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So, the press is begrudgingly getting around to the fact that rape and assault are becoming rampant here. But still, nobody wants to do anything about it.
I have a colleague working in the Korean Institute of Public Health (sorry, I don't remember the exact organziation title in Korean, so my English translation of it might be off), and she says over dinner that, in public health circles, random violence resulting from ajussis and other older members of society acting out or who are straight up mentally ill is considered a discrete and major problem. And this is linked, she says, to public drunkenness, another major problem and exacerbating factor.
I even wrote a a guide about how to avoid assault as a foreigner in Korea back in 2008, since I think being foreign is one of the "attractors" that get us noticed by drunk, bitter, older Korean men who feel society has screwed them over or passed them by. And what gets these men mad are young, apparently "uppity" women, attractive women, and foreigners. The stories of netizens engaging in the mass "social disciplining" of apparently errant members of society (the infamous "dog poop girl," various girls in foriegn bars, girl vs. cleaning lady, student beat up by crazy homeless woman) all notably revolve around young women. Even the social character of the "daenjang girl" who is materialistic and vain, only revolves around women.
This society is in the middle of a serious social backlash against women, and certain men at the extremes, who are either mentally ill or harboring mysogynistic tendencies, take it out on women all the time.
To add to the misogyny argument is that fact that society in general protects the men who engage in extreme antics, such as raping or assaulting or "just touching" women against their will. Little things such as mandatory sentencing -- or mandatory arrests in rape charges -- make a huge difference. As a once-presidential hopeful from France now knows. Mandatory sentences and arrests make it impossible for things like the police getting bribes or a phone call from up high and not arresting three boys who obviously need to go straight to "fuck-me-in-the-ass" federal prison for a while.
Anyway, I digress. And that last media reference was vague. I'll stop here and let you take it all in yourselves.
"I love the smell of unapologetic misogyny in the morning!"
My argument has always been that with Korea's robust internet infrastructure, it should have been the breeding ground for the growth of global internet companies from Korea, on the level of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Digg, examples ad infinitum.
But it hasn't been. Korea hasn't grown a SINGLE world-level Internet brand or idea. Not a one. I'm not talking about tech and infrastructure and things. I'm talking about the "cultural content" (문화컨텐츠) that's the buzzword these days, as well as the huge amounts of "soft power" that Korea's supposed to have, which people like former culture minister and public intellectual Lee O young (이어령) are always pushing as the next frontier for Korea to conquer. "Nation Branding" is a complete failure, and that I define not as the absence of an image or a set of associations for Korea, but that the government and private bodies who strive to achieve mastery over the message of Korea's brand have not had any success. After millions of dollars and much fretting, years later, Korea -- as the sum of many campaigns, silly slogans, and irrelevant mascots -- is no more able to actively control the message and its image than any time before.
As much as the Korean goverment is pushing esoteric Chosun-era, royal foods, Korean BBQ and chicken dominate, especially in the Koreatowns across the world. A tipping point factor? In LA, one reasons Korean places became so popular, besides the good food and universal appeal of roasting meat, is because they stay open late and ignore no-smoking laws. And the universal combination of chicken and beer is so successul because -- DUH -- in the States these days, there's no established way to consume chicken and beer! Together, that is. Fried chicken is primarily delivered through fast food restaurants, or as dinner. But not as a specialty unto itself.
But it wasn't top-down, Korean government campaigns that were responsible for any of Korean food's popularity.
Nor with kimchi, whose growth in popularity has been as organic as most of its ingredients. While the government now is singing the praises of fermentation (and, no, it's "not sexy"), or people are still worried about whether "it might be too hot for foreigners" (umm, guys, we're not "foreigners" in our own countries, can we do something about that term?), or if it smells too bad (note that feta cheese is very popular, but it literally smells like shit), kimchi's popularity has simply naturally grown. The involvement of Korean government suits hasn't affected things one bit, either way.
Same goes for Korean film, pop, and the like. Certain things become popular on their own merit, but the government is inherently incapable of pushing anything that people actually like or want, before the government knows that people like or want it, before it becomes an obvious trend. Remember that Old Boy, a film the government would never have wanted "foreigners" to see had it not won at Cannes, started the so-called "wave" as the government named it, but that was more the result of the relaxing of censorship laws and the maturation of the Korean film industry, which was more of a "perfect storm" than a perfected plan.
And back to the failure of the Korean Intranet. Korean business and forward planning in general is all about laying the groundwork and creating the environment for growth. That's why we have specially zoned areas like Guro and such, so as to grow certain industries. But what about the Korean Inter(intra)net? We are talking about Korea's "soft power" in having a culture that can be promoted and spread overseas, Korea being a hub of "cultural content" production, etc.
But no one is willing to ask the obvious question of why there isn't a Korean Google, YouTube, or ANYTHING on global level? We've ALREADY done the experiment, which has to do with the creation of the concrete conditions conducive to the building of stuff -- the Korean Internet had/has all the technical advantages there can be -- no "digital divide," broadband internet penetration on a level that boggles the mind, widespread computer/electronic literacy, no upload speed caps, you NAME it.
Where has Korea's "soft power" been? Sitting idly by, waiting for just the right moment to formulate itself?
People are afraid to deal with a key issue -- while Korean IT and infrastructure, with the help of the government clearing a path, has done really well as a physical structure, where's the beef? Why has it FAILED to produce anything?
You know what the answer is here.
It's other factors -- the "soft" ones that have added up to a crisis. An outdated, colonial education system that has evolved into increasingly more stringent, but less educationally-effective testive regime, a social structure that owes more to nearly a century of militarized culture than true Confucianism, and the myriad ways that has added up to stifling innovation, not rewarding creativity, penalizing people for having new ideas, and causing an aversion to risk.
All of THESE things are the key to LEVERAGING whatever potential for "soft power" you might have. But would anyone really argue that Korea is a culture -- on ANY level -- that encourages innovation, creativity, risk-taking, and going against the grain?
Somewhere in the magical mix that created global companies, which were ALL created WITHOUT major government help running interference, since if you remember, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Facebook, Digg, etc. were once the ideas of nerdy punk kids with an idea in their figurative garages -- creativity, risk-taking, innovative thinking were all KEY ingredients.
That's what's missing in the Korea's secret sauce here.
And government can't help with it. Even the PERFECT infrastructure and growth environment didn't help Korean IDEA PRODUCTION one bit.
And now that the Korean Internet has essentially been OPENED by the smartphone, mobile devices, and open-source software and such, Korean Internet is in no condition to even compete.
