Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Seoul Tsunami City Hall, The Other Korean Wave

Just a few pictures in case you missed the inauguration of the new Seoul City Hall (October 13).
 
If you wondered why I nicknamed the project "tsunami" as soon as I saw the first models a couple of years ago*, here's the new City Hall about to crash on the old one:
 
 
Note that the old building, erected during the Japanese occupation, has been converted into a library, and that the second floors of both structures are connected by a footbridge.

Actually I took that picture a few days ahead of the inauguration (October 8). I'd been invited, along with other foreign citizens, to shoot a video celebrating the event. Certainly no Academy Award material, but that was fun. The most embarrassing part was to watch said video as soon as I entered the building on inauguration day... scratch that: knowing that it was also displayed the same evening on the big screen over Seoul Plaza, that probably took the cake:
 
 
While I'm on Seoul Plaza. For the inauguration, the idea was to launch the kind of festive yet informal party a rural village would have for a major event. All citizens were invited**, and many came downtown to enjoy a lovely autumn saturday morning:
 
 
Now Seoul Plaza from above, as if you were riding the wave (9th floor, near the cafe). You can see the vegetable garden on the former City Hall's rooftop, and in the distance Sungnyemun, still under wraps:


From inside the surf tube, you see the green wall and the structure that regulate the building's microclimate*:
 

And if you're lucky, Mayor PARK Won-soon says hello in a final wave:
 

Again, I wish the facade backstage (on Sejong-daero 20-gil) were less miserable and more inviting, because this new and improved City Hall must become a passage point and an articulation for pedestrian circulation downtown. But the building is definitely worth a visit, and it already serves its original purpose: connecting the administration and its services to their environment, the streets and subway nearby, and all citizens.
 
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* see also recently "Seoul Old Towns or New Human Towns? New City Hall or Tsunamheat Wave?"
** including 18 ambassadors. I don't think OH Se-hoon was there, though...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Songdo on the world map (Green Climate Fund)

It's official now: Songdo won over Bonn in the final contest to host the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF - GCFund.net), the initiative created after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Fantastic news for Songdo, Incheon, and Korea:
- A breakthrough for Songdo: beyond the business generated by the institution itself, the decision helps the New Town reach a new dimension, consistent with the project's initial ambitions (international player, eco-friendly). Investors who hesitated will come.
- A confirmation for Incheon: 10 years after the inauguration of ICN, more than ever a major Asian city with a worldwide reach
- A bonus for Korea: the country didn't need it (this week: a seat at the UN Security Council, ranked 8th worldwide for business climate), and it's capital city didn't need it (already in the World's top 10 capital cities). Korea as an "umbrella brand" can leverage on very competitive cities at the international level, and a growing number of new cities are making the news for good and various reasons (culture, sports, business...).

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20121022 UPDATE: Incheon city celebration banner

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Nothing to Envy" - Barbara Demick's portrait of North Korea now an animated feature film

Journalists tell stories. Literally. Barbara Demick is a journalist who tells stories, but with literary value, and without the sensationalistic twist that usually comes with "storytelling". She truly cares about humans, but she also wants to know the big picture, to get the historical perspective, to pull the hidden threads, and to disperse the smokescreens.

Composed around testimonies of North Korean defectors, her award winning book "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" (2009) is a great work of journalism and a great work of literature, at the same time moving and sobering, gripping and timeless. A non-fiction "1984" combined with a non-fiction "Love in the time of Juche", and a unique portrait of the most elusive country on Earth.

Ultimate triumph over North Korean propaganda: the title echoed a 1970 propaganda movie and song, "We have nothing to envy in the World", and now, "Nothing to Envy" the book will be adapted in an animated movie. The first teaser sets the tone:



An unconvenient truth. Nothing to compare with recent PR efforts representing the North Korean movie industry under a very positive angle. You probably heard about the suspicious "Comrade Kim Goes Flying": released at the Toronto Film Festival (ahead of the Pyongyang International Film Festival - a.k.a. the other PIFF from across the DMZ), this European fiction that wasn't shot in 3D, but with rose-colored glasses.

