Monthly Archives: July 2016

I don’t Seoul.U

Bear

One thing that irritates me about Seoul, are people’s desire to make the city a major international tourist attraction without A) examining what makes the city unique and B) examining what foreigners are actually interested in. It seems that decisions on creating tourist attractions and campaigns are based more on a committee which have very little to do with the place and the audience.

The city will be repurposing an old overpass near Seoul Station and turning it into the Seoul Skygarden, an elevated park in the middle of a busy city center. They hired international designers to create the park, thus hoping to add some international design accolades on paper. Great, just great. I work near that area. It has extremely heavy traffic and the station itself is popular among homeless people. An elevated park with cafes and restaurants will not only worsen traffic conditions, it will further displace the homeless population. That or they would just gladly hangout at the internationally, designed structure.

It’s like the designers and city planners just thought about modernity and ignored everything else. It’s already been done with the station itself. Seoul Station used to be this old building built during the Japanese occupation. Ugly history aside, it’s still a beautiful and historic building. But the city decided to build a new Seoul Station right next to it, a modern structure that says absolutely nothing. Passersby wouldn’t even be able to make out the shape of the whole structure amongst the menagerie of glass and neighboring shops.

They do this again and again. City Hall is shaped like a wave that is trying to hide behind other more interesting buildings. Dongdaemun Design Plaza replaced the old stadium which displaced many of the people who used to do business in the old structure. Now it’s a pretentious glob right in the middle of a shopping area. It houses high-end fashion shops, replacing old merchants struggling to make ends meet by hawking their wares. Noryangjin Fish Market is being modernized into a soulless department store-looking bland attraction. Fish mongers who’ve done business there for years are being pressured by the city as well as gangsters to move to the newer, modern-looking area. City planners, instead of seeing what works and embracing it, they try to modernize things into attractions that would ultimately look old and dated given five or ten years. Seoul City Hall is not iconic, neither is Dongdaemun Design Plaza. They look like poor stabs at looking modern.

It’s really is a shame, but Koreans are often misguided when it comes to capitalizing on their environment and cultural appeal outside of K-pop. Even their attempts to coming up slogans for the city and the country have been disastrous. “I.Seoul.U” is a confusing mess that would attract no one. If anything, it reflects on the need to sound modern and hip to the detriment of language and communication. As for “Creative Korea,” ironically, it looks like it was plagiarized from “Creative France.” Appropriately, it speaks to the lack of creativity and poor attempts by the Korean tourism authorities. And in both cases, I believe no English-speaking expats, people who have learned to appreciate the country from an outsider’s point of view, have been consulted for the slogans.

Mind you, other cities are not immune to this. As much as I love Winnipeg, I’ve never liked its much-beloved Canadian Museum for Human Rights. I feel for the sentiment and the purpose of the place, but it looks like structure straight out of Mad Max. Also, who would travel to Winnipeg to see a museum on human rights? At least Edmonton had the wisdom to build the West Edmonton Mall. Americans and Canadians alike would drive for hours to visit Edmonton, a city of less than a million people, just to visit the giant mall. This would never be the case with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. It’s like city planners are actively targeting the mandatory school field trip crowd. And despite being a structure dedicated to human rights, I remember planners were quick to ignore Aboriginal concerns regarding artifacts and Aboriginal graveyards. Just like Seoul, it’s a modern ugly structure that ignores many of the locals’ concerns and would likely not increase local tourism.

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Japan Again

Flowers

Visited Japan again. Japan is a great place to visit. I would live there if the living expense vs. wages is more reasonable. Anywhere but Tokyo though. Tokyo is a nightmare of trains and buses.

One thing I always liked about the country is the general respect towards others and the overwhelming sense of empathy. People are always mindful of how others are… smiling, not getting in each other’s space, not being too loud on their phones, etc. It’s great. Here in Seoul, despite having a history of Confucian, community-centered value system, people tend to be more self-centered. They are not aware of other’s personal space. I got mine; you go get yours, type of attitude. It’s not a big deal, and I’ve gotten used to it. But it’s often the small things that make one appreciate a place more.

