To Be a Korean
The Koreans have managed something that is badly failing us. Imperceptibly into our lives came the words: Daewoo, Samsung, LG, Hyundai. South Korea lives among us but remains unseen. We know little about its inhabitants, who performed the feat
Korea long remained to me a white spot on the map, invisible next to China and Japan. Quite unfair, considering that with these two it has been for centuries connected: relationship neighbours, not only of the enemy and conquered, but also between teacher and student, countries close cultures, religion, philosophy, literature, good understanding for each other. If morbid interest still pushed to read about North Korea, South, one of the successful “Asian tigers”, such curiosity is not caused, so for this book I was taken, struggling with their own ignorance, but without much joy, and, in General, in vain.
“To be a Korean. “is a collection of essays and articles by the author previously published in “the Seoul Herald” and other journals. On the one hand, it gives a great variation of themes and some chaotic. The other five pages every question is in the focus and therefore remembered. So this book is unexpectedly large! — made me learn what I know had not intended: for example, about the history of the Korean orders and bus the Seoul city walls or coffee machines. Not the most high-profile topics, and yet, I think the bricks for the building image of the country.
In the six years since the release of the book, in dynamic South Korea, surely many things have changed. But most of all I was amazed the simplest information, which is certainly not obsolete: how cool soared this country, where fifty years ago there was not a single high-rise residential buildings, and farmers in the spring often had to eat grass and bark. And what in the Seoul Metropolitan area is home to almost half of all people in the country. Or that, despite the presence of the native alphabet, Koreans are still learning thousands of characters of Chinese origin — in any more or less a scientific text not do without them. Or that every third inhabitant of the Republic of Korea is a Christian, and this is the most common religion in the country. And the unusual story of the centuries-old relationship with the Chinese Empire: acknowledging her supremacy and power, Korea each year sent tribute to the Emperor of China, he, however, answered equal in value to the gifts, and at the same time gave protection and open access to the achievements of Chinese thought, — what an exquisite way to survive next to a large neighbour, to preserve the state and protect the people, and not to lose face! Or, finally, a young Korean nationalism, which, as and, alas, everywhere today, why not just mingled: and the Ghost of Marxism, disturbing students, and talk about the Koreans as the once most powerful nation with five-thousand year history, and the conviction of the younger generation, already did not catch the war across the border in North Korea live “brethren” who will not harm them, and the campaign to rename the sea of Japan in “Vostochnoevropeiskoe”.
In addition, the author speaks of things not quite as awesome, but not least, as she lived Korea the fourteenth century some sort of, how was the Japanese occupation that was made in the sixties for the economic growth of the country. How Koreans relate to family, work, education, religion, what to eat, how to have fun, read the books. In which countries the natives live from Korea and why a lot of them in Russia and CIS countries — a sad story, about which I also knew little.
In General, the book provides clear answers to most questions about the country, except, perhaps, questions of culture and art. Fortunately, find Korean film or music and to learn about what is happening and what worries our contemporary anywhere in Seoul, today is easier than ever.