  3. David, as an organization we do that all the time, at every opportunity. The “need” for international adoption in Korea is shameful for a so-called developed country. My entire speech at the art installation is delivered in that direction. But we can’t discount the incredible power the adoption industry’s dollars and influence have that has spanned political structures from dictatorship to baby democracies often run like mafias.

    Chosun King, I KNOW! I hear ya! I still think Korea is in a PTSD loop. They will recreate the scene of their degradation over and over and over again, hoping one of these times they will find a way to master it. But they don’t know how to do anything different and aren’t open to anything different and thus are trapped in this endless circle.

    One glimmer of hope comes from a small second wave of interest in Korean culture, which includes an appreciation for rural life. And another glimmer of hope comes from gyopos who have returned who bring with them knowledge of alternatives. I pray they don’t get beat into submission and manage to be a bridge between Korea past and Korea possible.

  4. I already know what TRACK stand for and I have seen the art installations and read part of the speech. What got me over was seeing the world map with the flags. Reading is one thing but seeing was another, at least for me. They say “picture is worth a thousand words.”

  5. Right. And you know Korea was the model for all of those countries, as it is the FIRST and is the longest continuously running International adoption program in the world. And it’s become a huge industry.

    And in many of those countries adoption agencies are inserting themselves into the social fabric again, as a solution for governments to ignore the needs of their people, as a way to have more children baptized in the Christian faith, as finding children for childless rich people vs. finding families for children WITHOUT families: all the while rationalized as charity – when the true charity would be helping families stay together.

    Wherever there is economic disparity in the world, the map of international adoption falls in the same places. Seriously. Overlay an economic map and Holt’s map and it’s stunning. It’s no coincidence. It is called exploitation.

    And adoption agencies are like vultures, circling, circling…so they can “help.”

    And the genius thing about Korea, is that they were able to institutionalize adoption here and make this country become a baby factory by turning it into a siphon for moral transgressions and social embarrassments.

    And for each of the 200,000 children expelled there are 200,000 women living their daily lives with their child-bearing scars and the surreal knowledge that a part of them is walking the earth with no knowledge of them or their love or even who they really are or what they are a part of.

    Without real options relinquishment becomes defacto. And the adoption agencies have no shame in pillaging these women of their flesh and blood. What are the effects on Koreans who aid and abet this process? What of the moms who must daily purge their memories of that nightmare? or longing?

    This is not a model for the rest of the world. I hope other countries say NO to this perpetual baby producing machine, even if they are on their knees in economic crisis or natural disaster.

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