Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bizarre videos and the ever-evolving Republic of Korea

It's been fourteen years now since my twelve months in the ROK, and it's fascinating to watch that country change bit by bit each year via the internet. Especially when something like this video comes along.

I won't say that a girl could have been stoned to death then for wearing a short skirt or shorts like in this video, but the repercussions would have been ugly. When I was there in 1997, the sexual revolution was only just kicking off.

How do I know this? More than one younger Korean in his or her early twenties used exactly that turn--"sexual revolution"--to describe what was happening in their country. They quite consciously evaluated those event in comparison with the sexual revolution of the 1960s that had played out in the West.

At any rate, a young woman showing as much flesh as these ladies would have been in for a whole lot of public scorn back then. That and if their families did not cut them off, they would have still had a difficult time finding anyone to marry them.

Or maybe not. Individual allowances must always be made of course, and changes were already underway then.

It's also amazing for me how much more media- and culture-centered South Korea is now. Back in '97 it was still very much a place where things were made. It was a country focused much more on industry and farming. However, South Korea very deliberately set out to catch the IT wave of the 1990s as well as create a world-class entertainment sector.

The story--as I understand--was that the president of the ROK was floored after watching Jurassic Park back in 1994. He asked a minister how much the film grossed, and upon hearing the figure, promptly ordered the creation of a Hollywood style film industry.

I wonder what it's like these days be a young American visiting the Land of the Morning Calm. It must be entirely different with the threat of imminent war gone and the people of South Korea experimenting with the possibilities and pitfalls that an economy of affluence offers rather than struggling to make a living in a rough industrial economy.

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