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Archive for September, 2003

Disneyland Report

Posted by Brian on September 25, 2003

Spent all day Monday with my girlfriend at the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim. Here's my report:

  • As someone mentioned in the comments section below, several of the rides were down. Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, and the Haunted Mansion were all closed for repairs or refurbishings. Now, the fact that the first two were closed didn't bother me too much. It was a bummer that Big Thunder was closed, but seeing as how some poor guy died on the ride a few weeks ago, understandable. But not being able to visit the Haunted Mansion was a huge let-down. It's a great ride, and I was sure it would have scared the hell out of my girlfriend. But unfortunately, they were doing some work on it for a special Halloween theme. Lame…
  • Tomorrowland was totally revamped. There was some Star Wars ride that could have been fun, but those stationary rides that simulate movement through a large-screen projection and having the "car" swivel around on an axis (such as the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios) get me really sick. Also new was something called Innoventions, but we didn't bother with it.
  • Two of my favorite rides from my childhood were gone: the submarine ride and that goofy sci-fi ride that shrunk you down to the size of an atom. I had heard earlier that the submarine ride was gone, so I figured they had built something else in its place. But to my surpise, the water is still there, with all the fake fish and other undersea floura and fauna still in the "ocean." The other ride I missed wasn't all that exciting, but it was fun and you rarely had to wait in line for very long.
  • Among the newer rides, the Indiana Jones ride was by far the best. It was one of the first rides we hit in the morning, so we didn't have to wait very long to board. It was great… a ride in a safari jeep deep into a cave with Indie watching your back.
  • Toontown was fun, but home to what must be the ride with the worst wait-time to ride-time ratio in the world: the Go Coaster, I think it was called. We must have waited close to 30 minutes for a ride that took about a minute and 15 seconds. My girlfriend wanted to ride it… not me.
  • Many of the classics remained though: The Pirates of the Caribean, It's a Small World, the Matterhorn… these rides were great the last time I visited Disneyland 14 years ago, and they're still great today.
  • Maybe it's because my legs are longer, but the park seemed smaller than I remember it. As a kid, the place was vast, and my friends and I would spend a lot of time just running around the park from place to place. We would be there from early morning to late at night, and we always left feeling like we missed something. But on Monday, I was suprised at just how quickly we could walk from one end to the other.

I'll be returning to Seattle tonight and should be able to resume my usual blogging tomorrow morning. I've missed a lot of news and need to catch up.

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Korea’s Image vs. Reality

Posted by Brian on September 17, 2003

Yesterday at about 5:30pm PST, CNN was showing a report on the current Korean nuke crisis that used a montage of recent video clips of South Korean politicans slugging it out to illustrate the domestic divide on the issue. I found it, well… funny, while my (Korean) girlfriend was quite ashamed by the childish behavior exhibited by people who are supposed to be leaders in her country.

Their behavior, and her response, brings to mind one of the more interesting paradoxes that can be found in and among Korean people: Korea’s obsession with its image abroad vs. the behavior of Koreans themselves.

Ask anyone who has spent time in Korea or pays attention to the Korean press: Koreans are fixated on how the world sees them. The media often mulls over the issue, with regular editorials coming down on those within society that “harm” Korea’s image abroad (usually corrupt businessmen or mighty kung-fu warriors working day jobs as Korean politicians). Large international events (World Cup, Olympics, etc.) are invariably seen by Koreans as a chance to strut their stuff to the world, with the actual event itself nothing but a sideshow to the real goal of flashing as many flat screen tv’s, tiny hand phones, and high-speed internet connections as possible to visitors in a heavy-handed attempt at proving “Korea’s competence” (a phrase used by the Korea Times a few years back) to the world.

Implicit in all this is a Korean view of the world that sees practically everyone else as either Korea-haters or Korea-ignorers. They usually cite Korea’s short and turbulent democracy, the native protest culture (unions and students), Korea’s unfortunate (but true) reputation for engineering disasters, and their kooky cousins in the North as the reasons for Korea’s lack of respect around the globe. This feeling that the rest of the world is somehow looking down on Korea drives Koreans to go to great lengths to right this perceived injustice.

Now, I say this is a paradox because in my experience, the goals of the Korean government and the Korea people as a whole (that is, improving Korea’s image abroad), is more often than not ruined by the behavior of individual Koreans themselves. In other words, everyone in Korea says they want the world to like and respect them, but on an individual level they just don’t seem to care, and this makes them their own worst enemy as they strive to improve their image.

You can see this in action whenever you see pictures and videos of Korean pols re-enacting a bar fight at the National Assembly; or when Korean passengers on planes ignore directions from the flight crew and jump out of their seat as soon as the plane hits the tarmac; or when protestors get violent over whatever the latest protest-inducing issue is; or when pure cowardice and lax safety inspections results in the deaths of 200 people at a subway station. I see all this going on and I wonder, do these people really care what the world thinks about them? Because it certainly doesn’t seem that way, otherwise, middle-aged men in suits and ties wouldn’t be throwing punches in front of a video camera.

If Korea is really serious about improving their image overseas, I suggest the government dump this crusade they’re on and instead work on making Korea a better place for Koreans and foreigners to live. The standard of living will improve all around, word will spread, and the world will be impressed. Individual Koreans also need to do their part, meaning that if Korea’s image abroad is important to them, they need to realize their behavior affects the way people see their country, whether they like it or not.

UPDATE: Big Hominid comments (and even points out a misspelling in my piece. Damnit!)

Posted in Korean Issues | Leave a Comment »