Caveat: A Paleolithic City State with an Internet Connection

Sometimes I stumble on a pithy little phrase that I feel encapsulates some aspect of what life in Korea is like. 

Korea, as a country and culture, is a bunch of layers.  At the core, there is a group of mountain-dwelling hunter-gatherers, in a rugged, difficult climate.  That was thousands of years ago.  Add a layer of Confucian Chinese paternalism.  Add a layer of Buddhist soul-saving.  Add another layer of reactionary confucianism.  Add a layer of Japanese fascism.  And finally, a veneer of western modernity.  But all the layers are from the "outside" – the core is still this rather disparate, hardscabble tribe of hunter-gatherers.  This is evident any time you sit down to a Korean meal – everything and anything is edible, and, with some soy sauce and red pepper flakes, delicious. 

So some time back, I had coined a phrase to describe Korea:  "A medieval city state with an internet connection."  But my current revision of this idea is to take it farther back – to the paleolithic.  That's what I put in the title, above.  I really feel this, at times.  Korea is deeply primitive, yet in a weirdly post-modern way.  I like that, about this country.

One comment

  1. v

    hi, was searching for inspiration for my new roll blinds and found the picture which led me to your blog. I can’t find the picture now but realised there is quite interesting choice of quotes you’ve got.
    Thanks for sharing,

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