Category Archives for: South Korea

Capitalistic Behavior

19 April 2016

[todo: this might become my largest post, which may involve my experience in each society (from childhood to now), my desire to reverse it, and perhaps use Marx’s Capital to continue thinking about it.]

“What is the point of mentioning the word profit1?”
Mencius, Mencius, first sentence

When one physically sees the masses that move across streets in large cities — New York, Seoul, Taipei, and especially Tokyo — one wonders, why are they walking to their destination? Are they thinking? Are they human, or zombies? Is their mind separated from their body? Must one use music to stop thinking in order to move the body?

“Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I’m late, gotta big date, gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can’t stay, I gotta run, run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone, I gotta let the people know I’m gonna be late”
Harry Nilsson, “Gotta Get Up”

The body needs to be somewhere at a certain time. But with current technology, is it necessary for many jobs? Why not simply communicate through digital means?

[Singapore and Hong Kong: Asia’s businesses cities. Let’s not talk about them please. I could only stand half a day in Singapore, and I was happy to purchase a flight out of Hong Kong as soon as possible.]

In Seoul, one really gets a strong sense of capitalistic behavior. That, the economic system is almost in entire control of the society. That nobody is thinking about their actions. The entire society blindly follows what capital wants. If capital wants technology, that is what they will give it (hence the economic boom). Capitalism determines the actions of all its citizens from professional business to art to everyday life. The way shopping malls (thinking of Rick Roderick’s Philosophy and Human Values) determine where people go and what they buy, the entire city is planned to control Seoulites position and advertise their feeble minds to purchase commodities. A good dungeon master or game developer could easily create the material structure and rules for them to follow. (Unfortunately, the masters are boring, rich capitalists.) Capitalism determines their place in society. If capital values exchange-value, that is what society values. A higher salary actually is valued in this society. Go figure.

In Tokyo, the capitalistic behavior pervades, but perhaps is weaker in some parts. Of work, it is the same as Seoul: the old bergousie wealth culture, mannerism still exist. But it doesn’t extend to entertainment, or their everyday life after work. They have unique arts, though, itself extremely insular. When they have free time, they don’t go to malls (well, many do), but they might actually go home and play some video games, or actually go to a park.

In Taiwan, the capitalist behavior is the weakest [of East Asia], hence the lack of economic boom. Somewhere in the culture (Confucius?, benevolence is prioritized over ‘profit’?) having an experience (a la Dewey) at a good price is prioritized. Every experience is calculated, from snacks to flights. Thus, perhaps, going to Thailand is better than going to a developed country, because there is more experience in Thailand. Maximizing experience is the categorical imperative. Strive to make every action a social experience. Try anything. Nothing is looked down upon, instead people cheer you on (加油). It doesn’t matter what the direction is, therefore, capital does not affect their actions; It doesn’t matter if an action generates capital or not; Just do it for the experience. Go on, try (试试看) riding a skateboard, or hunting wild boars with aboriginals. Who cares. If one fails (which is pathetically often the case), oh well. It was worth trying; It was worth the experience of trying. If one runs out of capital, well, one must work (工作) for it, it’s one’s duty (负责). Playtime (玩) is over. But surely after work, maybe even during work, and after saving a little, one can play again. Thus, capital here is merely something needed in order to try things, to take actions in desired, natural directions. Those directions could be to have an experience (try something new: food, travel, art), urbanize a comfortable place, or volunteer to try to do good (热情) for one’s society. Capitalism limits behavior, but only for the time necessary to earn capital.

[todo: America.

three parts? VA, SF, and NY?

[applies to all] Work and play. Work hard, play hard. Life is separated from work. Work is completely alienated. One goes into some work zone, physical and mental, then comes out 8 hours later, then proceeds to a social space, a bar, a cafe, an event, home, etc, to not think about work again. Because the wages are so high, benevolent thoughts, politics, society, are not thought of. One doesn’t need to think about how to create a better society, because one is already surviving quite well off.

In Virginia, the suburbs of which I’ve come from, corporations have nearly defeated all small businesses and replaced them with superstores which contain a million commodities, which makes it impossible to imagine the labor that went behind it all. Industrialization is in full force in the suburbs. Cashiers are automated now. So is security. Go on, get your manufactured milk and cereal and check ’em out yourself!

The work in Virginia is either corporate or government, the latter, having a large military presence. Do the engineering for some part of some battleship or spacecraft or secret intelligence program. They’re huge enterprises, and the work is a tiny cog (todo: link to Helplessness Blues). My school spit out cogs for SPAWAR, NAVSEA, NASA, and DARPA. But somehow, no student saw the simple ends: war, wasting capital toward positive science, and building an Orwellian society. That’s the American education. Hurray science! Use a STEM-pack. Ah yeah, that’s the stuff!

SF, see Silicon Valley and Capitalism.


[todo: every other society I’ve experienced]

[very much related to my posts on criticism of capitalism.]

1. profit – the Confucius definition seems to be to gain, but usually in the context of gaining as an end, which goes against the categorical imperative of benevolence

possible things to read:

Leave a comment | Categories: Determinism and Free Will, Ethics, Experience, Humanities, Japan, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Philosophy, South Korea, Taiwan, Travel

Korea and The Apex of SPD

15 November 2014

the height of travel
– an abstract world
– life made no sense
– why speak a certain language?
– why do certain work?

