Ah Korea. Even though the constant parade of Really Weird sh-t™ continues apace, I find that I’m so inured to it that any response rarely reaches the level in my mind of being consciously noticed. My mental DJ, enjoying his perpetual party up there in the locked-off booth at the top of my skull, is usually busy playing a Mojo Nixon song, or some half-remembered one hit wonder from the 80’s, drowning out the hacksaw sniff-backhaul-and-hork
of the Throat Oyster Launchers, like some nauseating avian mating cry call-and-response, that surrounds me as I walk the dirty streets to the University and back.
I really need an mp3 player.
One thing that did stick with me yesterday was a new advertising campaign on the subway. Korea, you see, is owned, lock-stock-and-two-horking-barrels, by the chaebol
s (similar in some ways to the Japanese keiretsu
). Samsung, LG, Daewoo, Hyundai and perhaps a score of others own everything
. I live in an LG apartment building. Our TV is a Samsung. LG makes the blank CD’s on my desk, here, and the soap that my wife is currently using in the shower, as well as the grocery store where we buy our food. Subsidiaries are responsible for the production and distribution of that food. Daewoo made the elevators in my building, and the steel comes from Hyundai steelworks. The huge new apartment beehive going up next door is a Daewoo buidling, and is being built by Daewoo Construction, with Hyundai machinery, mostly. All the cars and buses on the streets are Korean-made, of course, by one of the chaebol
. Electronics are sold in LG shops, or Samsung shops, depending on who made them. Pretty much everything you touch or see during your day was either grown, processed, created, built, shipped, imported, sold or in some other way touched by one or more of the chaebol
. Each chaebol
also has an array of banking interests, and a staggering array of credit cards on offer to the public. When I say that they own this country, I actually mean that literally. It could be forgiven to think that they own the people, as well, but this might be arguable. There are pockets of dissent
So, me, on the subway. A shiny new plastic proto-banner-ad above my head is touting the Samsung Christian Card. Big black letters emblazoned across a golden Visa card, bigger even than the Samsung logo, saying “CHRISTIAN
“. In the soft-focus panorama, the card lies beside a wooden crucifix, atop an open Bible. The tableau is somehow as erotically charged as the close-up food-porn fried chicken ad beside it.
Now, even though I do groove on their funky metaphors of death and rebirth and all that, I’m not especially Xian. Still, that ad struck me as deeply
f–ked up. Like hardcore porn performed by people in full clown make-up, complete with big red noses and fright wigs. Like the voice of Henry Kissinger coming out of my wife’s mouth : “Richart, Richart, you’re drahnk agayn
.” Like a Friday evening without any delicious beverages at all. Just plain wrong.
Somehow brings to mind one of my responses back in University to the ‘Jesus saves!’ grafitti that was everywhere around Vancouver at the time : ‘Buddha spends!’