Saturday, May 5, 2018

End of Week 1 in Seoul: Random Observations

I haven't been blogging much as I have been pretty fried by the joy of transcription.  The downside of super-interesting interviews is the process of turning my handwritten notes and recordings into documents on my computer.  On the bright side, doing so in an ill-setup hotel room has reminded me that my ergonomic setups at home and at my office are, indeed, ergonomic.  I manage, but it makes additional computer work not too attractive.  Still, I learn and I observe.  So:
  • Douglas MacArthur would have tenure here.  That is, old soldiers don't die or fade away--they become professors.  My fixer lined up a bunch of interviews with profs, and I said that I didn't need to meet so many of my kind.  She told me that I wanted to meet retired mil types and that is where they are.
  • Anecdata once again gets trumped by reality.  If I didn't know South Korea had declining fertility (it is super costly to have kids and educate them), I would swear that this place has no problems.  I have seen many of kids and many young canoodling couples, but what I notice ain't representative.  
  • I learned today that Seoul used to have the awful, unhelpful system of Tokyo where instead of streetnames and clear addresses, they had the numbers that represented quadrant-subquadrant-subsub-quandrant.  Yuck.   Only five years or so, it was changed.  
  • I don't know why I feel more comfy with Japanese food than Korean, but I do.  Tonight's street fair made it less challenging as the food trucks had more English so that I could avoid intestines and raw octopus easily.
  • I learned some Korean history thanks to the National Museum, which reinforced some of the stuff I noticed at the War Memorial.   The history of patterns of kingdoms unifying the peninsula and dividing it was kind of striking.  As was the history of invasions from Japan and China and relying on the Chinese to thwart the Japanese.
  • Can't help but think about M*A*S*H when I see destinations on the subway that seem familiar, such as Gimpo.  Or when I see helos like this: 

  • The National Museum is huge.... which I guess is what usually happens with such places.

  • Oh, and the right wing types here also wear red hats apparently:

Anyhow, I have not done that much tourism since I have been very busy interviewing--I even had one today on a Saturday.  Next week, I will be averaging 2-3 interviews a day, which is quite good.  I was concerned that I would not get many interviews, especially with elections next month, but once again, better to be lucky than good.  I have a great fixer who has lined up really interesting people and two great interpreters.  And I definitely depend on the kindness of strangers--these folks willing to talk to me. 

1 comment:

Greg Sanders said...

This is my own anecdata, but I think the kids and young couples may be localized to Seoul. I had the chance to visit Busan on a different trip, and the population of young adults seemed much lower there and there also seemed to be more older people working service jobs.

That said, after a bit of Googling, I found some data against my hypothesis and nothing in support. Apparently the percentage of adolescence (15-24) is actually a tad lower in Seoul than in South Korea writ large.