What kind of social issues is South Korea facing at the moment? Are they similar to Australia’s social issues or is there something I hadn’t seen as an issue before? I had to ask myself these questions when deciding what to respond to in my own comics.
Having to focus on the tension between North and South Korea is a drain on South Korea’s economy, this is especially difficult when considering that Korea is caught between developed countries and rising one’s such as China and is struggling to compete in the world economy for resources and energy. In 1945, following world war two Japan gave up occupation of Korea, the North going to The Soviet Union and the South going to The United States. Since then, tensions have developed between the two countries to the point where the borders are lined with military from both sides. Being in such close proximity to rapidly developing countries, especially China puts stress on the cost of imports making them expensive for a country such as South Korea. South Korea is tenth on the list for world military balance 2015 from the international institute for strategic studies at $34.4 billion. This enormous cost means South Korea doesn’t have the wealth it needs to afford importing resources in the local economy.
South Korea is also suffering from a wealth gap in it’s society. South Korea’s Gini coefficient (which is a common measurement of inequality ranging from 0 being complete equality and 1 being complete inequality) “for 1990–1995 was 0.258, but with rising inequality its coefficient increased to 0.298 in 1999, two years after the onset of the financial crisis. It continued to increase, reaching 0.315 in 2010” (Koo, 2014). To put this into perspective Australia had a coefficient of 0.317 in the mid early 2000s, 0.315 in the mid 2000s and 0.336 in the late 2000s. While Australia’s Gini co-efficient is higher the change over the years is much greater overall in south Korea.
Both Australia and South Korea are experiencing low fertility rates and aging populations. In 2013 Australia had a recorded 1.88 babies per woman while South Korea had 1.19 per woman this combined with a rising average lifespan leads to a higher expected standard of living among youth which is not sustainable, a gradual decline in population leading to decreased productivity and a larger percentage of older population increases the unemployment rate. A recent multicultural policy has greatly increased immigration to South Korea which is helping to slow some of the effects of the aging population and low fertility rate while simultaneously focusing on foreign cultural education and Korean cultural immersion programs. Australia, on the other hand, has numerous policies for and against immigration that make it difficult to migrate to Australia to work or live.
According to a survey an overwhelming number of South Korean women support gay marriage where as South Korean generally do not. Despite this same-sex marriage remains illegal in South Korea. This is somewhat similar to Australia where Australiamarriageequality.org shows that the Australian public largely supports same-sex marriage although the Australian government is yet to allow it legally.
Most mornings I wake up, writhe in the discomfort of being awake and not being a morning person at all and angrily check reddit for my daily news. Anticipating my mood in the morning I have a multireddit with a bunch of serious news sources and some satirical stuff mixed in to make things a little easier on myself and let me tell you, sometimes I see some jokes and comics that absolutely tear into a politician or policy and I think to myself “How is that ok? How has this person able to get away with this especially when other comics have been jailed for saying anything?”. In researching for my individual ethnographic biography I’ve found there are plenty of political drama manga but it’s all fantasy/sci-fi/post apocalyptic/alternative reality stuff set in some other universe, rarely referencing real politics.
It’s a Case of National Security
“Political satire rides the Korean wave” by Hazel Mejia explains that South Korea has a national security law that allows for the criminalisation of satire. The law serves as a defence strategy against communism which supporters believe is necessary considering South Korea’s proximity to North Korea. Despite this, South Korea ranks higher on the press freedom index than Japan China and most other parts of Asia.
In 2011 an online podcast known as Naneun Ggomsuda began that satires specifically the Government of South Korea. The podcasts founder Kim Ou-Joon claims the he has ten million listeners which, if true, makes Naneun Ggomsuda (aka Naggomsu) one of the most popular podcasts in the world. South Korea has a population of fifty million, assuming that maybe half of the ten million listeners are in South Korea that would mean one in ten people in South Korea have listened to this podcast. I doubt on in ten people I know have seen Pewdiepie, the most subscribed channel on Youtube (I know a lot of older folks that don’t use computers). Because of it’s popularity Naggomsu is constantly subject to threats and lawsuits, Naggomsu is considered anti-government content and is not allowed to be viewed by members of the South Korean Military.
The Need To Talk
How can Naggomsu be so popular despite being an online podcast considered semi-illegal? It’s beloved because supporters deem it necessary to good politics. Critics see the national security law as a form of oppression to keep people in line. Funnily enough the law is intended to defend people from oppression. Pure freedom is arguably not an option but the ability to communicate and criticize gives us the power to make our own decisions and live with them. This ideology of control to protect has come under fire following the Terror attacks surrounding Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris in 2015 highlighting how limiting satire is crushing freedom of speech.
“The limited understanding of satire in the political realm has led to abuses of the law by the government, experts point out.” (Hyun-Ju and Hye-Jin 2015)
This is just a video of myself reading cheese in the trap with no prior experience with the comic and no understanding of the writing (because it’s in Korean and I don’t speak Korean).
At the beginning of the video where I repeat “I can’t” a bunch of times it’s because I lost my train of thought and couldn’t think of the words ‘read Korean’.
This was just a trial run which I’m not particularly happy about, I’m gonna aim to be a little more energetic and ‘in the moment’ as well as check to make sure the comic I’m reading is a little dynamic at least.
If I were to respond to this comic I might look into the representation of females in Korean texts.