Walking around Seoul, I cannot shake off the impression of being in a society that resembles the future far more than anything else in the Old World. Not even the New World tries to be its logical extreme yet. But Seoul does not hinder the future’s becoming. Like its now increasingly Christian population, it wants the New Jerusalem already to descend and take hold of the human flock. It is both millennial and millenarian.

The skyline is impressive, but so is the one in Hong Kong, Taipei, Kaohsiung and many other Asian metropolises. What makes Seoul stand out is that on the ground the future is visibile.
As a friend of mine noticed as well: South Korea is more eager to fully utilize the technology of the day and ubiquitously implement it, while the rest of the world always waits for the profit margins to favor such a move. In a sense, if you want a picture of the future, do not imagine it, but visit South Korea, a country that interestingly and wyrdly enough still has the 20th century stubbornly at its doorstep. It’s as if it tries to undo that past, so close to its capital city, by looking less and less like it, by allowing the strides in any advancement to seep into every pore.
But not only technology. Also socially and culturally it willingly participates in the digital dance that desires to merge with its dance partner, reality, and undo the Platonic dualism of idea and object. The people want to look and be perfect. They do not feel any shame in the pursuit thereof. With the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries in the world, South Korean people aspire, moreso than any other nation in the world, to be that picture in the magazine.
Politically it has taken its place among the “free nations of the world” (and celebrates this fact with the War Memorial commemorating the sacrifices made by the United Nations that came to its aid) but, again, feels no shame in its actual technocratic politics, striving towards the most efficient system, a perfect system.

Perfect. An asymptote Korea seems to get closer to every second.

2 thoughts on “Perfect

  1. Great post! What an interesting perspective on Korean culture. I am preparing to study abroad here in a couple weeks, and have been looking at other blogs in order to get a peak about what to expect. How long will you be in Korea?


  2. Seoul’s perfection comes at a high price. I loved living there, but working inside the society, I was aware of how often the perfect face across the room is crying in the lady’s restroom five minutes later. There is a raw eagerness and I loved meeting people, but the pressure is relentless and its driven by values from the past and the present. You’ve captured the feeling though, so perfectly.


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