As a person who'd LIKE to see Korea produce some ideas, who'd LIKE to see Korean "soft power" find traction, I'm worried. I'd call this a crisis. Twitter came in here and kicked Me2Day's ASS. Facebook is about to put the finishing moves on Cyworld. Groupon and dozens of others are entering the markets agresssively. And yeah, Google is working out, improving its Korean searches (have you used Google these days in Korean recently?!) and pumping up its muscles, like the little dawg on the cellblock who is prepping to someday soon make the big man in the yard his little byatch.
Excuse my French, but things aren't looking good.
But like before, I'll probably be accused, at worst, of fan-boy boosterism (remember my predictions about the iPod or UCC or Facebook -- "you're crazy! Koreans will never..."), or at worst, of being "anti-Korean."
More predictions to come true: Korean Facebook users are being added in exactly the REVERSE direction that they were in the States. Here's it's also classed and cultured -- those with more interntional biz/social connections were there first, concomitant with English-speaking Koreans, and those who were generally more tech-savvy and open-minded. It tended to start with professionals in their late 20's/30's and internationally-based students in their early 20's. Right now, Koreans in high school and below are the last to go. But they'll be mostly on board by the end of the year, and Cyworld is going to shit a 황소.
Twitter's won. Game over.
Tumblr's only being used by those in-the-know, the super-coolios, as in the States, but it's spreading.
The smartphone is driving it all -- Korean friends, all the time, say things like, "I plan to register for Facebook as soon as I get my smartphone!" And after they "study" it, with the help of a couple best-selling books with titles such as "How to Use Facebook" and such.
And Google? With the infiltration and integration of Android, along with it generally being the standard on the iPhone as well, Google is getting trojan-horsed in like a mofo.
Bad news for Naver. Along with its archaic, pay-for-play search results. And the more financially squeezed Naver gets, the more it'll sully the quality of its search results. Even as Google has a worldwide user base and many more income streams, such that it doesn't have to compromise the quality of its search.
Google making Naver its bitch? Crazy talk?
When I was talking up YouTube Korea, when I was involved in its launch, everyone laughed. Korean video sites are so much faster! And they have HD (YouTube was just starting then). YouTube "isn't right for Koreans" (I haven't heard THAT a dozen times!) And with the real-name verification system, YouTube doesn't even have an advantage here -- and yet, they're still the standard.
When's the last time a high school kid uploaded a video to MNCast to expose an abusive teacher?
Oh, right. MNCast doesn't exist anymore. And the videos on domestic systems -- along with most of their content -- are just rips off of YouTube, or put there as an afterthought.
Whatever. I'll be right about this again, and when it all comes true, people will respond like they knew it all along. I'm just glad these blog posts have date stamps.
I wouldn't be writing this if I weren't wincing at the idea of "Korea" getting its ass kicked on the playground. Or slowly being made into a bitch in its own backyard.
I like to put my money where my mouth is, so here's a real set of 4 commercials that illustrate my point that Korean cultural promotion can be much more effective by touting EXPERIENCE-based narratives, rather than the standard hodge-podge of fan dances, palaces, and strings of random imagery united by nothing other than the common theme of being somehow "Korean" in the simplistic, nationalist sense.
With this kind of marketing, you have to get right to the USP, but also tell the viewer "this is what you will get or experience if you come here." You have to tell the viewer why they would plunk down thousands of dollars to come all the way across the world to KOREA, specifically. Just because Koreans are a proud people have 5,000 years of history - in short, because Koreans WANT you to come? How selfish, on a certain level. And totally uncompelling.
I'm not saying THESE particular spots or this campaign is the one. It is here to illustrate my point and show directly what I am talking about. Hopefully, it might act as a good tool for discussion, perhaps someone at STO or KTO might read this and find it useful. My point is that this style of campaign is more in line with what the target audience needs, as opposed to what Korean suits have been giving them, and wasting millions of dollars of Korean taxpayers' money. I and a few others could make these videos for a pittance.
This campaign will work because:
-- it tells a story, which good ads do
-- it doesn't suffer from "Korean myopia," i.e. Koreans showing foreigners what Koreans want to show them, as opposed to what they might WANT TO SEE
-- it does it serially and non-linearly so it can be told across a range of media
-- it presents lesser-known aspects of Korean culture for an "ahhh" feeling, while also working with some things people already know about Korea
-- it appeals to anyone from the open-minded backpacker who might add Korea to a trip to Asia or visit a friend there, to the middle-aged European couple who might bring the entire family and tour Asia for six weeks in the summer
-- it presents what Korean promotions never do: the "unique selling proposition" of Korea vs. other places
-- it presents Korea's strengths without nationalistic bragging
-- it doesn't present false superlatives that disappoint and offend (in being both untrue and inherently denigrating)
-- use of imagery is tight and controlled, not a hodge-podge of confusing codes and standards
-- it will be in a western "friendly/casual" tone, not the Korean "officious/formal" one
"COME HOME TO KOREA" Campaign (4 varied short films, have the potential to go viral, especially the comedic one.
"WHERE THE REAL FUN BEGINS"
[Grandiose, sweeping view of the Great Wall.]
"When you come to Asia, you have to visit the Great Wall of China..."
[Drum beat cues us to fade in of MT. Fuji]
"...and you cannot miss the majesty that is Japan's Mt. Fuji..."
[Fade to black.]
"But once you've done the tourist thing..."
"Let the REAL fun begin!"
[Explosion of images of night club dancing, clinking soju glasses, roasting meat, fashion show runway, traditional festival in the city, movie shoot, fashionable kids in the street waving, getting a massage, all punctuated to fast-moving, edgy music.]
"When you come to Asia, come home to Korea." [by the end]
[Snappy graphic and final, upbeat voiceover]
"Korea. Where the REAL fun begins."
[Slow-moving visuals of the open spaces of 경복궁, 창덕궁, 덕수궁, reed flute, Oriental sounds]
[ This is a detailed, interesting presentation of why Korean palaces are different from other places in Asia.]
"They are defined by their open spaces and emptiness as much as the buildings. They concept of feng shui guides their construction and channels spiritual energy into them. In a Korean palace, what you don't see is as important as what you do."
[We pull back into the air from a lone foreign figure, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath with a smile, all the way out to the entire palace, swoosh through a city, into the graphic.]
"Experience Korea, go deeper."
"FEEL THE STILLNESS"
[Cuts from popular films showing monks, both silly and solemn, from meditating ones from 'Kung Fu' to the Shaolin monks of the '39 Chambers']
"You've seen temples. You've seen monks."
[Popular shot of shirtless Bruce Lee]
"You probably know what focused concentration can do for your body."
[More serious long shot starting on a single monk meditating, pulling back to reveal an entire room or even field of people doing something the same, group exercise, meditation]
"Maybe you've even tried mediation to clear your mind and clean your soul."
