Do I dare say it? Ok, I’ll just throw it out there…
Korea is more technologically advanced than America.
There, I said it! Unless things have dramatically changed during the last 10 months, I think this is true. Is it? Hold up. Wait….let’s think about this…
First of all, let’s define “technologically advancement”. What does that mean? Does it mean having better nuclear technology? Does it mean putting a man on the moon? How about sending Rover to Mars? Does it mean having the capability to shoot laser beams out of your ass?? I don’t think so. Who cares about all that because its stuff everyday people like YOU and me can’t even use!
If we constrain it a bit and define it as such, then we might have a case here. I define technological advancement as the successful commercialization (and into the hands of the consumer) of anything that makes your life easier, efficient or just simply better than it was before. The commercialization part is key because you can have flying cars, but what good is the technology if everyday people can’t even afford to use it.
Secondly, to put this into perspective: In THIS day and age, with ALL the countries in the world, when comparing the largest economy to the 11th largest in the world , you can barely find a difference other than culture. Anything that is available in the States is available here, if not more.
Am I being a little far-fetched? Well let’s see. I guess the next step would be to list some examples.
- The successful commercialization and affordability of the DMB phone not to mention PMP devices: I forget what DMB stands for but it’s basically watching live tv from your cell phone. The quality is superb as I was watching the Korean baseball team play during the World Baseball Classic on one. The cost? Unlimited viewing time and 10 channels for close to $10 a month. As for Portable Media Players (PMP), I know Ipod just recently rolled out with the Ipod Video, but PMPs have been on the market here for some time now and are pretty common to find in everyday life.
- GPS navigation for cars: Of course they are available in the States, but it’s just that they are expensive there. Most people bypass that option when buying their cars. Here its in just about every car, not to mention every taxi.
- Subway cards: Am I the only one who’s impressed with these T-Money cards? Maybe its because I’ve spent 6 years living in New York City and accustomed to the archaic method in which they swipe cards through a slot in order to enter the turnstiles. I mean it wasn’t even too long ago before that they were using the token system. These subway cards they use in Korea must be radio-active or something cause they swipe without even taking the card out of you wallet. Girls don’t even have to take it out of the purses. Just set the purse in the designated area and Ding…your in! I won’t even go into the credit card or cell phone swipers yet. It’s beyond imagination without actually seeing one in action first hand.
- Bidets or a Loo Loo: Oh yeah baby! These are definitly the way of the future. Its just a cleaner feeling. We aren’t too far from the “3 sea shells” mystery in the futuristic movie Demolition Man. Now available in most households, the successful marketing of this product here has made the Loo Loo a household name next to words like Kleenex in the States.
- Internet penetration: I don’t think anyone in the world can deny or contest Korea in this arena. Korea is by far the most wired country in this world. The internet is crazy here! The websites are amazing. MSN messenger everyone uses for chatting is way superior over its rival AIM. Not only do emoticons let you say more, but its a better system to send files. Also the online gaming industry has got taken off! My 68 year old aunt plays Go Stop with other live players online and even has her own cyworld page. I also read in the paper the other day that 50% of kids aged 3-5 in Korea access the internet.
Shall I continue? I think you get the point, but just to make sure I will jot down some other notables:
- the KTX- Korea’s bullet train, memory chip key chains, the whole internet banking experience, default options loaded on cell phones.
Life is good out here and it’s definitly on the cutting edge of getting better.
After a bad lunch, Mr. Kim and I had a pretty brutal case of the runs and were sitting on the toilets at work. As he pushes down on the sprinkle function on the bidet the 45 yo office manager snides, “Frankly speaking, there used was a time when I dreamed of living in America. But now I think…why would I want to do a silly thing like that?”