Can Korean, or any other Culture Avoid Being Homogenized via Globalization?

Saving Korean culture is going to be left in the hands of generations who spend an entire lunch on their smart phones. A lunch, mind you, at which three old friends have re-united after a long semester in universities spread all over the country.

If the attention spectrum of our youth is so fractured, and less and less sign up for drum troops, play traditional instruments, sing Pansori or Throt, or, importantly, paint, write or dance in the old ways, the old ways will disappear.

Korea has long been occupied: by China, Mongolia, China, Japan and now the USA. Even though many households, especially in Joellanamdo still stick to Confucian rules, the attraction of the occupiers cannot be denied. We still name our children using Chinese characters, wear Hanboks at weddings, eat rice cake cookies and Kimchi; but the current overthrow of Korean culture may be complete.

Here’s why: other than initial wars, one culture can be overthrown via language, religions and, alarmingly, popular culture.

Remember the brave folk singers who helped topple dictators here? The same type minstrels also helped end the Vietnam War in the USA. Where are they now? They’ve been shut out of contracts and replaced by KPOP, and overtly sexual form of song and dance that repeats both disco (USA 1970s) and the boy bands of the 80s and 90s, like New Kids on the Block and ‘N’ Synch. Lyrics such as “Baby One More Time,” or “Mister Mister” are not giving Korea a wholesome reputation around the world. Even Gangnam Style was full of meanings formerly considered vulgar in Korea.

This is not a matter of old fashion or conservative values, but a plea for people to think about how many other cultures have been lost via globalization, genocide, slavery, greed. Of all the cultures to copy, the USA does not come to mind as a particularly wise choice. The country has invaded other countries 90 times since World War II. Its education and health care systems are, except at universities, abominable, or they cost more than most can afford. Private hospitals have already crept into the Korean system.

There are many examples of creative and performing artists keeping traditional Korean ways alive, but the youth of Korea is headed in another direction. As sure as the Ajummas one day will stop showing up on streets or in traditional markets, taking on American ideals will lead to higher crime rates, a wider gap between rich and poor, and a greater dependency on globalized trade, rather than being self sufficient. Such dependencies assure the further erosion of Korean culture in favor of “world culture” meaning US values.

Music and movies, along with TV occupy the brain cells with “entertainment” that makes people numb with vapid content. Add to this Text Messaging and PC Games, and Korea’s lost generation is already 40 years old!

English, for the broad majority of workers, is not necessary. President Park Gun Hye took it off the KSAT university exam. It’s a start, but maybe too little, too late. I believe foreign language education is vital for brain development, as is music. But, by adopting the USA’s language, culture (note Kim Ki Duk’ movies) and horrifying religions, Korea’s past and future contributions to world culture are and will be collaborations, at best.

Catholic missionaries and others have been in Korea since long before the War of North and South. They have, along with capitalism, changed Korea from a culture in which everyone shared and knew each other, into a “my dogma is better than your dogma” religious Olympics. This, above all, threatens Buddhism. Koreans may be skeptical of Buddhism, but its core values are more peace loving and aware of the environment than Christians have ever been (Quakers excepted).

Here, only the most conservative flocks such as Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Jehova’s Witness, and right-winged Presbyterians (huh?) and others represent a real threat. The SDA offers people jobs in the food industry in trade for piety. Do we need such a radical church controlling our food supply or educating our children? This portends a robot culture akin to Pyeung Yang’s.

Almost every war since 800AD has been started by Christians, including the 3000 cultures wiped out via genocide in South and North America. Note “12 Years a Slave,” the 2014 Oscar winner for best movie, in which Christian teachings are preached to slaves that are kept in line with bullwhips and hangings.

No other religion inspires hypocrisy so completely. President Bush had to switch from Methodist to Baptist in order to keep his head up in Church, when the Methodists condemned his wars. He was the first sitting President to switch religions in US history. He kept going while his policies including killing innocent civilians and torture. President Lee Myung Bak kept going to Presbyterian church though eight protesters died at the wrong end of his water cannons, trying to keep very old us Beef out of Korea.

Good luck Korea, invaded in so many ways. Sharing and loving have been traded for big money and plastic surgery. Korean women no longer will marry a farmer or fisherman or wonderful man, unless they have money. This is dreadful.

What if Simon Cowel Beats Lou Reed from now on? + Fukushima = Hell?

This is the first BLog I’ve typed straight into the net without forethought or editing after the initial rant. What if the death of Lou Reed is not a symbol, not some figurative “death of Rock and Roll,” but the REAL death of Rock and roll?

It would be simple to say that video killed the radio star. But rock and roll, as Dylan once said, is about “Sex and Drugs, Folk is about God,” and some rock bands existed on MTV for a while, at least while they were still playing music. Even Folk Music has been swamped under.

