Arrival in South Korea: television at the center of life?

Last Tuesday (September 25th) I left for South Korea for my first four month stretch working at the YeungNam University. So, first a lot of time spending at airports and in airplanes. Ever wondered why there are so little clocks at airports? Most likely there is some psychology at play here. Without clocks people probably go to the gate sooner than later. When they do know what the time is, they most likely tend to linger at an additional shop to by things, in the process delaying the flight.

From Dusseldorf to Paris to Inchun Airport (Seoul)  and subsequently to Daegu (also spelled as Taegu). In the Korean Airlines plane I had my first taste of Korean food (Bibimbap) and it was good.

At Daegu International Airport I was welcomed by representatives of YeungNam University . A short taxi drive immediately showed a major difference as compared to the Netherlands. Traffic safety is in the Netherlands highly valued. And therefore recently it was proposed to not only forbid talking on the mobile phone while driving a car, but also operating other equipment such as navigation software, radio, or a DVD player. Anyhow, getting into the taxi in South Korea, you guessed right, two TV’s: a smaller on the center console of the driver and a large one attached to the roof for the back seat passengers. From what I understand a soap opera was on. Of course one might argue, so what, you don’t need to watch a soap attentively to follow the story. True and the taxi driver drove fine. Maybe it’s more intended to keep passengers docile. This reminds me of a professor in Nijmegen. He complained that students were loud during classes. So he showed a soap episode in class while teaching the course: students were quit as never before.

Although Amsterdam has a problem with aggressive taxi drivers, I don’t think it’d be a solution to let them have TV in their car. Imagine what would happen if a customer would interrupt them viewing the latest episode of the Bold and the Beautiful…

Later in the week I discovered that not only taxi drivers have TV in their vehicle, but also scooter drivers, some even two: square boxes covering the small TVs to keep the sunlight away. Photographic evidence will hopefully appear soon on this blog.

Insight into the North Korean neighbor up north

While preparing for my journey to South Korea I stumbled upon the documentary Welcome to North Korea directed by Dutch filmmakers Peter Tetteroo and Raymond Feddema and winner of an Emmy Award.

It´s astonishing how the North Korean government succeeded to keep foreign media out of their country, apparently the only way to sustain the power balance as it exists now. Apparently, the first fast food restaurant was opened. At the same time Kim Jong-il’s health seems to be deteriorating. Inthe event of his death, one of his sons is likely to be successor. Lastly, the North Koreans want to restart negatiations on stopping their nuclear program.  Maybe these changes may lead to a relaxation of the tensed relations of North Korea with the rest of the world.

Anyhow, watch the open source documentary hosted by It’s not a Internet bite size length documentary but a lengthy 53 minute one. So sit down and relax.

A peek into our future?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be traveling to South Korea in a few weeks. For a quick impression what the “most wired place in the world” entails watch the following video on the Internet, gaming and addiction.

When you follow this link you’ll also find some links to some general and web statistics. For instance, apparently 43% of all Koreans maintain a weblog. South Korea has about 20,000 PC Bangs, Internet cafés. My infrequent experience with Internet cafes are abroad to check upon email. These PC Bangs however are predominantly used to play games. In the Netherlands there are so-called LAN parties where gamers meet to play. Apparently the popularity seems to decrease as broadband Internet access becomes cheaper.

Furthermore, the Korea Communications Commission is planning to boost wireless Internet up to 10 Mbps and connected Internet services to 1 Gbps. This also provides a better HDTV image. In the Netherlands the fastest regular Internet connection you can subscribe to is 120 Mbps and HDTV is just beginning to get adopted.