[Stunning shot of Korean mountains, temples on the hills]
"Now come home to Korea, which has the most mountains and temples in Asia!"
[Zooming in on a large group of Korean monks meditating, ends on a close shot of a single, obviously non-Korean, young person mediating along with the rest]
"In a Korean temple stay, you don't have to just watch. Come be one with the monks, one with the mountains. Be a monk for a day. Or a week. Feel at home."
[Fade out on meditating tourist-monk.]
[Slow fade-in on logo]
"Come to Korea and feel the stillness."
"WE USUALLY BREAK THE BOARDS'
[Shot inside Taekwondo hall, large and traditional, wooden floor, big Taegukki in the back, students practing forms in unison. We cut to a small group gather reed around the master, looking serious and poised in front of a stack of concrete blocks]
[British-accented male voiceover, very David Attenborough]
"9th-degree Taekwondo and 7th-degree hapkido grandmaster Hong-Seok Kim, coach for the Korean national team during the 1988 Olympic games and author of the martial arts bestseller "Way of the Tiger," will channel his Ki energy into breaking 3 concrete blocks, which according to physics calculations, would require 3000 foot-pounds of perfectly-directed force to even crack."
[Master Kim has been meditating, measuring the block with his hands and head, solemnly preparing his Ki energy during this extremely long voiceover. Now, he prepares for the decisive head thrust.]
[Master Kim's head makes violent contact with the blocks, at which point he rears back and falls to the floor in agony, curls into fetal position, moaning. His assistants and official suits rush to his aid. We kinda saw this coming, but were taken in by the serious tone.]
[Now-discombobulated narrator haltingly finishes the commercial as shaky-cam resets to final shot of the hall, and we fade to the official logo.
"Umm...Korea! Where we usually...ahem...break the blocks...most of the time...
[quietly, as if off-mike, in lower-class Brit accent]
"THAT look like it bloody hurt? Is he bleeding...?"
[Simple fade out.]
The Easy English Series of written content on this blog is designed to give actually interesting and educational content to English teachers based in Korea who need 1) compelling content to encourage discussion, 2) content that is somewhat Korea-specific, yet places Korea and Korean culture into an international context, and 3) is written at a lower level, designed for middle and secondary school students. Like the BombEnglish.com project, which provides Korea-specific content at the advanced level, there is a dearth of good content designed for the less-advanced learner of English. This content was the result of a textbook project I was doing for a large hagwon company, and the passages published here are part of a huge chunk of the project for which I was unpaid and left swinging in the wind. But I always like to make lemon meringue pie out of my lemons, so I will using some of the remaining content to start this Easy English Series here on my blog, and thereafter will write new ones. The series will go once a week, and all teachers should feel free to use the content, reprint it, and otherwise do what you will with it, as long as it is attributed to me. You might even throw out a link if you're so inclined. I know how hard it is to get middle/high school students to talk, or at least to talk about something outside of pop music or TV shows. I hope that this Korean-specific content, which is not afraid to court controversy and disagreement, but most importantly, encourages critical thinking, helps you in your teaching, lesson planning, and being a real teacher who can manage to change minds, rather than be cogs in the soul-crushing, dream-demolishing machine of death that is the English education industry here. Hardworking English teachers of Korea, I salute you!
TIPS FOR USE:
The long passage sets the stage, often provides background information. The short passages are related, but usually present smaller cases, specific examples that illustrate the larger theme. I try to keep the use of complex compound sentences to a minimum, but I do drop in mostly theme-specific (and less occasionally general) harder vocabulary words, but set against fairly simple and straightforward prose. The material does not hesitate to make assertions, but also presents clear openings for discussion. I hate wishy-washy content that seemingly encourages discussion, but just equivocates, hems and haws into neutral meaningless positions. Add stats and facts to the discussions, have the students disagree with the assertions, but demand that they back up their disagreements, and really use the material to both educate, but also destroy myths, fallacies, and non-rigorous thinking. I apologize in advance for typos. Please note them in the comments section and I will correct them in the post.
The Silent Crisis
Korea is facing another problem. However, unlike the "IMF crisis," this problem is not so easy to see. And it is not economic. It has nothing to do with trade or the FTA. It also has nothing to do with North Korea. No, Korea's problem is much more silent, as well as hard to see. Korea's problem is cultural. It cannot produce "cultural content" very well.
Korea has a special problem. For most of the Republic's short history, Korea has not produced its own pop culture content. Also, although Korea's own traditional culture is interesting, so far, the government and the cultural industries have not promoted it very well.
One source of the problem seems to be with an education system that does not encourage creativity. In fact, the entire education and social system discouraeges creativity. In Korean culture, being different is not good. Diagreeing with your teacher is not seen as good. Talking too much in class is bad. Quitting school to start your own company is seen as crazy. Why not go the safe route?
For example, most of Korean television has been copied from Japan. The comedy, talk, and variety shows are copied directly, as are many commercials. In fact, it is an industry secret that many Korean PD's go to Japan, check into a hotel, and just watch Japanese TV with a pen and pad for a week.
And in some ways, there is nothing wrong with copying. Indeed, throughout Korea's development, this was the safe and efficient path. From the 1950's, Korean companies copied American car engines, radios, televisions, and other things by "reverse engineering." Instead of learning them from scratch, it was easier to just find a finished item, take it apart piece-by-piece, and learn it backwards. You don't engineer from the front, by yourself, but learn in reverse, by taking it apart and copying. Koreans were smart and clever at this, and it helped build Korea's first big conglomerates, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and Goldstar (now called LG).
The same is true in other industries. Korea did not invent the pager; the US did. But they were better at developing many more models of pager, smaller ones, colorful ones, more fun ones. The same is true for the cellphone -- Motorola invented it. But Korean companies made them better, stronger, and just cooler. So it goes for the Internet, which the US invented. But Koreans adopted it faster, used it more, and demanded higher speeds. Wireless Internet? Again, America invents it, Korea improves it. Korea is the only country in the world where you can use wireless Internet from a taxi.
And this pattern has worked for cultural industries, too. Frankly, it is an efficient strategy. Developing something from nothing takes a lot of time and money. Copying something that already exists is far, far cheaper. And when Korea was developing, and the economy depended on heavy industry such as factories, shipping, and steel, no one cared much about Korea's cultural industries.
But now, the world is smaller. And Korea has gotten "bigger." Now, the world is watching Korea, so copyright has become more important. In 1995, if a Korean music group copied an American song, no one really cared. Now, if the same happens, the company cares -- a lot. And since Korea's economy has shifted from an industrial to an "information economy," cultural industries are suddenly very important.