When I flew from India to Hong Kong, I felt that I was on top of the world.

I saw through Hong Kong. I explored it within a week. I found the most valuable artists there. I had little to no interest to it’s culture. I was done with it.

When I arrived in my high class hostel in Seoul, I felt the apex of Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD).

I could barely go to the bathroom without thinking about how much money was being wasted at the hostel. After being in India and Nepal for 3 months, then going to Hong Kong for a week, the amount of goods in Seoul felt ridiculous: spacious rooms, clean, free water, six lane roads, cars, tons of space, cafes, endless comfort.

It was probably the deepest feeling I had during all of my travels. I would be talking to myself at really high speeds. Questioning everything, material and human. It was as if I was re-constructing what society is in my head.

I questioned why anyone could create anything. Life was far beyond a means a living, yet people moved to take action, perhaps toward some work, which I didn’t understand.

I think it’s because Seoul feels like a sprawling suburb, and suburbs are still non-sensical to me. My mind couldn’t figure out why anyone who act in such ways.

[TODO: definitely worth thinking about why it had such a great effect]

I adapt to the hostel in Seoul. I become accustomed to technology and money. I forget about others. I become less creative. I think less. And I hate myself for it all. I don’t ever want to be lazy again.

Adapting to the developed world means becoming an automaton?

Leave a comment | Categories: Mind and Matter, Psychology, Schizoid Personality Disorder, South Korea, Travel


31 July 2013

Seoul is the result of conservative middle and upper class Asians living together, isolated from the rest of the world. I grew up with these people. I despised these people. It was the reason I started writing down my thoughts. It was the reason I left my hometown.

There are no distinct areas. It’s a city-surburb sprawl. Franchises, shopping malls, restaurants, bars, clubs, and more shopping malls are at the center of each city-suburb. Apartment buildings, offices, and even large houses occupy the surrounding area. The city repeats itself. Six lane streets connect them all, filled with luxury cars alongside a great metro system and bus system. Seoul makes the Asian ethnic enclaves in Western cities seem more traditional. At least Hong Kong is efficient. Seoul is just wasteful.

My hostel feels like an and upper class Asian’s house: wooden floors, a random marble staircase, IKEA-like furniture, modern computers, rainfall shower head, air conditioner and lights on all day, a refrigerator full of packaged food and drinks. It’s neat, organized, uncreative, unnecessary.

The city is completely indoors. Subways lead to giant shopping malls. Large open spaces, indoors. There’s more indoor space than parks. Indoor areas have air conditioner, wifi, tea, and water, everything needed for a person to use a computer. People that live in houses traverse the city in luxury cars as if the city were a suburb. Farmer’s markets are indoors. Is this the future?

The influx of recent wealth is immediately apparent. Gungnam Style is real. Everyone has a smartphone, trendy clothes, excess cash for Starbucks coffee, excess time to go drinking and clubbing. They form tight cliques, use technology to communicate with their clique, wear branded clothing to signify status. Conformity is at large.

The city feels like it was built by Disney. People are pampered. Helicopters watch for people swimming at sea. Families and friends travel in large tour-guided groups, afraid of, well, everything. Kids never grow up here. Their parents wouldn’t kick them out of their house after high school, or when they’re thirty. It’s overly comfortable.

Exploration is unwanted. Do artists leave this place?

Consumption is a human need, but the consumption here is heavily affected by media. They love brands. The people here are homebodies, so the power of media is amplified.

Branded companies rule here. Internet companies have wifi spots within retail stores. The metro station card works at retail stores. Companies sponsor popular events. The majority work for companies. Samsung is prevalent. Nearly every electronic appliance, smartphone, and computer in this hostel is made by Samsung.

Many people try to become the people they see in media. They dislike their appearance, wear make-up, high heel shoes, spend more time washing their face, lift weights, possibly use plastic surgery.

I don’t belong here. I don’t want to be here. I got away from these people long ago. Will I be able to enjoy time spent with them again? Will I be able to value my time with them? Well, I hope this is just the ugly side I am seeing. Every race has its cons.

I’ve lost the feeling of being on edge, alert. It’s making me lazy. I perform better when I am struggling, fighting for something.

All I see is waste. Perhaps it’s because I was living in South Asia. I enjoyed the minimalism of living in India and Nepal, spending time and interacting with local people in the same physical location. It’s conducive to creativity. It’s conducive to living a real life.

Korea brings about the lonely side of me. The use of media and computers resurges. I have to use computers to talk to find and talk to certain people. I have to commute through hordes of coffee shops to reach park, library, or friend. I have to use media to remind myself that there is more to the world than this, to surround myself with things I value. I need to create my own space, distancing myself from the people around me.

All is not negative. It’s only my third day. I am living in the party area, so it’s admittedly a bad gauge. I met a great person at a restaurant nearby. She works with her mother. It felt like being in my cousin’s kitchen. The food is one of the most healthiest and tastiest meals I’ve had during my entire trip.

Korean people are actually really nice, just shy and not outgoing. I look forward to meeting more people here. It’s going to require me to be very outgoing, learn some Korean, and possibly hitchhiking. I need to push myself into these people. Break the safety barrier they created around themselves. Somehow become friends with them, without becoming one of them.

Leave a comment | Categories: Personal, South Korea, Travel