Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Waeg is out visiting an old friend.  He used to laugh at them for being too kangaroo, expecting money from their families despite being in their 30s with good education and children.  But the call he received was to be celebratory, as they'd recently received a prize in design, the second one in so many years.  They were moving up.

Waeg!  It is so good to see you!  How are you?  Good?  Good!  I've got to tell you, I should have received first in that contest!  Sure, sure, second is great, and I know I'll get many more contracts now, but I can't help but feel like Kim Yuna!  I should have been first.

Waeg pauses.  In his mind, Kim Yuna gave up the gold.  She could have earned it, but decided it just wasn't worth it.  In Korean society, if you always get gold, there will always be more than a few hundred thousand who will constantly scrutinize everything you do, and expect you to consistently be the best at everything.  As a Korean coworker told him years ago, you don't want to be at the top, since then you will be expected to do so much only to receive so little, with so many eager to see you fall.  Best to choose the middle of the pack.  Best to be mediocre. Best to simply incrementally add to trash and never suggest what should be done to improve.  Also, best of the best is to let yourself be beat by a waeg at a waeg rigged event, as you can coast easy street for years to come in Korea, as you'd been robbed by the awful, awful, waeg world.  Admittedly, Waeg has only extrapolated this last about the coworker based on said coworker's rants about living in the US, which does take into consideration that said coworker is generally considered a complete asshole, who has obviously spent little time thinking about Nietzsche and ressentiment. Waeg doesn't say any of this, he just asks and listens: so what happened? How was it you were robbed?

Oh, they just asked people who couldn't understand what I was doing!  They brought in people who only looked at the impossible promises made by the 'winner'.  When it came to the pure blend of design and environment I proposed, they chose instead the design that cannot even begin to be fulfilled!  Sure, the first place design was more daring, but the fact that it could not be done while mine was far more artistic is the true robbery!  None the matter!  This second mention certainly marks me as established!

Waeg congratulates, as he knows that this is true: his friend has represented. He raises a glass, and drinks.


Banger said...

Just throwing in my couple of pennies worth: Koreans, and Korea, have many things to offer the waeg, as you obviously well know, yerself - and I'm also married to a Korean, so I think I'm qualified to comment!! Albeit, a Korean who has traveled/studied/lived overseas for nearly 20 years, in the past, and aren't they a very different kind of Korean? Well, unless they're freaking Princeton Presbyterian Seminary graduates, that is, but that goes without sayin', I think-; but one ancient truth seems to elude them (in fact, it might be freaking Alpha Centaurean philosophy as far as the average Korean is concerned!!):

A man's conditions reflect the man himself, because a man's life and its conditions correspond to what he is...

I've noticed that Koreans - at least the ones who I know and can shoot the breeze with - get pretty hostile in the face of that kind of statement, or similar~~ For me, that says a lot!! About minds....and about Korean minds~

F5Waeg said...

Ah yes, the old chestnut: are we in control of our destiny, or simply a product of our environment? It is nice to believe we are in full control of our destiny, which is usually the way someone might respond when things are going well for them, or have had the will and opportunity and luck to keep their head above water. . . sadly, there are plenty of stories out there that contradict this: despite strong character, will, and drive, just existing at the wrong place at the wrong time can stop a person from developing fully into what they could have been. I like to think of it more moderate terms, imagining what I could have been if I had been born in a different time and place, would I be the same person I am now, or would my character have developed in the way it has, that being a pretty strong willed guy who can imagine beyond his little sandbox. . . but some people never even get to that point, as they never had the need, or chance, or desire to do so. This is why individualism is good, as it encourages people to develop the perspective that they can affect their destiny, while also being aware that while so many options are available for them to choose from, sometimes shit happens.

Anonymous said...

well said Waeg

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