Unless Korea changes its education and social culture to be more creative, and also changes its bad industrial habit of copying, Korea is in big trouble. How can an economy dependent on creativity come from a culture that discourages creativity and encourages copying? This is the quiet crisis that Korea faces.
The Real Korean Cloning Problem
Let's think about pop music. All the major genres in Korea are American. Of course, the singers and performers are Korean, but the genres - the musical styles -- are directly from the US. Hard rock, rap, heavy metal, R&B, and even the "bubble gum pop" of singers like 2NE1 and the Wonder Girls -- they are all American. Lee Hyori has recently been in trouble for copying American songs, but her case is actually not so unusual. The real problem is that the entire Korean pop music industry generally just copies. This has gotten even worse since the 1990s. If Britney Spears is popular in the US, there will be a Korean version immediately in Korea, or Beyonce, or Lady Gaga. Of course, this is OK for Korean audiences. But do non-Koreans want to listen to Korean copies of American music? Case in point: the Korean media greatly exaggerated Rain's popularity Rain in the US; actually he was not. In the end, not enough people bought his tickets to support his US tour, and it was cancelled. This is exactly the problem. In the short-term, it is easy to copy and make music for the local market, which may even include places like Taiwan and the Phillipinnes. But in the global market, why would the rest of the world want to listen to copied American music?
Hard vs Soft Power
Cultural content is a part of "soft power." The "hard power" of a country is in the economy, trade, finance, military, etc. This is what the US and Europe have a lot of, and countries like China is gaining. Soft power includes things like literature, movies, music, and just about any kind of culture area, including food, dance, and such. America, unlike some other countries, has a lot of both hard and soft power. Hollywood is a perfect example of America's soft power, as well as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, or Madonna. No matter how powerful the Soviet Union was in terms of hard power, no one in the US knew any Russian pop songs. But every teenager in the world knew the words to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Korea has developed its hard power by an amazing amount. But does soft power automatically follow hard power? From looking at recent world history, the answer is "No." But Korea's strategy of developing its soft power industries (its cultural industries) is too much like the strategy of developing its hard power -- copying and the support of big government. In the end, this will not work. We need to address the problem, not just fix it's symptoms.
America - Soft Power Superpower
As everyone knows, America is a soft power superpower. Some cynical people say that the soft power just comes from America's hard power. But this is a weak argument. Just because Germany has the largest economy in Europe doesn't mean Europeans will listen to German music. No, there is something special about the origins of America's soft power. America is the place where many, many cultures came crashing together. Nowhere else in the world did so many races, cultures, religions, different people come together so quickly. So, America had religious music that comes from black slavery, which mixes with European church hymns, which becomes the music we know as "the blues." If you mix that with the simple rhythms of Scotch-Irish and German immigrants living in the country, with their violins and guitars, you get "country music." Later, more combinations and changes happen, producing jazz music, rock 'n roll, and this becomes R&B, heavy metal, and pop music. Then new forms come along from different experiences, such as rap music, which came from NYC in the 1970's, which has no instruments. From there grows house music, drum&bass, and electronica. This is the natural soft power of a super-dynamic culture. Maybe a multicultural society has a real soft power advantage over monocultural ones. It is something worth thinking about.
Why, you might ask, should certain images stop being used in advertisements and other promotions aimed at non-Koreans? Well, because they're cliched and trite, mostly, and based upon faulty assumptions of what foreigners know/can know about Korea. They also are images that are the result of an ethnocentric myopia that produces images of what Koreans think foreigners should see about Korea, as opposed to what a non-Korean might want to see. Cases-in-point: putting singer Rain in a "Korea, Sparkling" ad when most people in the target market has no idea who he is. Means a lot to Koreans, but nothing to non-Koreans. Same with an ad that put Korea's president at the time on the screen, which was an expression of desperation in itself -- note, you shouldn't have to put your nation's political leader into tourism ads, hawking the nation's wares, especially when no one knows what he looks like. Besides you, that is.
And certain images, such as b-boys breakdancing, has meaning more to Koreans than outsiders. What do break dancers mean to Koreans? The practitioners and the only-recently-recognized art form in Korea symbolize a shift to more cultural openness and a new fusion that exists between "East" and "West" and are living symbols of the "new" that goes with Korea's "old." We're dynamic and hip, dude!
To say, North Americans and especially beyond, they're symbols of American culture. Or black American culture. What do break dancers have to do with Korea, again? Oh -- I get it. Korea's hip and cool. Err, kinda. It's trite and cliched. Think about it another way. I'm watching a commercial promoting Malaysia as the "new destination in Asia" or some shit. And then I see break dancers pop-locking across the screen. WTF?
So, with that, I begin the perfunctory and arbitrary Top Ten list of images, cliches, and other annoying contrivances that I never, ever want to see again, and which sully or confuse Korean brand imaging:
10) People breakdancing, especially with other folks in Korean traditional clothing and/or playing traditional Korean instruments. I just think -- why the fuck am I watching "Breaking: Electric Boogaloo" in some Korean tourism spot? And anyway, it's cliche. Get over this image, please.
9) Grinning Korean celebrities smiling and holding their arm out in any welcoming gesture, or in the direction of another graphic. We don't know who they are, and even if we do, it looks desperate. Kim Yuna sells everything, but I don't want to see her in her skates in a Korean tourism ad. Do you really think that makes me want to come to Korea more, or does it just make you look desperate to try anything?
8) Foreigners marveling at things that are actually quite normal, or at least not worth busting a nut over. Like trying a dish, at which point a look of astonishment and wonder washes over the white face of the taster, who then gives an overly-hearty thumbs up and a smile right into the camera. Cue vomiting.
7) Obviously forced shots of foreigners looking into the camera and yelling unison the words "Fighting" or "Number one!" Or the words "I love Korea!" It's obvious and contrived, unconvincing, and I'm not fucking 5 years old. Korean media people underestimate their audiences, even their own Korean ones. People these days watch The Sopranos, CSI, 24, and other shit. The average media consumer isn't a child anymore. And web-savvy and relatively more media-sophisticated foreigners certainly don't respond to "Korean kimchi, number one! I love Korea!" That's just plain fucking lame and lazy.
6) Any swooshing graphics, energetic bass lines punctuating video, or those awful synthesizer orchestra "hits." No trumpets played over news footage of Koreans winning any prize, and you only get to show either the national flag or a graphic of the peninsula on the map, not both, and only once.
5) No images of factories producing cars, robotic arms putting microchips onto a circuit board, or Korean tech workers wearing white suits in a clean room, inspecting a machine part prominently in front of their visor and before the camera. For that matter, no shots of Koreans in anything white, for safety's sake. That would eliminate the danger of researchers in white jackets, scientists in white jackets, or doctors in white jackets. Taekwondo is an exception, though. Those things they wear when doing the cool, jumpy, spinny stuff aren't jackets.