"Nothing to Envy" the film is directed by Andy Glynne and animated by Salvador Maldonado for Mosaic Films, a specialist in animated documentaries.

If you believe animation is a problem because it introduces some distance with reality, particularly since some names have already been changed in the book to protect the interviewees, think about such timeless classics as "Maus" or "Persepolis". This is the only way of showing what can't be filmed, this is the best way of allowing a larger audience to hear the moving voices and stories revealed in Barbara Demick's work.

Like the book, the movie can become a milestone in the representation of North Korea. But this key project needs your support:
- Check the website: nothingtoenvy.net
- Stay tuned and join the Facebook page: facebook.com/NothingToEnvyTheFilm
- Contribute to the fundraising campaign launched earlier this month: indiegogo.com/nothingtoenvy

And of course, read more stories from Barbara*.

Seoul Village 2012
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* About Barbara Demick:
- Beijing Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times (since 2007)
- Seoul Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times (2001-2007)
- Foreign Correspondant in the Middle East, Philadelphia Enquirer (1997-2001)
- Foreign Correspondant in Eastern Europe, Philadelphia Enquirer (1993-1997)
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Barbara-Demick/146638935019
On Twitter: @BarbaraDemick
Books:
- "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" (2009 - nothingtoenvy.com)
- "Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood" (1996)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We reject as false the choice between revisionism and nationalism - for a Global Truth and Reconciliation Network

Interesting roundtable about 'Comfort Women' yesterday at the ASAN Institute*. Q and As were not allowed, but anyway I mostly came to listen, and to see how each player perceived the situation and their own roles. I got the confirmations I expected, but was also glad to hear loud and clear all the major concerns I had regarding the way Korea and Japan are coping with the issue.


From left to right: BAEK Buhm-suk, PARK Gitae, Annabel PARK, YOON Mee-hy James ROTUNDO, Jason KIM*
So where are we standing right now?

For The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, the Japanese government has to perform 7 actions to fully restore the victim's dignity and resolve the crime:
- "acknowledge the war crime
- reveal the truth in its entirety about the crimes of military sexual slavery
- make an official apology
- make legal reparations
- punish those responsible for the war crime
- accurately record the crime in history textbooks
- erect a memorial for the victims of military sexual slavery, and establish a historical museum"

The USA stand for the US House Resolution 121 passed in 2007 with the help of Annabel PARK. Financial reparations may come later, but this is not about money, and money certainly shouldn't be a motive to delay the resolution. It states that "it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan:
(1) should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as 'comfort women', during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;
(2) would help to resolve recurring questions about the sincerity and status of prior statements if the Prime Minister of Japan were to make such an apology as a public statement in his official capacity;
(3) should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the 'comfort women' for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and
(4) should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the 'comfort women'."

Apparently, nothing has changed since the mass protest of last december (see "One Thousand Wednesdays"):
- the "halmoni" keep demonstrating every wednesday, and they're not getting any younger,
- the Japanese government keeps refusing to apologize and to distance itself from the country's darkest moments,
- the Korean government keeps adding "diplomatic" pressure on their Japanese counterparts... without of course restoring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at home
- Korean ultranationalists keep undermining the cause by making a "bibim" with all issues between Korea and Japan, and by attacking everything Japanese

But the Japanese government seems to be significantly losing ground:
- Recent attempts to attack or remove 'Comfort Women' memorials have spectacularly backfired: worldwide media have slammed the radical activist who vandalized the statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and the delegation who tried to have the Palisades Park memorial removed** only managed to raise local, national, and international awareness for the cause they wanted to cover up
- The USA are not only maintaining US House Resolution 121, but also renewing requests: last July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that when it came to qualify those war crimes, 'Enforced Sex Slaves' was more relevant an expression than the mild 'Comfort Women' generally used
- The cause is gaining momentum everywhere, reaching for victims of similar institutionalized sexual slavery systems, even in Africa. You simply can't fight against such an universal cause: when Mayor James RETUNDO tells how he reached the conclusion that a memorial had to be erected in his borough to stand for universal values, he's never raising his voice, only following his heart and his brain. Now Palisades Park can be proud of showing the way for the rest of the world
- More than ever, voices are being heard across the globe, and more than ever from Japanese people who strongly disagree with their own government's behavior. Hundreds of Japanese women have demonstrated in protest earlier this year, and a couple of days ago Yohei Kono, the former Chief Cabinet Secretary who first issued an embryo of apology in 1993, said that persisting in denial was very counterproductive for the nation***.

