Friday, April 23, 2010

Going Buggy

In the nineteen months that I have lived in my officetel, I have never seen a single cockroach, or ant, or any creepy-crawly. Likewise, I have rarely seen such critters in the streets or sidewalks--while it's true the unpleasant piles of garbage only lay around for a day or two at most, one would still expect to see a few decomposers seeking a treat.

And the same is true of flying insects--I can count on my fingers the number of mosquitos I have seen. They are big 'uns, though, I'll give 'em that. I have on a few occasions spotted the mosquito truck, however, with a small crowd of children trailing behind, dancing merrily in the noxious cloud it emits.

Therefore, I was a little surprised to read an article today in the Times about widespread fear resulting from reports that a species of mosquito transmitting viral diseases causing brain inflammation had been found. Apparently, the insect repellent aisles have been swept clean by worried citizens arming themselves against winged pests. Even though they've only been spotted on Jejudo, an island at the far southern tip of the peninsula, about as far from Seoul as it's possible to be, and still be in Korea!

I for one welcome our new insect overlords. But the article wasn't really about the mozzie scare: its headline is "Koreans Swayed by Herd Mentality"--not that that's necessarily news to some of us. According to a Seoul "analyst" quoted in the report:
Koreans are susceptible to herd mentality. When their neighbors do or believe something, many of them just follow suit. I regard Internet witch-hunting, real estate speculation or regional dominance of a certain party to stem from such a perspective.

Even the country's top financial officer worries about the unforseen effects of massive liquid asset shifts on the markets, particularly in real estate, once the recovery is on full steam.

In the bluntest language I have heard on the topic, the article, written by Kim Tae-qyu, also has this to say:
Another downside is that the mindset may call for mere conformity while intruding upon innovative thinking as amply demonstrated by partisan regionalism. In other words, herd mentality may choke innovation.
The nation's partisan regionalism, basically the long-lasting conflicts between Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces, has been improving over the past few decades.
However, such antagonism has still sprouted up during national elections. [... T]he only factor that counts is which party supports the candidate.

1 comment:

조안나 said...

What? You don't see mosquitoes? Not a day goes by in summer that I don't have at least one mosquito bite. My boyfriend would wake me up literally every single night in the summer to kill some mosquito that had been buzzing in his ear... Is it my close proximity to the Cheonggyechong? I thought everyone in Seoul had mosquito problems....