Tag Archives: seoul

Envelope for bribes

Kyobo Books in Gwanghwamun is increasingly not about books at all. The space sells everything from clothing and speakers to food and candles. But this bit of stationary caught my eye today. The envelope you might use for a end-of-the-year letter to a close associate is marked explicitly with the words “bribe!” Some distinct Korean form of humor?

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Seoul City initiatives to improve lives of women

The status of women in Korea is a great mystery. Without any doubt, many of the  most thoughtful thinkers are women and women show a assertiveness and determination in school that is striking. Yet within organizations, women have not fared that well.

Seoul City has launched several initiatives to improve the lives of women. Here is a sign that I saw today near my home. Read more of this post

“The Rise of Consumption and the Demise of Causality” (essay)

“The Rise of Consumption and the Demise of Causality”


Emanuel Pastreich

There are two enormous challenges today that seem unrelated and yet perhaps can be directly connected through a more profound consideration of the impact of technology on society: the rise of consumption culture and the demise of causality in our thinking, specifically with reference to the impact of our actions on the environment.

The first challenge is the challenge of greed and consumption. There is a deep need among people to consume that has assumed a crisis level in advanced industrial nations, reaching a level completely out of line with either the economic situation (which is dire) or human needs. That need to consume is spreading rapidly. It is common to attribute this situation to “greed” without much consideration for what it is that generates greed, how that act has its own social, historical and even physiological aspects.   Read more of this post

Talk about culture and education for elementary and high school principals

I gave a talk about education and culture on June 17, 2012 in front of a group of about one hundred principals of elementary and high schools in Seoul organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (서울시교육청). This “Principals Forum” was the first of its kind, a voluntary gathering of principals from around Seoul to exchange opinions on how education can be improved in Korea.

Emanuel talks with prinicipals about culture and education

Read more of this post

Asia Institute Seminar with Professor Noam Chomsky (video)

Asia Institute Seminar


Professor Noam Chomsky

Department of Linguistics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


The Asia Institute held this Webinar with Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT on December 3, 2011 as a webinar between Seoul, Korea and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Professor Chomsky discussed how youth can effectively work to change the world and improve policies at both the local and international levels. He stressed the need for youth around the world to work together and to come up with their own solutions, saying repeatedly that the answer must come from students, not from him. When told that he was the leading progressive intellectual in the United States, he promptly replied, “I resign!”

There have been several Korean media interviews with Professor Chomsky over the years, but this seminar was the first time that Korean students, including those not fluent in English, were able to ask Professor Chomsky questions directly. This dialog between experts and young people is emblematic of the Asia Institute approach to contemporary issues. Professor Chomsky later remarked, “I much appreciated the opportunity.”

Video on Youtube: 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Seoul goes Global (this time for real!)

Seoul is stepping into a much accelerated rate of internationalization over the last six months, so much that I would argue that Seoul should no longer be considered as representative of Korea, but put in a new class of global cities that are competing for global domination in economics, culture, education and prestige. That is to say, Seoul is going head to head with Dubai, Singapore, New York, London and Shanghai in a race for the top seat. You can refer to my previous short post on the next Byzantium  for a few thoughts on this phenomenon.

For example Seoul is going through a wave of enormous building projects such as the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park that may well fundamentally alter the landscape of the city. Read more of this post