To me, it's not a matter of if but of when official apologies will be issued, and the more Japan waits, the worst it will get for its image, not to mention of course for the victims. I also know for sure that change cannot come from the corrupt bureaucracy that still today controls the Japanese political system (see "Japan politics? No to Comfort women, yes to Political whoring").

If YOON Mee-hyang regrets that little can be expected from lawmakers who sometimes have familial ties with people who planned or condoned war crimes, she sees hope in Japanese NGOs that disagree with that suicidal position. Annabel PARK met many Japanese people who refuse to see their country associated with unresolved war crimes any longer, and think the time has come to set the record straight, to embrace real democracy, and to reform a political system too often tainted by corruption and incompetence, a sentiment growing considerably after Fukushima. Of course, the hate game between nationalists from both countries perpetuates the gridlock.

Again, war crimes were committed, and again, justice needs to be carried out for the victims as well as for perpetrators, but ultimately, this is between Japan and itself: the Japanese people and the Japanese government must face their country's past if they want to build a better future, and for that they must finally condemn the Imperialist regime, and everything that tried to protect and glorify it afterwards (honoring war criminals, honoring the imperial flag, promoting revisionism, denying war crimes...). Germany did just that and now, everybody makes the difference between the country and Nazism, another regime that committed atrocious crimes and cast a dark shadow over the whole nation. 

Which brings us to the Godwin point I mentioned recently****: the sometimes confusing and abusive parallels with the Holocaust. I'm glad Deputy Major Jason KIM insisted wisely on the necessary distinction between "Japan" the country and "Imperialist Japan" the criminal regime from the past. It's a necessity to depollute a nationalism-contaminated issue, and to help the Japanese people achieve the duty to remember. But in Korea, where too many wounds are still open, many people have a problem grasping this kind of distinctions.

The first time I heard about the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), I was happy to see younger generations get involved in the fight against historical distorsions. But the first time I met their volunteers, I started worrying about how counterproductive it could become. As you well know I strongly denounce the claims on Dokdo by Japan's extreme right, but some of these youngsters were proselytizing as blindly as members of some nationalist cult. Now that I've seen and heard the founder, I understand: Mr PARK Gitae is a very energetic person motivated with the best intentions, but self-restraint and diplomacy are obviously not his forte, and he seems more interested in propaganda techniques than in moral issues. Typically, where everybody else talked about how to ensure peace in the future, Mr Park frantically insisted on copying everything that had been done to "promote" the memory of the Holocaust, mentioning Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" as if it were some kind of PR operation. Maybe because VANK's website is prkorea.org... I guess the time has come to tune up wisdom in the mix for this otherwise formidable tool.

Of course, it's not about Korea vs Japan, and all other members of the roundtable were very clear about that. And the gridlock between the Korean and the Japanese governments will not last long precisely because of the constructive involvement of the international community and international media around them, and because of the grassroot, peaceful involvement of moderate people from all nations who reject as false the choice between revisionism and nationalism.

A Global Truth and Reconciliation Network?

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* "The 'Comfort Women' issue: what is the solution?"(2012/10/10)
An ASAN Institute Roundtable moderated by BAEK Buhm-suk, Research Fellow, The ASAN Institute, with:
PARK Gitae, Founder, VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea)
Annabel PARK, Filmmaker and activist (helped pass the US House Resolution 121 in 2007)
James ROTUNDO, Mayor, and Jason KIM, Deputy Mayor, Palisades Park, NJ (erected the first memorial to the victims outside of Korea)
YOON Mee-hyang, Co-representative, The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (WomenandWar.net)
NB: opening remarks by Hahm Chaibong, President, The ASAN Institute, followed by a chronology by YUN Yelim, Program Officer, The ASAN Institute.

