Monday, May 25, 2009

Apology Set #1

I have recently landed a very sweet gig that is based in Seoul but which I can do part-time online from Hawaii. I am working for the Korea Institute of Regrets and Apologies (KIRA). My job is to to read what English-speaking residents of Korea (ESReKs) are complaining online and listen to what they're griping about in person, and then offering apologies or regrets where appropriate. Today is my first day, so we'll have to see how it goes.

First off, on behalf of the Korean people, KIRA would like to officially apologize that all the apartments in Korea look the same. Back in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when the government was tasked with building massive numbers of modernish housing units for the 40 million plus people in this third-most-crowded country in the world that's not an urban city-state, most of the builders went with easily to replicate cement structures that could be built on a massive scale.

Little did planners know that, one or two decades later, so many ESReKs would take such offense at this and call it a major source of their displeasure living in Korea. The same with row after row of brick-and-cement houses from the Park and Chun eras, where houses are still even standing.

In fact, it sort of reminds me of the opening theme to "Weeds":
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
Of course, that's talking about American suburbia, not Korea, where houses are rarely green, blue, yellow, or pink. It's all institutional beige. And for that, too, KIRA issues an official apology.

Things are getting better, though. Many of the newest apartments come with parks, playgrounds, small shopping areas, etc., but you can't afford it. Neither can I or anybody at KIRA.

Oh, and while we're at it: on behalf of the Korean people, KIRA officially apologizes for motorcycles on the sidewalk. That's just inexcusable.

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