4) The use of any superlatives. Korea is the "best" or "most" of anything, or being the anything-est in Asia, or the "first" when they weren't (note Yonsei, you weren't/aren't "the first and the best" at anything, at least according to any list I've seen lately). Koreans just literally make that shit up, and it just sounds either arrogant or annoying, and often, both. Shit, even Harvard would never arrogate themselves to have a slogan like "the first and the best", even though there's some legitimate argument to both claims. You just sound like a dick.
3) Authoritative narrative voiceovers. Try to sound friendly and engaging. Again, not like a know-it-all dick. Western media left that behind in the 1960's. Except for James Earl Jones saying "This is CNN" or something, which is cool. But there's a reason Morgan Freeman does so many voiceovers. He's nice. James Earl Jones was Darth Vader. Americans are afraid of Darth Vader. He's your father, he cut off your arm, and he's a dick. Westerners don't like authority. Koreans are still used to Park Chung Hee, Chun Doo Hwan-style, apparently. In Korea, father still knows best, it seems. In the West, daddy cut off our arm, symbolically castrated us, and that pisses us off. Germans, Italians, and many others don't like big daddy figures any more (you know who I'm talking 'bout, ya'll). Darth Vader encapsulated western fears in 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back," as he uttered the words that reverberated in our culture across the decades, with "No, Luke. *I* am your father." He was the big, black dick who threatened the very integrity of the known universe. Anyway, it's very Freudian. Just trust me on this one.
2) Don't ever make a picture of a Korean woman in a royal, Chosun-era hanbok prominently using a cellphone again, ever. EVER. I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I saw that.
1) Stop using the word "wave" with anything related to Korea again. The "wave" has ebbed, and no one but Koreans who read their own press releases (because that's what the reporting generally was) believed in any fucking "wave," anyway. And once the suits got into it, they ruined it, anyway. You raised censorship restrictions, Korean media has high production values these days, you no longer live in a military dictatorship and have actual freedom of expression. So now, you have some media that non-Koreans might actually find interesting. Cool. Don't get a huge fucking complex, or have a touchdown party every time some Korean actor shows up in a 3rd-rate Hollywood film. You're not destined to "take over" or "dominate" anyone else's film industry. You just have freedom of speech, good production values, and more artists making cultural products than during the old days of dictatorship and economic deprivation. Cool, we like you, welcome to the club. Just attend a few meetings before declaring yourself president.
As those of you who've been paying special attention during my long bouts of blogging inactivity will know, I've been heavily involved with organizations and committees tasked with the job of promoting Korea as a tourist destination, or Korean culture itself. I do a bit of work here and there for government bodies, and am a member of the mostly-symbolic Presidential Commission on Nation Branding. And the closer I get to the core, the more clear it becomes that the promotion of "Brand Korea" is inherently crippled and continuously doomed to failure.
The main problem with the promotion of Korea, above several others, is that Korean ethnocentric myopia, or what I affectionately call the "Korean ethnocentrism reality distortion field," prevents an objective assessment of the basic, necessary assumptions that are required to even start thinking about the promotion of Brand Korea.
This ethnocentric myopia prevents even the most basic question that must be asked in the fields of advertising and marketing from even being asked, which is: What is Korea's unique selling proposition (USP)? This is basic freshman Marketing 101, but Koreans are remarkably bad at thinking about this question objectively, if at all, when planning a promotion or media campaign.
In other words, as a non-Korean sitting on my ass eating Cheetos in Iowa, nursing a cafe latte in NYC, eating muësli in Copenhagen, or fish & chips in London, why on God's green earth should I care a whit about Korea? The corollary question is: Why should I care about China or Japan any less, enough to think about Korea, about which I know next-to-nothing, nor have any reason to find out more? Japan has ninjas and samurai and geisha, as well as Godzilla, naughty schoolgirls, and cool animè. China has the Great Wall, kung fu, and Jackie Chan, not to mention sweet-n-sour chicken, huge buildings, and other things that only 1.4 billion people could both create and enjoy. China's China and Japan's Japan, man. To ape the words of the immortal Mel Brooks: "Branding? We don't need no fucking branding."
I know, I know. Koreans, at this point in the argument, are usually chomping at the bit to point out what they think we should all know about Korea's unique history, aesthetics, and other aspects of the culture. Korea's had a hard time, a difficult history, has generally been screwed over by bigger powers, Japan stole this and that cultural treasure, etc. Or that Korean temples are as defined by the empty space as much as the presence of objects; that Korean companies lead in the semi-conductor industry, Samsung makes superior cellphones, or that Koreans invented the movable-type printing press before Gutenberg.
The point is - no one cares. To a complete outsider, to the fanny pack-sporting tourist, this JUST DOESN'T MATTER. Korea, on a superficial level, is just not as exciting as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, or Tiananmen Square. Hallasan ain't got nothing on Mt. Fuji, and Kyoto makes Kyeongju look like an empty parking lot by comparison. Sorry - it's true.
Back to the USP: Why would Joe Schmoe come to Korea? Not from the point of view of a proud Korean, but from the wallet-view of a breadwinner living in Florida with a hankering to take a trip to Asia WHO HAS NO PARTICULAR REASON TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT KOREA NOR CARE ABOUT ITS HISTORY OR PEOPLE beyond the latest news about North Korea, occasional Korean figure skater, or famous Korean actor who manages to become an overblown extra in a Hollywood movie or the main character in a B-rated genre flick - no one cares about Korea.
In the standard Korean way of presentation of the country's attributes, it's a losing proposition, not a winning, unique one. On the level of objects and monuments, dances and rituals, places to go, things to see, China and Japan have simply got it on lock. You just can't touch them. At all. Fugeddaboutit. Give up.
Proud Korean citizens and nationalists, please calm down and put your guns and knives away. I'm not saying that China and Japan ARE objectively better in any sense, but just that, at least on the level of big monuments and other touristy cultural ephemera, their shit is just bigger, brighter, or more famous. Period. This is an indisputable fact. YOU, as the Korean nationalist direct descendant of King Sejong himself, might think Kyeongbok Palace to be superior in some way to the Forbidden City, but 99.99% of non-Koreans don't. And that's mostly because most foreigners don't even know the Kyeongbok Palace exists.
So, on the level of superficial touristy shit, Korea has no USP over that of it's nearest and more famous neighbors. Similarly, in this situation, if you were a marketer or copywriter tasked with promoting a little-known, niche product that most people have scarcely heard of, against two monster ones that everyone knows and dominates the market, you'd have your work cut for you.