**  "In New Jersey, Memorial for ‘Comfort Women’ Deepens Old Animosity" (NY Times - 20120519)

*** "Japan Must Stop Dodging Sex Slave Guilt, Kono Warns" (Chosun Ilbo - 20121009)

****   "Dokdo, Senkaku, Ieodo, Kuril,... Hashima?"

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20121014 UPDATE: extract from Resolution 121 (HRES 121 EH)
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20121015 UPDATE: a second memorial in New Jersey has been announced this week-end by Bergen County:
http://www.ny1.com/content/your_nj_news_now/170690/bergen-county-to-host-memorial-for-world-war-ii--comfort-women-
Change is coming!!!
PS: I had the pleasure to meet with one of the 'halmoni' yesterday. She radiated so much positive energy and hope, an inspiration for all generations.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dokdo, Senkaku, Ieodo, Kuril,... Hashima?

Some day, Hasbro will make a fortune by releasing a Far East Islands Edition of its popular Risk board game. That would require anamorphic maps where islets no bigger than shrimp farts would outsize mainland China, so that each player could place all his armies and nuclear warheads.

Impossible to list all the hotspots, but they must involve at least two nations. To name some of the biggest stars
- Dokdo (Korean, claimed by Japan)*
- Senkaku (claimed by Japan and China)**
- Ieodo (claimed by Korea and China)***
- Kuril (claimed by Russia and Japan)
- Taiwan (claimed by China and... Taiwan)
- Gushiddink-do (claimed by the Netherlands and Korea... Gus kiddin'. Well barely, actually)
- ...

No one has lived on Hashima since the mid seventies, but no one contests the fact that this speck belongs to Japan. It's just that Korea has something to say about its submission to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

"Do you remember?"
A poster similar to this ad
(published in the NYT last may) has just
been installed on Times Square. Koreans
ask Japanese politicians to officially
apologise, like Chancelor Willy Brandt
did when he knelt in front of the Warsaw
memorial for victims of the Holocaust
Hashima is truly an amazing and spectacular site. Mitsubishi used to own this island very rich in coal: the company built industrial facilities and dwellings over the mine, closed them in 1974, and eventually ceded everything to Nagasaki Prefecture ten years ago. I remember a beautifully scary documentary, a long time ago, about this islet fully covered with abandoned concrete structures on the verge of collapse.

On Thursday****, the Korean government announced that it refused to see Hashima join the UNESCO list in 2015, because that's a place where 800 Koreans were forced into dangerous and inhumane labor, sometimes tortured, or killed. It happened during WWII, and the lucky ones who survived the ordeal were sent to Nagasaki to help clean the mess after the nuclear bombing, adding radiation to insult and injury.

The claim is not new, but new research has been delivered by a governmental agency created in 2005, the Commission on Verification and Support for Victims of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Colonialism, which already revealed last summer that, of the 7.8 million Koreans mobilized under Japanese rule (1910-1945), over 226,000 have been registered as victims.

Lately, Korean authorities have been toying with Godwin's law, and the parallel between atrocities committed across Asia under Imperial Japanese rule, and the Holocaust perpetrated by their Nazi friends in Germany. Like that "Do you remember?" campaign in the US demanding official apologies for sex slavery / "Comfort Women". In the same vein, a UNESCO listing of Hashima as a simple "industrial site" would be equivalent to the listing of Auschwitz-Birkenau under the same category.

Outrageous? Yes, because the Shoah cannot be commoditized. But certainly less outrageous than the parallel between the victims of WWII bombings in Okinawa and the victims of the Pol Pot regime*****.

And certainly less outrageous than the revisionism institutionalized within Japan's political system. Again, Japan's failure to address its duty to remember lies at the root of too many problems. And again, the longer the task is postponed, the higher the risks of fueling anger across the region (particularly since that's the very aim of the game).

I suggest Hashima be listed only if it's with a clear and full mention of all sides of the coin. Visitors should not come out marvelling about the engineering wonder, but thinking about how deep humans can dig themselves into.

I'm not sure Mistubishi will support the motion.


