South Koreans are among those working the longest number of hours in industrialised countries, averaging 2,256 a year compared with 1,647 in the UK or 1,778 in the US, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. But despite being extremely hardworking, their productivity measured among the lowest of the OECD's members. (OECD 2010 average annual hours)
To me it seems normal that it's so. You just can't be efficient and productive in a long working day. But that doesn't bother anyone here. Long working hours are the sign of your devotion to work and it absolutely doesn't matter if you're just wasting your time in the office. Two years ago I met a genetist from Switzerland and we had a conversation about Japan. I told him of my experiences on Tokunoshima, where we spent a lot of time just pretending to be busy. He couldn't believe it, in his eyes the Japanese are extremely hardworking and to make an example he told me about two Japanese scientist that worked for a year at the same institute in Geneva as him. He started talking how the two were always first at the institute and the last to leave and then he fell silent for a moment. And recalled that while the two were always there, he can't really remember to have seen them working a lot of times.
Another example of Confucian historical burden in Asia is the educational system. In Korea they spend insane ammount of time and money studying English. They have a set of exames to pass and when I saw some books I tought that I could hardly pass such an exam. Yet the results are very poor (but still a bit better than in Japan) and they have hard times to make a decent conversation. Of course nobody dares to point out that it's the fault of the system, how could you possibly have tought of that, no, it's the students that don't work hard enough so now they invented a way to solve this conversational deficit: they are adding to the already demanding exams an oral test. I'm almost positive that it's gonna be just a huge amount of text to memorize and repeat like a parrot in front of the commission.
Another sign of this very well organised disorganisation is present also in the slavery I do now. Near the house where we live there are some huge radish fields. Do you think that we do them? Don't be naive, it would be too simple. They drove teams here by bus to do the work. And few days later we went to work something like 150km away, just on the border with North Korea, near the DMZ. Just being near the DMZ was unpleasant enough, with guardposts every few hundred meters and all that barbwire. When I was shown a sign near the field I felt even more uncomfortable - we were working near a mine field. I was warned not to make stupid jokes like throwing radish on that side. And then came a moment when I became worried. Well, to tell the truth, I was scared. It was cloudy, but it wasn't thunder what I heard. I really don't understand how anybody can mistake artillery fire for thunder. And when it went on and the locals were still cool I understood it's just manouvres but the bad feeling remained. At least we had some great sightseeing on the way back, we passed near the Seorak mountains.
The second part of tis entry was censored. By myself. It was long, raging and full of violence and hate speech. But now I'm all so soft and tender that I'm almost disgusting. It will be clear at the end. To make it short and simple, without rabid raving - someone stole my money. It was an insider job, some Chinese. Don't start shouting about my racism - there were only and only Chinese around me. I was almost done there, had enough money and then this blow. It left me speechless. I could only scream in frustration because there was 10 people in the house and I will never know who did this. So I prolonged my slavery till today, made my money again and for the last two weeks lived like a paranoid - sleeping with my wallet and passport. And today I packed and left - for Jinbu. With a big bag full of different Korean cakes - it's chuseok and my princes first bowed to me than jumped in my hug and kissed me. Home sweet home.
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