Category Archives: Culture

Inverted feudalism

Inverted feudalism

One of the most fascinating phenomena of the current day is the odd structure of government with regards to international relations and national politics, one in which it is local government that is more innovative and more open to concrete international exchange. The waning nation states are suggesting in their action a form of “inverted feudalism.” I formulated this term to describe the current relationship between the central government and local government, drawing on Benjamin Barber’s innovative writings about the new global role of cities and his proposal for a Parliament of Mayors.

In a nutshell, inverted feudalism refers to the tendency of national governments to behave in an increasingly feudalistic manner, inflexible to institutional change and hostile to international exchange except in the extremely limited form of high volume international trade via container ships between multinational corporations. Read more of this post

The new global order: “United States of Frenemies”

 The new global order: “United States of Frenemies” 

I would like to suggest that one of the ultimate results of the internet is a weird interaction between different political ideological groups. One could go as far as to say that this is the “age of playing footsie” in a political sense. Some people would call that conspiracy, but conspiracy is not really the right term for it. And that makes people think that the challenge is ethical, when it is in fact primarily technological: because the technology exists, and no one polices the space and says, “hey, you can’t talk that person!” it is natural that human events will evolve in unexpected ways. It is a new political mandate, a new civil society, that has come out of nowhere while we were text messaging.  Or perhaps we could say that without knowing what we were doing, we have written a constitution and founded a new “United States of Frenemies.” Most importantly, technology will make this state of affairs increasingly bizarre in the years to come, leading to configurations that truly make no sense. In fact already they do not make sense.

세계의청소년들을완전히변화시킬문화 하버드대흑인졸업생의시각으로본한류

mariesa ricks

 Mariesa Ricks




2013년 2월, 나는예상치못한편지를받았다. 하버드대에서공중보건을공부하고있는한젊은여성이었다. 그녀는편지에서그녀의이름이마리사릭스(Mariesa Lee Ricks) 라는것과, 어머니가한국인이라는것, 그리고그녀가품은한국문화를향한깊은관심과동경에대해설명했다. 그녀는오늘날의미디어와통신기술을어떻게사용해야사람들이보다긍정적으로스스로를인식하고청소년들이건강에대해관심을가질수있는지에대해조사하고싶어했다. Read more of this post

“미국 선비의 한국문화를 위한 苦言” (EBS 초대석 이만열 인터뷰)

EBS 초대석

“미국 선비의 한국문화를 위한 苦言”

경희대 이만열 (임마누엘 페스트라이쉬) 교수 인터뷰


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


MNTV.NET Seoul starts TV broadcasts in multiple foreign languages:

Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched MNTV.NET, an experimental broadcast system for information about life in Seoul. Although the content is rather limited, the idea is quite novel because of the wide range of languages offered. It appears that the plan is to address not so much foreign tourists, as non-Koreans living in Seoul. That is to


say, to treat foreigners as citizens of the city. Here are the languages featured in the broadcasts:








Sinhala (Sri Lanka)





“will Psy go Veg?” on Youtube

“Will Psy Go Veg?”
March 25, 2013

Emanuel pleas with Psy that he should stop eating meat and ride a bicycle. If the world is looking to Psy for leadership after his hit “Gangnam Style” he has should show the world how we can protect the environment by not eating meat.

“Will Psy Go Veg?”

A Revolution in Seoul! The Return of the Fortress Wall

For the last sixty years, Seoul has been trying to forget its past and establish a new image, both at home and abroad, as a truly international city. Those bits of old Seoul, whether the palaces or old hanok houses, strike the observer as incongruous traces of a completely different world that somehow avoided the wreckers ball. Moreover, a key aspect of Seoul’s project for modernization has been the integration of the northern and southern banks of the Hangang River into one modern global city connected by freeways. It seems that the old streets crowded with grocery stores and dry goods had to be completely replaced with large-scale towers of glass and steel. That part is not uniquely Korean–it is the plague that swept the United States in the 1970s and only started to be turned around with the demolition of Penn Station in New York City.

But now a new image for the northern bank of the Han River is emerging and becoming very powerful. The new vision focuses on the fortress wall that has survived in part around old Seoul The new posters, such as this one below, make the fortress wall a defining element for Seoul and go so far as to sketch in the parts that have been razed.

The city of Seoul has put together a very impressive walking tour based around the fortress wall for tourists (and residents). I am delighted as someone who has often walked around the city wall and found it quite beautiful.

The second poster offers stamps for a cultural passport for those who visit each of four designated city gates in the fortress wall. In good Zhu Xi style, each wall is associated with a virtue–as the poster explains.

Even three years ago it would have been hard to imagine the city of Seoul making the fortress wall so central to its own

Read more of this post

Avatar Culture in Korea

Korea is swept by avatar culture: a tendency to define one’s identity in terms of virtual representations. Avatar culture is one of the driving forces behind plastic surgery, by the way, since avatar representations of the human body put immense pressure on the individual to conform–often to an entirely unrealistic, or fantastic, model.

This photograph represents quite accurately the broad impact of avatar culture in daily life.


Here are a few more avatar-like commercial images from downtown Seoul. Imagine the impact they have on young women who see them every day.


This address is interesting in several respects but above all in its emphasis on the transformative nature of culture and the value of a convergence of fields.

 Park Geun-hye

Inaugural Address as President of the Republic of Korea

February 25, 2013

“Opening a New Era of Hope”

My fellow Koreans and seven million fellow compatriots overseas,

As I take office as the 18th-term President of the Republic of Korea, I stand before you today determined to open a new era of hope.

I am profoundly grateful to the Korean people for entrusting this historic mission to me. I also thank President Lee Myung-bak, former Presidents, dignitaries who have come from abroad to celebrate this occasion, and other distinguished guests for their presence. Read more of this post

“홍익인간에서 한국교육의 미래를 찾다” (동아일보 기고문)



“홍익인간에서 한국교육의 미래를 찾다”


한국교육은 장점이 많다. 교육열이 높고 교사와 교재의 수준도 뛰어나다. 다만 결과와 등수만 중시하는 경쟁 위주의 교육제도는 문제다. 학생들은 서로 협력하기보다 1등만을 요구받는다. 인간의 가치도 숫자로만 결정된다. 이런 경향은 교육의 상대평가제도에서도 나타난다. 한국사회가 근대화 과정을 거치면서 생활수준을 연봉이나 경제 성장과 같은 수치로 판단하게 됐고 이게 교육에까지 영향을 미쳐 상대평가제도가 도입됐다. 그러나 인간에 대한 이해와 깨달음은 숫자로만 설명할 수 있는 게 아니다. 개인적으로 한국교육의 문제는 두 가지 착각에서 비롯됐다고 생각한다. 첫 번째는 경쟁을 해야만 선진국에 도달할 수 있다고 믿는 것이다. 하지만 이제 한국도 선진국이다. 어떤 부분에서는 미국보다 낫다. Read more of this post