And you surely wouldn't start out by trying to compete in terms of the strengths of your competitors. Why on earth would you do that? Famously, Muhammed Ali wasn't dumb enough to start trading punches with George Foreman; he would have been shattered from the inside-out. So he fought according to his strengths, did the infamous "rope-a-dope" and egged Foreman on until he exhausted himself. Then Ali took his shot, and the much-beloved underdog knocked Foreman the fuck out.
Similarly, although less dramatically, Korea working her opponents on the level of their strengths is pretty silly. Sure, from the Korean point-of-view, Korea's cultural treasures are points of pride and demand proud attention; but on the international level, especially from the point-of-view of the more traveled tourist that would even consider coming to Korea in the first place, Korea just ain't that interesting. There's not even a recognizable cityscape. For interesting buildings, I'll go to Shanghai. Again, sorry.
So, we return to the question: What is Korea's USP?
Korean Tourism Organization (STO), Seoul Tourism Organization (STO), as well as pretty much every PR firm and marketing company contracted to do cultural promotion work to international audiences, I'm giving you the Million Dollar Answer.
Korea's USP is found in EXPERIENCES.
Sounds simple, don't it? I've told this to countless suits working in these orgs, but they don't listen. They don't bother to think about the factors behind the rising numbers of foreigners coming here and even choosing to live here, who then have friends visit them, and of this group, many more people fall in love with Korea. Many people who otherwise had nothing to do with Korea ended up coming on a trip, a stopover, a visit to a friend, a stint in the military, and ended up coming back - to STAY. Of course, the only way to do this is to whore oneself out by teaching English, but hey, it's work. And it's not that bad a life, at least, for a time.
So wait - Korean culture is actually pretty sticky, once you get introduced to it. So, one might assume that if you can communicate what is sticky about it, get the word out there, then more foreigners might be interested in coming to check it out. But this is where the problem begins:
1) Koreans have no idea, because of ethnocentric myopia, what it is about Korea that foreigners tend to like. They're too busy asking us if we know what kimchi is. or worrying about some fantasy of having to present a certain national image of Korea.
2) Koreans also have no idea that they indeed DON'T KNOW that they have no idea why foreigners come here. In other words, they don't even know there's a fundamental problem with this cognitive disconnect. Put yet another way, Koreans in these fields don't even know how unable to see the big picture they really are.
3) Koreans are, by extension of the same problem created by the "ethnocentric myopia reality distortion field" that surrounds everything related to the catchphrase "culture," that they spend all their energy promoting things that THEY THINK NON-KOREANS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT without thinking about WHAT NON-KOREANS MIGHT ACTUALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT.
4) And even with what Koreans think they do know about foreigners, it is usually based on flawed, untrue assumptions. That's why Koreans always ask if we know what kimchi is (it's like common knowledge, yo), or that Americans don't eat fish (we have coastlines and fishermen, too, and seafood restaurants, duh), or that we don't eat spicy foods (salsa sells more than ketchup in the US and all peppers come from the Americas, what up?).
Back to the $1,000,000 answer, seen through these 4 major problems: Koreans are too busy underestimating what foreigners DO KNOW and CAN KNOW about Korea, even as there is a knee-jerk response to engage in the simplest possible conversation about "culture," as defined in palaces, temples, foods, and dances. And Koreans continue to draw a line not-to-be-crossed around the culture, because Koreans are generally still uncomfortable about thinking of non-Koreans as insiders. The idea of the foreigner centers around the idea of them as "perpetual guests" and not 2% of the population. Or even as tourists, they cannot really know anything about Korea, so just show them some palaces, walk them around a museum, and take their money.
But Korea's strength is in EXPERIENCES. Even the Korean food that has become popular overseas, from kimchi to kalbi, Korean chicken-n-beer houses, taekwondo, tv dramas, and on and on - these are EXPERIENCES.
When foreigners come to Korea accidentally, but then end up falling in love with the culture, it's about EXPERIENCES. Drinking soju while roasting meat in a back-alley meat joint, staying out all night in the clubs of Hongdae that never close, going to bars where there's no "last call," sitting outside a convenience store, eating dried squid and sipping a beer - these and a million other aspects of "life in the big city," which is hip and fun, but much cheaper than Tokyo, while being much more cosmopolitan and compelling than Beijing - define Korea's USP.
Back in the day, Seoul was not a place to live for foreigners, even 20 years ago. Koreans had never heard of nachos or email, wine tasted like cough syrup, internationally famous DJ's didn't include Seoul on their tours, and things were general rustic and rough around the edges. Tokyo was a beacon of light by comparison, and China was still China, however you cut it, even back then.
But Korea's got something now, with a mix of the rough and rustic, but elements of a culture flyng headlong into the far-flung future. And as many aspects of that mix, remix, and otherwise come together, many, many points in the culture just become COOL.
And that's part of the problem.
the abstract coolness of Korean culture is a tough thing for cultural nationalist-style Koreans to wrap their minds around, as they fumble about bragging about monuments, sites, and such, thinking only in terms of superlatives and flattering statistics. This, even as Koreans generally only think about Korea AS KOREANS, without even bothering to consult foreigners about it, or even try to think in terms of their possible point-of-view. A telling point: no foreigners sit in positions of editorial or budgetary power in these organizations, if there are any foreigners involved AT ALL. Often, promotions aimed at the international audience aren't even proofread by a native speaker of English, let alone have anyone international involved in the actual planning or content.
And this practice really drives the nails into the coffin of Korean promotional planning. If you were an ad agency tasked with selling a new form of brassiere to women, would you proceed without any women in creative? If you were marketing a product to African-Americans, would you not try to have African-Americans involved in the process? Or me, as an owner or a PR agency in say, New York City, wouldn't I be insane to take a huge account (and money) to reach the Korean community WITH NO KOREANS INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT AT ALL, EVEN AS PROOFREADERS?
Of course that would be crazy. But this is exactly what happens every single day in Korean creative agencies, involving millions of dollars in operating budgets, all over Korea, ALL THE TIME. And the government wonders why still, more tourists go visit Vietnam each year than come to Seoul. And the numbers don't improve, even as the government dumps more money into the process.
Yeeeeah. Umm, DUH.
The old story of the frog in the well applies here, on so many levels. Or, to use another metaphor, it's an actual case of the blind leading the blind. And this is just the beginning of the problem...
Why, this is just perfect!
You get a cheap brown worker whom you don't want here physically to provide the labor, you literally put a harmless white face on it, and instead of teaching kids to be more open about using a foreign language with a foreign PERSON, you simply let them play with a robot. Because of course, that's the best way to solve the problem, since foreigners are so SCARY, have HIV, molest children, destroy the honor of hapless Korean women in their free time, etc.