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* see all posts related to Dokdo,
** see the recent focus "Japan politics? No to Comfort women, yes to Political whoring"
*** see "Ieodo: I smell a fish" and other posts related to Ieodo
****  see Korean press, including "Hashima ― forgotten island of tragedy" (Korea Herald 20121004)
** see "Ad Nauseam: about Dark Tourism, the Blind Spots of Memory, and Free Thrashing Agreements"

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UPDATE - typo title

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Nowon confirmed as Seoul's northeast hub

PARK Won-soon recycled yet another project of the OH Se-hoon administration: turning Nowon into Seoul's northeastern hub. The old concept received a boost last month, when the government accepted to lower the share of expenses to be paid by local authorities from 40 to 25%.

Which means two things:
- the extension of Subway Line 4 from Danggogae to Namyangju, first announced in 2007, will be delivered. I had little doubt about that: it was the soundest and most profitable project among the four laid out two years ago (see "Spectacular extensions of Seoul Subway Lines 4-5-6-7 ?" - April 2010, followed by "Seoul subway updates : gos, no-gos, maybes" - January 2011)
- the heart of Nowon, around Nowon Station itself, will be beefed up as scheduled, but instead of the major air terminal initially planned (see my "Nowon-gu" focus of June 2007), a gigantic complex shall rise, with 40+ storey apartment towers, hotels, and a commercial and convention center aiming at rivaling the COEX Mall

After that, Nowon-gu will finally discard its image of bed town, and extend its already strong influence over Gyeonggi-do neighbors: after Jangam new town (Uijeongbu, Line 7), Namyangju new towns (Line 4) are more likely to feel anchored to this hub within Seoul city limits than to their own local administration. 

For Nowon's future commercial hub, the location has long be selected: Dobong Driver's License test grounds and Seoul Metro train depot occupy three quarters of a huge block next to Nowon Station, and both have been expected to move for years. Four important roads surrounding this massive area:
- East: Dongil-ro, northeast Seoul's backbone, between Nowon and Madeul Stations (Line 7).
- South: Sanggye-ro, between Jungnangcheon and Nowon Station (with subway Line 4 overground)
- West: Dongbu Expressway, along Jungnangcheon

- North: Nowon-ro, in front of Jungang Apt Block 10 and Nowon High School, leading to Sanggye Bridge and Dobong-gu.

The extension of Line 4 also confirms Nowon Station as Northeast Seoul's brightest spot:
- To the West, Dobong Station (Lines 1 and 4) will be even more distanced. Yes, the Uijeongbu axis is bound to grow stronger, and the future Suyu LRT won't be that far, but if Seoul reaches further northwards, it will be through Line 7. For the people living in Jangam new town, even from the other side of Seoul Ring Expressway (# 100), Nowon Station feels already much closer than downtown Uijeongbu.
- Along Line 7, Nowon's closest rival lies far down south, at the intersection with Line 2: Konkuk University Station has been completely revived by the Starcity - Emart complex. Gunja (intersection with Line 5) has some potential, and Taereung may go up should Line 6 be prolonged, but catching up with Nowon won't be that easy.
- The old but vital Line 4 vertical already connects Seoul with southern Gyeonggi-do, carrying people from 5 cities (Siheung, Ansan, Gunpo, Anyang, and Gwacheon) straight into 9 of the capital's 25 districts (Seocho, Dongjak, Yongsan, Jung, Jongno, Seongbuk, Gangbuk, Dobong, Nowon). But if Nowon was the last frontier new town back in the late 1980s, it is now becoming the entry point to Seoul for a new generation of new towns, this time from northeast Gyeonggi-do.

In a diagonal parallel to the Gyeongcheon Line (railway for Chuncheon), the 14.5 km extension from Danggogae will create three stations in the city of Namyangju: Byeollae (Byeollae-dong), Onam (Onam-eup), and Jinjeop (Jinjeop-eup). All three correspond to new towns, not to mention (see reminder) today's terminal itself, Danggogae Station, at the center of the future Sanggye New Town. I bet many inhabitants may feel more like in an extension of Nowon-gu than in a new Namyangju neighborhood: there's no direct railway connection to Namyangju city hall in Geumgok-dong, and Nowon Station with its city hall and attractions is just 1 to 4 stations away.

