Don’t be fooled by the bright lights, the zingy K-pop music, the ubiquitous technology. South Korea is, in the minds of many young people here, a living hell — and they’re not going to take it anymore.
It’s a place where, according to a growing number of 20- and 30-somethings, those born with a “golden spoon” in their mouths get into the best universities and secure the plum jobs, while those born with a “dirt spoon” work long hours in low-paying jobs without benefits.
This Korea even has a special name: “Hell Joseon,” a phrase that harks back to the five-century-long Joseon dynasty in which Confucian hierarchies became entrenched in Korea and when a feudal system determined who got ahead and who didn’t.
“It’s hard to imagine myself getting married and having kids. There is no answer or future for us,” says Hwang Min-joo, a 26-year-old writer for television shows.
Hwang often goes to work on a Monday morning with her suitcase, not leaving again until Thursday night. She eats at her office, takes a shower at her office, sleeps in bunk beds at her office. “If I finish work at 9 p.m., that’s a short day,” she said.
Paychecks come irregularly — or not at all, if the show gets axed — and because she doesn’t have a contract, Hwang wonders when she goes to sleep each night whether she’ll still have a job in the morning. She can make this life work only by living at home with her parents — when she goes home, that is.
“If you have enough money, South Korea is a great place to live. But if you don’t . . .” she trails off.
- What are the challenges faced by the (young) people in your country/hometown/city?
- Why has this come about?
- How can these problems be solved?
- What is your vision of an ideal world?
- If something you own breaks down, what would you doo? Repair it or get a new one?
- Why do some people think it is important to repair things rather than throwing them away?
The South China Sea’s disputed waters are claimed by seven countries, and The Hague rulings came in response to a case brought against China by the Philippines. China dismissed The Hague’s decision as “nothing but a scrap of paper.”
The tribunal found that damage to the coral reefs in the Spratly Islands is extensive, spreading for more than 30 square miles. Much of that damage is caused by China’s island-building — turning pristine reefs into permanent military outposts that include massive runways.
However destructive the island-building is, it’s nothing compared to the damage done by the poaching of giant clams, says Carpenter. Chinese fishermen have been destroying entire reefs, he says, by using propellers to try to dredge up and harvest the clams, which appear on the IUCN Red List as a “vulnerable” species.
Even if China were to abandon the artificial islands, he warns, the environment in the area could take decades — if ever — to recover. Tearing down the islands at this point, he says, isn’t the answer, either, and would cause more damage than has already been done.
Some background information from Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spratly_Islands_dispute
The Spratly Islands dispute is an ongoing territorial dispute between Brunei, China (People’s Republic of China), Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, concerning ownership of the Spratly Islands, a group of islands and associated “maritime features” (reefs, banks, cays, etc.) located in the South China Sea. The dispute is characterised by diplomatic stalemate and the employment of military pressure techniques (such as military occupation of disputed territory) in the advancement of national territorial claims. All except Brunei occupy some of the maritime features.
There has been a sharp rise in media coverage owing mainly to China’s increasingly vocal objection to the presence of American naval vessels transiting the area in order to assert the right to freedom of navigation within international waters.
Most of the “maritime features” in this area have at least six names: The “International name”, usually in English; the “Chinese name”, sometimes different for PRC and ROC, (and also in different character-sets); the Vietnamese, Philippine and Malaysian names, and also, there are alternate names, (e.g. Spratly Island is also known as Storm Island), and sometimes names with “colonial” origins (French, Portuguese, Spanish, British, etc.).
The Spratly Islands are important for economic and strategic reasons. The Spratly area holds potentially significant, but largely unexplored, reserves of oil and natural gas; it is a productive area for world fishing; it is one of the busiest areas of commercial shipping traffic; and surrounding countries would get an extended continental shelf if their claims were recognised. In addition to economic incentives, the Spratlys sit astride major maritime trade routes to Northeast Asia, giving them added significance as positions from which to monitor maritime activity in the South China Sea and to potentially base and project military force from. In 2014, China drew increased international attention due to its dredging activities within the Spratlys, amidst speculation it is planning to further develop its military presence in the area. In 2015 satellite imagery revealed that China was rapidly constructing an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef within the Spratlys whilst continuing its land reclamation activities at other sites. Only China (PRC), Taiwan (ROC), and Vietnam have made claims based on historical sovereignty of the islands. The Philippines, however, claims part of the area as its territory underUNCLOS, an agreement parts of which have been ratified by the countries involved in the Spratly islands dispute.
- What do you know of the Spratly Islands’ Dispute?
- Why might the countries want to claim ownership of these islands?
- What impact might this dispute have?
In a previous article, I call people like Elon Musk “expert-generalists” (a term coined by Orit Gadiesh, chairman of Bain & Company). Expert-generalists study widely in many different fields, understand deeper principles that connect those fields, and then apply the principles to their core specialty.
If you’re someone who loves learning in different areas, you’re probably familiar with this well-intentioned advice:
“Grow up. Focus on just one field.”
“Jack of all trades. Master of none.”
The implicit assumption is that if you study in multiple areas, you’ll only learn at a surface level, never gain mastery.
The success of expert-generalists throughout time shows that this is wrong. Learning across multiple fields provides an information advantage (and therefore an innovation advantage) because most people focus on just one field.
For example, if you’re in the tech industry and everyone else is just reading tech publications, but you also know a lot about biology, you have the ability to come up with ideas that almost no one else could. Vice-versa. If you’re in biology, but you you also understand artificial intelligence, you have an information advantage over everyone else who stays siloed.
Despite this basic insight, few people actually learn beyond their industry.
Each new field we learn that is unfamiliar to others in our field gives us the ability to make combinations that they can’t. This is the expert-generalist advantage.
- Is it better to learn deeply from one subject (depth), or learn from many subjects but at a more superficial level (breadth)?
- What is the way that you learn best?
Such adaptability are sorely needed by the US tech giants if they wish to succeed in China.
Not only must they be fast and nimble, but they have to also be prepared to rip apart their winning formula and offer a vastly different product in China.