And the only reason foreigners break their contract (there's actually only a midnight run rate of 3%, despite the stereotype) or have friction in the workplace is because of us, not the hagwon owners who lie about working conditions, create a completely unprofessional workplace environment, and who exist in a system that completely rewards them for exploitative practices, but provides many foreigners with little real recourse other than to simply leave. Instead of fixing that, we got robots!
Less brown people behind a fake white face, learning foreign languages without the annoying associated crap of having to learn foreign ways of thinking or interacting with foreign people?
Like Korea's love of b-boy culture, rap, and other kinds of black culture -- black culture without black people!
Now, the pattern's expanded -- learning English without having to deal with dirty barbarians!
It's Korea's dream come true!
(HT to Alia)
As some of you may already know, I own an iPhone, and iPad, and a Samsung galaxy tab. Upon hearing this, one might think that this is an utterly ridiculous situation to let oneself get into. But as you also might know by now, seeing an iPad and then seeing what it can do it in person are two totally different things. Likewise, seeing the galaxy time and touching one bar also two totally separate things. As many of you who follow me on Twitter or read this blog also know, I have been very down on the galaxy tab. But for some reason, when I had a chance to handle it and seal is form factor, I was actually quite intrigued. Intrigued enough, in fact to sign the contract for one. I won't go into the details or the rationale of that decision, other than to say that I have been supporting an extra phone number ever since switching over to the iPhone last year, and that it ends up only been a couple more green bills a month for me to actually switch that number over to the tab. But I am not intending this post to be the definitive review of these two devices. I won't even offer some quick tips and recommendations, as well as what I figured out these devices are good for, from direct experience.
First of all, the iPhone is one of the most amazing devices ever made. This thing gives you the most bang for buck: it is a device that started the true smartphone business, can run all those cool apps that you heard about and just about anything you can think of, and puts all media and communications literally into the palm of your hand. And that's where it's strength lies: all that power in the palm of your hand. You can send e-mail, quickly browse the web, and do just about anything you can do with your computer. Except for one thing, which is reading. It's been so small, it's just isn't something that you want to read on. Sure, checking things and sending quick messages, but it's not even the size of a paperback book. It's an all-in-one device designed for ultimate convenience.
What's the iPad for? Well, that's the question a lot of naysayers seem to ask when it first debuted. And then, a lot of people got their hands on one and actually then some people got to live with one. Many people who have not used in the iPad just think of it slightly as an overgrown iPhone. But that is exactly what it is not. From actually having used one, without getting into the minutia of small functions and complaints like front facing cameras or flash support, the iPad is a replacement for the netbook. More than that, it's a machine that turns the Internet into a portable document. What I mean by that is that the Internet has become an interval part of our lives. As have many other kinds of media, for pictures to movies to blogs to just about everything that contains information to be consumed. And now, all these things, from songs to movies to television shows to everything is in digital form. Have these things are exactly what Apple has been able to integrate into one device for easy consumption and portability. The Walkman is the iPad's most logical ancestor. Sure, the Walkman just put music or a big cassette player on your hip. Big deal, right? Absolutely right. So, in my own lifestyle after buying the iPad, it has suddenly become so much easier to present ideas, show someone a picture, carry around my portfolio, play some on the song, and do all kinds of things that were suddenly possible with the extreme portability and form factor of this device. Nowadays, rather than having to take a meeting to a computer, I take the computer or the Internet or whatever media I want to the meeting. And then there's the flip side of the form factor. I can download books and all sorts of other media for easy and convenient and non-eye-straining consumption anywhere I want to go. In this sense, so iPad is far more important than the walk, at least to the extent it alters one's life. If you just consider it a much lighter and more convenient alternative to a netbook, fine. If you consider it a great movie watching device, it is. It's also a great device to record with, take notes on, based presentations off of, and really alters your life and workflow in so many small ways, half of which I never thought about before getting the iPad, that it really is almost unnecessary device. Apple just happen to make it first, but the idea of the tablet, just like the Walkman and the many many companies who produced similar devices, is here to stay and is totally revolutionary. In short, it's that document sized viewer and presenter. And the key to that is reading, writing, and seeing at a normal size. That's the key to understanding the iPad.
Now, what about this galaxy tab? Well, my whole criticism of the form factor as summarized in the question, "what do you do with a 3-inch penis?" Was a bit premature and overly snide. When I held one in my hand for the first time I thought differently. And that's important to mention: when I felt one in my hand, singular. It's a device just like the one that Mr. Spock or Dr. McCoy used in Star Trek when they went down to alien planets. It's just the size and form factor of a tri-corder. It's the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, which was a book/device that fits into your pocket, but was noticeably larger than something like an iPhone. It just feels good to have this device snugly in one hand, and your other hand free to. It's also nice because it does fit into a man's best pocket, or large winter coat pocket, and can be easily pulled out to navigate the city, look up something on a map app, bring up a note, make a quick appointment with, and lots of things that are easier to do on a larger screen. Basically, these are some things that you might not want to thumb-type. For example, I use the device to Twitter with, to bring up Google or Daum maps on, as almost the perfect reference tool.
The difference between that and the iPad, which is the real obvious question here, is that with the iPad, I feel like I'm making a big investment in motion and in the flow of my life. I feel like the iPad is just too big and too serious a thing to whip out in the grocery store, or while walking on the street, and it's just too conspicuous to casually use. Just imagine that you're walking around the streets with a huge dictionary as your daily planner. It's almost like some of those Franklin calendars that frankly got way too big for their own good. You're basically just bringing along a planning notebook, not trying to strategize and charge the movements of an entire marketing team or large organization. That thing just got too damn big. And the iPad kind of feels like that when doing lots of small things.
Now, this is not to beat up on the iPad itself, because it is very good for many of the things I mentioned above. If you go to a meeting, you want to bring the big presentation book, or have your schedule planner fully laid out, or a larger presentation boards to show charts and pictures, and so forth. If you're going to spend 12 hours on the plane, the iPad is the best companion in the world. There's a program that exists to use the iPad as a virtual whiteboard or display card, so you can write someone's name large and hold it up at the airport baggage exit door to greet a customer or client. I even used it to flag down taxis, by typing my destination in Korean and simply holding the iPad up. It's great for a foreigner in Seoul, because many taxi drivers assume you don't speak Korean and don't understand the multiple passenger system when it's raining. In other words, the iPad has many useful functions that are good for it because it's a big gun. It's larger form factor makes it very useful in those ways.