Sanggye, Danggogae, and Byeollae all lie along Deongneung-ro, an axis already very congested by traffic jams. The only road cutting through Buramsam (in its middle) became an important entry point into northeastern Seoul when the Seoul Ring Expressway was completed: located halfway between Uijeongbu I.C. and Guri I.C., Byeollae I.C. instantly relieved the saturated Toegyewon I.C. gateway. But the road was not dimensioned for that traffic, and turned into a bottleneck.

Construction for the subway shall start in 2015 and end in 2019, but expect more hiccups on the way, starting with the feasibility studies planned during 2013, after the elections.

To be continued.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

"Wegwa Bang" or "Magic Meshroom"? The gimchi hit the fan anyway

If Korea's obsession with plastic surgery is not really new, the madness has clearly reached bubble status*. And just like with real estate, we'll have to live for decades with a pervasively disfigured city. Literally.

Twenty years ago, eyes and noses already sold like pancakes (I mean like cosmetics, another flourishing industry here), and girls already disregarded natural Korean beauty. They wanted Western volumes, manga-size eyes, and the fabled "double eyelids", probably the silliest vanity of all.

Now it's a complete Face Off they want. Boys and adults as well as girls. Except that instead of trading John Travolta for Nicolas Cage (or your wolf face for Droopy's - boo), everybody gets the same k-pop emoticon of the month. And now, I just can't stand watching Korean TV: it's a permanent masquerade, without any single human face in sight. But a sad masquerade, not like in "Brazil", Terry Gilliam's hillarious satire. And a 'sleek' one: not like in a low-cost sci-fi flick from the sixties, rather like in a more recent dystopian movie, where "beautiful", brainless clones roam aseptic, eugenic labs. Actually, I can't tell who's Korean anymore since everybody jumped on the lunatic bandwagon across the region.

Pick up any celeb (and not necessarily the odd mickeyrourkish train wreck):  the timeline may not look as spectacular as Michael Jackson's, but you'll notice a small change every six month. Consider those as "soft hardware updates". In Korea, not everyone is running on Android 4.0, and that's the same: sometimes, the gimchi hits the fan during a major update, between say Kim XY 2.3 and Kim XY 3.0, but in general, you'll get masses stuck with features from 2008 or 2010 k-pop icons, those who can afford several upgrades, and the happy few who splurge on custom designer services and holistic anti-ageing treatments.

So you'll find everything between exclusive institutions designed like 7 star hotels, and two-room 'clinics' for bballi bballi services. I call the latter "wegwa bang" (a surgery bang equivalent to PC bang or norae bang), and the former "magic meshrooms" (the complex technical centers where 60 year old ajumas who look 20 get backhauled while chatting with their chakra concierges). 

My favorite ad for plastic surgery (picture taken last year near Ewha, a wegwa bang hotspot)
Of course it's not about beauty but about image. Brands, glossy magazines, the film of yourself you're projecting in your head, even as you're watching the mirror, even as you're watching somebody else watching you... any artificial distance you can put between you and your own self.

Like tatooing among soccer players, plastic surgery has become if not the norm at least a standard. Remember the origin of the word "standard": tatoos are not taboos anymore, and everybody you know knows you've gone under the scalpel. No one cares if Miss Korea is actually Miss Plastic, everybody does it. Like paying a fortune in "hagwon". But hagwons can't guarantee you a top university and here, someone else does the work for you, and you always get what you paid for. Not satisfaction, of course. Not even an exterior sign of wealth (even if you need it as much as you needed that Vuitton bag). Simply this message: "You've been updated", you're not lagging behind. Eventually, your body is like your handbag: yet another fashion accessory that will become obsolete next season. Yet another must-have-must-see-must-do in Korea's absurd arms race. With a nice a brand tag on it.

And a nice price tag as well. No wonder so many surgeons open their own "wegwa bang", much more lucrative than day to day operations where fees are severely controled and reduced to the minimum. That's why you see overqualified physicians mechanically "treat" twenty patients every hour like armies of robots, and give up for plastic surgery before they screw up like Chaplin in "Modern Times".

Android rules. Over smartphones as well as over dumbhumans.


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* can you hear the sound of "K-popping bubbles"?

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