Maybe this is just me being Canadian and missing general politeness.

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Horrible Week

Dead_Rabbit

To the two guys who kept arguing with me on my Intro to Criminal Law class before, tell me how racial profiling doesn’t exist now?

The recent events in the US have been the most malignant in terms of race relations recently, a mixture of bad police culture, guns, and a history of racial injustice. I’ve been tweeting about it for a couple of days now, and I’m sure many people have said more thoughtful things about it than me. But what gets to me most about these events is how the movement Black Lives Matter get tarred and feathered. “They’re a terrorist organization financed by George Soros!” “What about the cops?! Blue Lives Matter!” “What about everyone else? All Lives Matter!”

First off, enough with the conspiracy theories. Even if the movement was started by the Illuminati, it is working against a system that is corrupt. A system that is flush with guns, have bad training, and is protected by an abusive union. Even if Black Lives Matter had connections with the Black Panthers, it is a reaction to a system that has continually failed a group of people. Stop being obtuse. People are getting shot and killed, and people are angry. Not everything has to be a convoluted conspiracy of global destabilization. Remember Occam’s razor.

Cops’ lives matter, of course. They all have families and many police officers are minorities. The problem here is the police have a tendency to oppress minorities. They are the ones arresting, oppressing, and shooting black people. To say, blue lives matter, is a false equivalency. No one is systematically oppressing police officers. No one. They are the power. They are the ones with the authority to arrest, detain, and shoot if necessary.

To say “blue lives matter,” is almost the same as complaining about the existence of Black history month, or the BET Awards, or gay pride parades. Minorities have these things because they rarely get a say in things. They have been marginalized and now they are speaking out. Cops have never been marginalized. The song Cop Killer and that video of “pigs in a blanket” did not cause of a long history of suffering for police officers. It didn’t get them arrested. It kept them off schools and jobs. Police officers actually have it good. Many news outlets say that the shooting in Dallas which killed five officers was the deadliest attack on police officers since 9/11. If that’s the case, then being a police officer actually sounds safer than being black, gay, or a toddler in America.

And of course they’re safe. Judging from the protective gear, equipment, and tactics they’ve been using, they’re bound to be safe. The police forces on TV look more prepared for war than the poor soldiers sent to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Police officers are bound to be safe if their first reaction to a black woman crying after her boyfriend got shot is to point guns at her as well. Diamond Reynolds was a woman whose loved one just got murdered while her daughter was in the vehicle. She’s not a Magneto. It reminds me of that Natalie Merchant song Gun Shy. “There is a world outside of this room, and if you meet it promise me, you won’t meet it with your gun.” Unfortunately, I keep seeing examples of the opposite.

And as for “all lives matter.” I agree. All lives matter. It’s just that black people in America want to be part of that “all.” They have a long history of not mattering.

 

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Birthdays

Ricardio

I’m trying to creep out my little nephew.

I celebrated my birthday a week ago. Well, “celebrate” is not the most accurate term. We commemorated it by going to my favorite South African restaurant. I celebrated Canada Day last Friday at a Canadian restaurant and bar last Friday, but despite it having great food and authentic nods to the Prairie provinces, the South African restaurant is still closest to my heart.

We were joined by another couple, friends of my wife. The woman shares my birthday as well.

Now, I try not to dwell too much on birthdays because from my experience, they tend to be the most disappointing of events. There’s so much prior to the day, and at the end of it, you just get older. Of course, people would say that age is just a number. What matters is to be young at heart. Well, it’s getting harder and harder to be young at heart when I’m starting to look (and smell) more and more like my father.

 

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I love you, Canada.

Tim_Hortons

Happy Birthday, Canada! If I could write you a love song, I would.

 

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