Can It Really Be This Easy? For those of you that don’t know, Lady Gaga is coming to Korea, to start her Born This Way worldwide tour. Popular? You could say that. According to Wikipedia, “she has sold an estimated 23 million albums and 64 million singles worldwide, which makes her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. As of 8 April 2012, she has sold 7,246,566 singles in the United Kingdom.” Somehow, the headlines around Lady Gaga’s arrival in Korea is being shared with…protests by Korean Christian groups. The very nature of these protests displays why Korea remains an enigma to many. “Enigma” is a carefully, tactfully chose word; other words that can be used are “incomprehensible” or “pathetic.” In any case, this type of behavior, and the publicity being shown upon it, is definitely an Annoying Thing About Korea.
Hypocrisy First Told you this was going to be easy. Turn on Korean TV for about a nanosecond. Flip through about 5 channels. There, you will find a line of dancing girls between the ages of 18 and 25, wearing threads disguised as miniskirts. Go to any car/motorcyle/camera exhibit and you get the same thing. Wanna see some examples? Ever hear of YouTube?
All That is Wrong With Korea To those that have high hopes for Korea and its people, this is discouraging. To those that champion individual rights, this is disgusting. To those that believe that Korea can achieve even more, this gives you pause. To those watching Korea from abroad, this makes you wonder if this totalitarian, thought-control action has occurred in North or South Korea. What is “this?” This is Korea’s corporate-sponsored censorship. It can only occur when multiple parties participate. In this case, it is Samsung Electronics, and Naver.com.
Fears of Radiation Are Elevated in Korea
By now, native Koreans are used to living under an umbrella of underlying fear. This is one aspect of the Korean psyche. Fear of being subjugated, fear of being attacked by North Korea, and now, fear of radiation. However, today, the Chosun Ilbo reported that retailers have begun to introduce “radiation protective” products.
It’s Obvious to Everyone, and the Law Looks the Other Way
Usually, the Seoul Gyopo Guide believes that Koreans believe too strongly that there is a conspiracy, or hidden story, behind events. That is, admittedly, a foreigner’s point of view. However, there is sometimes a case when a non-native Korean will see a case, and it is obvious that a cover-up has occurred. As a result, it is then somewhat understandable that there are conspiracy theories that run amok. One case: the circumstances surrounding the suicide of actress Jang Ja-Yeon.
Korea has a fake identity problem, and Facebook is making it worse
There is zero doubt about the genius of Facebook. You can find lost friends (and Lost Seoul)s on Facebook, you can find join groups with others who have things in common with you, and you now, increasingly, you can play video games.
In Korea on Facebook, You Can Name Yourself Almost Anything
Go ahead and type in the name of a famous Korean person on Facebook. Try Yuna Kim (or Kim Yuna or 김유나). You will find an entire list of them. Do you see what I mean? Now if you really want to be a Fan, or join a group, which do you join?
The English Versions of Korean Newspapers Deliver News That Isn't (News)
Today, two separate articles appeared in different Korean (English version) newspapers. They are not newsworthy, for separate reasons. Perhaps that is the fascinating aspect, which is that there are multiple reasons that separate stories don't deserved to be published.
First, the following editorial appeared in The Chosun Ilbo, which had the groundbreaking (sarcasm) opinion that "2011 Will Be a Decisive Year for the Korean Economy." None of the facts reported in the article are news. In fact, most of those factors can be found written here (under the category "Korean economy", which was posted here on the Seoul Gyopo Guide over the past three months.
Connecting to Wi-Fi Hotspots is Difficult and It's (Largely) Alleh's Fault
This could also belong on the What Foreigners Need to Understand About Korea (and Koreans) page. Korea is the well-known to be the most widely internet-connected country in the world. Tell that to a visitor from another country. There are plenty of places that Wi-Fi is available, BUT the fact is that many, many, many places are controlled by Korea Telecom's Alleh. You need to be a member of Alleh in order to connect to Wi-Fi at these hotspots. The problem with becoming a member? You need a national identification number that can be validated by software. And there begins the problem.
Drinking Soju, Vomiting and Fist-Fighting on the Street are Fine, but...
If the Seoul Gyopo Guide listed Annoying Things About Korea in proper order, this might be #1. If you are in Seoul (and other cities) in Korea, then you will easily find people drinking soju while sitting on steps of stores, or company employees vomiting after eating and drinking. On many street corners, you can find people eating fried food which has been prepared in oil that has been sitting for hours (if not longer).
Did You Eat Some Christmas Cake This Year? Hopefully...not.
If you go to Paris Baguette today or anytime during the past week, you would have seen hundreds and hundreds of Christmas Cakes, which have pretty designs and sometimes fruit on top. Well, a brief newsclip that aired on SBS news yesterday pointed out something that is painfully obvious. You, the consumer/eater of the cake, cannot believe the labels. The labels are supposed to put the date until which it is okay to eat the cake. The fact that you cannot believe the label, and that the makers of the cake are not held responsible if the cake is too old to eat, is just one out of literally thousands examples of how Korea does not defend consumer rights.
In other countries, once the "Good Until" date has passed, good are placed on sale. In some cases in Korea, this is also true. However, the SBS news clip showed that these labels were actually removed and replaced with new ones.