Right now, I use the tab much more often when walking around. I use it to do all those little things that it would just be too inconvenient to pull out the iPad for. It's really useful device, and it's my hitchhikers guide to the galaxy of Seoul. It's my tri-corder for use in navigating the bustling and busy, alien landscapes of the city. It's cool, convenient, and reassuring to have in your pocket all the time. However, the user experience and overall functionality of the android operating system has a tab leaves much to be desired. I figured that out from the first moment I played with it. It's not as sexy, nor cool, no more smoothly and well planned as the iPad. I don't think anyone can debate that, who has touched both devices. It's also a bit buggy and freaks out on you sometimes. But that aside, the form factor and its resultant functionality made it worth my while, and I still like it quite a bit. Despite being a prematurely pooped-out piece of crap. It's still that likable. The only thing that's a real drag to its functionality is the pretty lame battery life. I still feel like I have to be careful with usage, lest I end up with a brick in my pocket for the rest of the day. With either the iPhone or the iPad, I feel like I can freely use it throughout the day with a full charge.
All this being said, what should you do? Well, here are some tips and recommendations from me, based on my own experiences. I'll add one last note, which is that I have a Wi-Fi only iPad, while my galaxy tab makes more sense for me because it is 3G enabled. Just wanted to give a full background on that, which somewhat affects my rationale for the tab being my truly mobile, flip it out anywhere, super device. But also note that the galaxy tab has a phone number and phone service connected, whereas the iPad does not. For some people, the logic of replacing one's phone number and smaller phone with the galaxy tab maybe a no-brainer, depending on where you're starting from. So let me give you those tips and recommendations from that point of view:
-- If you don't have any kind of smart device, and just a normal career cell phone, I would say is the best bang for your buck would be to buy an iPhone. For those of you on a smaller budget like me, I would buy a used iPhone 3G, because so many careers have upgraded to be 4G iPhone, even when there are 3GS were working just fine. And the difference between the two phones is minimal: there's only the front facing camera and slightly higher resolution that really differentiate the two. Otherwise the software is exactly the same. So, starting from scratch, get the iPhone. I won't even go into debates about the galaxy smart phone. You iPhone just has more applications, a longer history and had start, and the operating system is just much much better, from my experience with the galaxy tab.
-- For those of you who already have a galaxy smart phone, you need to get an iPad. It just does not make any sense for you to get a cab that is only twice the size of your existing phone, and which has the exact same operating system. You already have the one handed portability of the smart phone, and many of the galaxies have larger screens than the iPhone, anyway. If you want a tablet computer, then go for the one that will maximize your set of functionality. And that's the Apple iPad. Don't worry about them coming from different companies, because they are their own self-contained devices, anyway. And unlike my other Apple equipment, the iPad is kind of a bitch to synchronize. I myself have only done it three times. But then again I feel very little need to, and have been doing okay so far. Most of the contents are produced on the iPad I e-mail to myself or otherwise sent out from the pad, anyway. Or I'm synchronized with Google's mail, calendar, and other programs, including notes. So I can lose or break my iPad tomorrow, and I really wouldn't lose any valuable information. So, galaxy at school nurse? IPad. And also, you get the best of both worlds: android and the IOS. I think that's a sweet combination.
-- IPhone owners? Now this is a little bit tougher. For the same reason that I recommend other smartphone owners to get the iPad, I also recommended for iPhone users. It's just a question of maximizing sets of functionality so they overlap the least and complement each other the most. However, if you want to taste the android, the tab is probably your best bet, but don't think it will be nearly as satisfying a user experience as the iPad, and there's no way you going to replace your iPhone with the galaxy tab.
For those of you in other situations, such as only owning and iPad, or having some strange combinations of phone service versus Wi-Fi only, I think you can extrapolate from the logic and recommendations mentioned here.
And finally, if you're going to go crazy like me, I would say have been an iPhone plus a Wi-Fi only iPad is a great combination that is supplemented by the Samsung tab. That way, you're not essentially pain for three phone services technically, although there are plans in Korea to share data on one plan, so the iPhone and 3G enabled iPad maybe economically feasible. In the end, however having all three with 3G access will probably still cost you per month less than happy and maybe one or two of them in the states. And that's the beauty of doing this in Korea on their cheap data plans and contract rates.
I hope you got a better sense of what these devices can do, especially in relation to each other. I know it's crazy to have all three, but it makes a certain kind of sense, especially since I will have to know the android market anyway, since I plan to be involved in the development of apps for both markets. And I certainly don't want want a galaxy phone, so…...
-- Dictated from my iPad on Dragon Dictation™
Before you say this site is "anti-Korean" or bashing Korea – read this: "Why Be Critical?" Chances are, if you're simply angry because I am a social critic in Korea but not actually Korean, see if your argument isn't just a kneejerk response that follows these patterns.
Session 1: Just the Basics Dealing with the basic operations and functions of your DSLR, explaining each function, button, and doo-hickey. The bulk of the session is likely going to stick around the relationship between aperture and shutter, as well as depth-of-field. Basically everything on your camera has something to do with this relationship.
Session 2: Composition and Shooting (Shooting Session 1) We'll take those examples and look at them on the big screen, while also answering the concrete questions that will pop up about the stuff we learned before. Then we'll talk about composition and other framing issues, including lens lengths and why some lenses are worth $100 bucks and some are worth $10,000.
Session 3: Flashes and Advanced Exposure (Shooting Session 2) Dealing with flash, in terms of compensating above and below exposure levels (bracketing), as well as other bracketing techniques in general.
Session 4: Final Session/Critiques Keeping it open, determined by the class.
Four 3-hour sessions, as well as shooting sessions, photo discussions, and critiques. An individual photo essay will also be done as part of the ongoing class assignments. Inquire at the email address at the top right of this page.
Here are some key posts, for those of you new to the blog, which are a sampling of some of my thoughts about race and ideology in Korea and in general, my view of what it means to be a true American, my answer to the question of "Why don't you talk about more positive things?", my thoughts on why the Korean media is so unprofessional, thoughts on the Korean education system (here and here), my post about and examples of racism in three countries' media and the difference in the way they're handled, my posts (here and here) channeling my anger about Katrina, my post about being black in Korea and the whole Hines Ward thing (here and here and here), a post directed against the fashionable racism of even so-called "progressive" Asian Americans, my first attempt at online activism – a petition against KBS, and even random posts such as why I love Apple and have used an Apple computer, why I think Korea doesn't like Star Trek but should really love Battlestar Galactica, and I am ashamed to say that I have even blogged about my cats (here and here).
As for my photo book (now in limbo due to editorial differences with the publisher), you can see the representative chapters from the "Seoul Essays" posts below. Note that Chapter 3 remains undone and in limbo on my computer:
Chapter I: On the Surface
Chapter II: Pleasures of the Everyday
Chapter IV: To Hell and Back
I have much, much more, but this is a random yet representative sampling of my work to start with.