scenes from south korea

South Korea is a land of details. From motion sensor escalators that only turn on when someone steps on, to elevator user interface, where pressing the button takes you to the floor, but pressing it again cancels the action (how often have you wished for something like that when obnoxious children mash all the buttons for fun).

There is minimal Engrish, for the most part, signage is well translated. The strange paradox is that for many people — I’m talking about young people — their command of spoken English isn’t that great. This was somewhat surprising to me, considering that to interact with much of the business world today, English is the standard.

Upon a bit of reflection, perhaps I am guilty of misunderestimating the vast, sheer, numbers of people in Asia, a region in ascendancy. It was a bit of a reality check on where the west currently stands in relation to the east in terms of importance. It’s a little early to claim we’re in the death throes of pax Americana but it’s still food for thought.

Another surprising aspect for me was how dirty the air was. Nowhere near as dirty as the air in Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing — visibility in those cities averaged approximately 400m when I was there, whereas you could see several km into the distance in Seoul. Still, the omnipresent haze was jarring to someone who spends a lot of time in the American Rockies, where visibility is essentially limited by geographic features, such as ridgelines or say, the curvature of the earth.

We’re experiencing a gigantic wildfire right now, and people in Fortlandia are rightly complaining about the air quality.

Imagine if you woke up to the above every single day.

Finally, axolotls are some of the best animals on earth. Ever.

I’m since back from my week-long work trip there, stopped in at Summit County to do laundry, and then off again. This blog post comes to you from London.

Some useful links:

  • the rest of my Korean photo album — enjoy
  • Learn to read Korean in 15 minutes — driving along in South Korea is actually a great place to practice this, because the signage is dual posted in both Hangul and English. I impressed my hosts with kindergarten reading proficiency (although of course I was just sounding out the words phonetically with nary a clue of what I was actually saying)