Thousands of expatriates living and working in Korea have, by now, checked out this video. EV Boyz are, if they haven’t already moved up to the big time by virtue of this viral hit, teachers at Paju Camp of the Gyeonggi English Village, just a few short miles south of the frontier with N. Korea at Panmunjom. Tens of thousands of gleeful English teachers made (rightfully enough) to feel like special insiders by line after line of this lighthearted rap rampage through the small city where I live, have undoubtedly made this YouTube unit a favorite. I know I have. If you’re reading this on my blog (and I can’t imagine where else you might read it, unless you are one of the online spooks recruited by the Bushwacker spy machine and have camped out on my motherboard) the new photo at the top is looking west toward the English Village (EV-get it?) straight down Center Street. That’s the new (and old) Geumchon Station at the end, with it’s spanking new giant video display billboard hard by it.
I love this video, and my hat is off to EVBoyz for what they’ve done with it. It gets in its culture critic licks with humane and lighthearted verve, and the timing couldn’t be better for it, given the current political climate in the country. The new president’s honeymoon was cut short by the bride absconding with a mad cow, and returning at the head of a growing mob of citizens looking to go home with the president’s head and genitalia, in no particular order. Some commentators see a conspiracy of black-handed America-haters behind the imbroglio, while others chalk it up to the unflattering inability of many Koreans to discern the difference between reason and the waste products of bovines with mental health issues. (RIP-George Carlin!).
The action, in the form of nightly street demonstrations in Gwanghwamun, start out like most such activities, going back to my arrival in Korea in 1987, to teach English at a university run by a major, and very respectable sect of Buddhism. The police assemble in force. The demonstrators assemble in force. The demonstrators throw all the force they have mustered against the immovable force of the cops. Gas, stones, firebombs and curses fly for a few hours, everybody goes home and the cleaning crews come out to make the theater impeccable for the repeat of tomorrow’s pretty much identical production.
It all occurs a little further away from the front door of the US Embassy than the trajectory and range of a hand-delivered Molotov Cocktail, and to be fair to both sides, really lacks the same intensity as the pro-Democracy movement of twenty years previous, and of which no small number of participants have since participated at every level of government and civic institution in the country. It can be a bit of a head-scratcher to understand, even for those foreigners of us (and more than a few Koreans, too). I don’t pretend to understand it myself, given that the same people, in getting so worked up about Mad Cow disease, are utterly unmoved, at least apparently so, by much more troublesome issues, in terms of real or potential effects on the public health, of numerous instances of adulterated food products from China, and multiple cases reported of manufactured foods being adulterated with, well, all kinds of shit.
It all reminds me of an observation I read recently in Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene”, that more people will sign up to volunteer to put themselves in a life-threatening military unit when their country is at war than can be found to volunteer to do anything to help their neighbors raise their standard of living in some small way during peacetime. I guess it’s ideas like that which cause a person to become obsessed with the whys and wherefores of evolution.