So I’ve been in Korea for a week, partly as a vacation and partly as a trip to explore the prospect of work and/or emigration. All in all, it’s been highly enjoyable. My hotel was great. Local transport has been first-class. The weather is too much for an Englishman of course, but then we’d probably find Finland oppressively balmy so I won’t dwell on that.
I’ve wanted to visit Asia (by which I mean East-Asia) for quite some time. Having earned a degree in International Politics, I have more than once dipped my head into articles predicting the collapse of the Western era and the inauguration of something longer lasting and less round-eyed.
Most enquiries in this vein concentrate on the rise of China, which is understandable but nevertheless provides a restricted view of what is happening. Looking at things more broadly, one can clearly see that it isn’t just the Chinese but the Asian cultural model that is working better than the Western equivalent, at least as it relates to economic well-being. Distinctions between Korea, China, Japan and Singapore are hardly thin on the ground, and some have even translated into bloodshed in the past, but more unites than divides these societies and they remain kindred, just as former combatants in the West like France and Germany, Britain and Italy etc… are nevertheless of the same type.
The Asian social model can be summarised by the following priorities:
1. Personal Health. 2. The absence of ideological politics. 3. A passive foreign policy. 4. Low to zero immigration. 5. The principle of orderliness as integral to social membership/denial of social membership for bohemian or unorthodox personalities.
These five principles explain much of the distinction Korea enjoys.
Health in particular is central to public life here. Korean foods, even snack foods, advertise themselves primarily by reference to their nutritional content. A pot of Gummy bears at the supermarket was branded ‘Calcium and Vitamin D health bears’. Korean Red Bull-type energy drinks are infused with Ginseng, vasolidating herbs and assorted minerals. It is very difficult to buy a bottle of water from a vending machine that isn’t either packed with health-boosting additives or spiked with nootropics.
In keeping with this expectation of fitness, health-deviants are treated with a routine contempt. Outside the airport, the booth known as the ‘smoker’s booth’ was actually a transparent box making those who ventured inside look like captured zoo animals. Obesity is rare among the young. Drug addiction meanwhile leads directly to unemployment. Alcohol is widely promoted but usually only privately and moderately consumed. Homeless people (if they exist) seem to be invisible. I was never once approached by a beggar, drug pusher or prostitute.
It seems in Korea, the fat and bones of modernity have been excised completely from the meat.
For these reasons and more, Conservatives tend to love Korea, and many wish to redesign the West according to its socio-economic model. Even on the ethno-nationalist right, the country has its admirers. Fruitloop Viking Anders Breivik made numerous references to the country in ‘2083’, and some of the fanatics on Stormfront.com suggest postponing the Rahowa genocide of Asians indefinitely or even endorse a strategic (but temporary) Asian-Aryan alliance against the Jewish-led army of Niggers and Spics. In the subculture of race-hate, this is no small compliment.
Having been here a week, it is very difficult to revise my draft evaluation of Korea as clean, hyper-modern and inspirational. Having said that, am I sad to leave? Not really.
For all its shiny modernity, Korea (and Koreans) lack something vitally important – salt. Before you call for men in white coats, let me explain…
VDare columnist John Derbyshire likes to use an expression to both summarise and satirize the liberal rationale for multiculturalism. He calls it the ‘salt in the stew’ argument. This view holds that societies made up of only one type are boring and tasteless and that a small amount of diversity makes them more palatable, much like salt does to staple foods. Of course, as Derbyshire never fails to note – ‘if you add too much salt then you’ve wrecked the stew’, but you follow his point.
You really couldn’t find a better illustration of a blandly saltless stew than Korea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the country import a boatload of Somalians and Pakistanis, but a few Germans, Australians, Jews and Italians wouldn’t go amiss. Even in Seoul, it took me an absurdly long time to find a shop selling non-Korean food and the dodgy looks one receives for not being Korean are impolite and intimidating. Isolation of the foreigner seems almost traditional here, and so those lacking Korean genetic markers tend to band together by necessity. When I ended up sharing a lift with an American, we greeted each other like long-lost friends.
It’s true of course that the West can learn a lot from Asia. As demographics shift in Europe and America in the future, we will quickly get used to a feeling of selective envy towards our East Asian friends. Complaints about the high-wall of Asian immigration policy may become commonplace in Europe and Asian cultural chauvinism will rise a matching pace. But for now, don’t despair. We still possess an edge. Our music is better. Our sense of humour is too. Our literature (especially in England) is of a higher order and the same is true of our television, news coverage and commentary. Given our better-developed tradition of individualism, we are also more artistically creative than Asians, and most Asian cultural exports (K-POP, drama, comedy etc…) are just factory bootlegs of our own initiatives.
Still, if you’re tempted to visit Korea (or Japan, which is also on my visit list), you probably won’t regret it. It’s a good country to experience for a week or so, and you may well leave comforted that although some of the stereotypes of Asian excellence are well-founded, the West still remains in front.
For now at least.