Reflections (in the mirror)

15 09 2010

In my future moments of nostalgic reflection on Korea, one of the first flashes will surely be that of my co-workers’ daily huddle around the desktop computer.  I need not understand Korean to be painfully aware of what their excited chatter is a precursor to: yet another box of stuff is scheduled to arrive within the next 24 hours; I’d almost bet my life on it.  When the knock at the back door the next afternoon proves me correct, they will rush about the office ravaging frantically to locate boxcutters, scissors, keys, anything (!) to surpass this obstacle between them and whatever precious crap lies inside.  I will then watch in quiet amusement as the objects inside endure intense scrutiny from each of the girls before being condemned back into its box with disgust, or receiving the green light to be pulled over her head, tacked into her hair, swung over her shoulder, slipped onto her little feet, or smudged on her face.  “Bling Bling!”

I never did realize Korea was such an image conscious country before arriving here, but it was without a doubt the first thing I noticed when I stepped off the plane; everyone is flawless and dressed to kill no matter the occasion.  I feel at times as if I’ve infiltrated the Asian Stepford Wives’ neighborhood, yet the idea has become so popular that it has developed into an pandemic infecting each and every resident of the country, regardless of social status.  In the west, people love to spend the money they don’t have on nice cars, college degrees, hefty home loans, and interest payments.  Everyone creates their social status one way or another, and it makes sense that Koreans give precedence to personal appearance considering it’s where they get the most bang for the buck.  It isn’t a culture of dinner parties, house parties, and home study groups as is the west; here, socializing is done outside of the home so your proof (or illusion) of wealth should obviously be mobile.

I do like their style on this one… It is quite common to re-gift the crap that makes your blacklist and isn’t worth nickles and dimes to return.  They are definitely onto something..