Since the 50s every generation has come up with music that pissed their parents off, but sitting here in Korea it’s come with a new twist that is as wretched as it is mundane. KPOP, now self devouring, meaning I sure hope it’s ending, is the ultimate post-disco assault on any type of music that once attempted to explain what is really going on. So here we have the LACK of radical thought being the music that is pissing the parents off. But not making them mad enough.

Apologies to Billy Bragg and the thousands of Punk, Ska and independent bands eking out a living in bars across the globe, but NOBODY NEW is singing ANYTHING that aims to expose the evils in society, the fascist pigs at the top, the corrupt churches, and also getting signed to a major label anymore.

I’d rather see the Dead Kennedys’ worst show than suffer through one more dance routine with lip synched music piped in, or a Simon Cowel/superstar-K/prepackaged singer croon on about things that just don’t matter.

Does the world have ANY TIME AT ALL left for things that just don’t matter!?

Except for the remaining living bands from an era when fans slept out four days to get tickets rather than out-gunned each other with computer aided ticket buying programs, there are precious few “name acts” signed to main stream labels who utter a single word of defiance about ANYTHING. So we hunt the Indy labels and Yep-rock type distributors, worship Ray Pollard and his type, sneak around to clubs until something hits us as genuine…and then return to our earphones, and to music that once made a complete societal difference, not just a scene at scattered clubs.

Lou Died, I Cried.

So what? Few who are young enough to NOW make a difference will stop long enough to realize they’ve been hoodwinked. At least one entire generation has been lulled to sleep, to PC Games, to never hitting the streets in anger. Occupy is dying off, and sadly never accomplished much except locally.

That’s it then aging radicals. Solve the problems locally. Support local angst bands, make your own farms, pray you live far away from pollution…pray that Fukushima holds up long enough to move the fuel rods…make love on a regular basis, because even rock is so dead it can’t muster FUKU-Aid though jazz did:

and one man made a plea:
And others, at an outdoor concert of the idol “band” NEWS, had health problems, really bad health problems at an outdoor show in Tokyo:

But where is the usual line-up of Sting, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel and Billy Bragg? Where’s the big “Rod-Aid” to help people figure out how to move the 1300+ spent Fuel Rods without causing a major chain reaction?

If the last of the rockers can’t come together for THIS, then we sure can’t expect anyone to take seriously the “Pop stars” if they put together a show…even if they come out and sing anti-Nuke Songs. Anyone remember James Taylor, Gil Scott Heron, Crosby Stills and Nash, etc. who put on No Nukes in 1979?

Most of those folks are still alive, and, uh WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY NOW, playing with their grandchildren?

For the Love of the CHANCE that MUSIC matters in the REAL world at ALL anymore, let’s get it in gear ladies and Gentleman.

The Importance of Creativity

Open Secrets, Top Secrets...poemsbelow

Open Secrets, Top Secrets

The Importance of Creativity

By Doug Stuber, Visiting Assistant Professor, English Language and Literature

There is a great book by Rollo May called “The Courage To Create.” Its preface says, in part:

“How did Homer, confronting something as gross as the Trojan War, fashion it into poetry which became a guide for the ethics of the whole Greek civilization?”

Creativity has been a sub-theme of certain conversation classes because it takes real bravery to have a creative life in Korea, yet many still do. To be creative is to risk that no one will like your work, that the official critics will gather and put your work down, that you will be poor, that friends and family alike will not understand your decision to forgo the mainstream lifestyle of earning regular money from an employer which remains the same for life, or for as long as you can stand the job, whether it is creative or not.

Many high-salary jobs, of course, are creative, whether designing new PC Games, making movies, designing clothing or being the curator of an art museum. But something unusual is happening in Korea these days that would make pursuing one of these unlikely careers more likely: 27% of the recently hired university graduates in South Korea are quitting their jobs in less than a year. It’s amazing, considering how hard it is to get a job now.

Being creative has always been likened to being a monk in Asia. You have to be disciplined…in yesteryear that meant mastering calligraphy, poetry and painting. It meant having a life completely immersed in creativity, your soul connected to nature, and perhaps a regular tea, sometimes with friends, and a small garden, or large garden.

These days creativity need not be so reclusive, but the best creative types do spend an awful lot of time alone honing their craft(s). Creative people often lead meager lives…the old rumor is that the first painter do die rich was Picasso. Most of the famous classical music composers were also poor at the bank while providing humanity with a very rich legacy.

KPOP music has given many people an outlet to earn money performing. Their level of creativity will be measured by how long the niche continues, but there are signs it is devouring itself, as one band repeats another band’s melody or motif. The creativity part of music is the songwriter, and too many times the songwriters (especially lyricists) have nothing important to say anymore. These creators are constricted by the norms of “popular,” and thus an entire generation has been robbed of protest music, and outlets for driving social change via creativity.

In the 1950s even the poets (USA) held big sway in the culture, in the 60s through the 90s the poets who could transform their words into music managed to gather multitudes and change society. Which creators will be the ones to point out the wrongs of government and the injustice of capitalism now? How much longer must wage-slavery dominate the earth before the creative types scream out against it?