Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Different Perspective



Well, I know I said I'd be back over a year ago and haven't posted since.  However, new year and a new start.  I am well and truly settled in to living in Australia now and although things are running pretty smoothly, there are still plenty of things to complain about (and that's essentially what this blog was all about, right?), so some cathartic writing is in order and the blog has been resurrected from the ashes.

I must also thank one of my readers for helping me contemplate getting things restarted, I forgot just how much I enjoyed putting my thoughts into writing.  Having no artistic ability at all, this seems one of the few ways I can actually create something, and of course, I love a good argument.

I would often receive criticism in Korea from readers saying something like, "Why don't you criticise your own culture?"  Well, I'd like to think my blogs on Korea weren't all negative, I did have many positive things to say.  I do quite like to moan though, and I can see how I could come across as a bit of an old curmudgeon towards Korean culture. I did always retort that I had just as many dislikes about my own dear culture, and here is the blog that will prove it.  I am quite sure that I won't have many people berating me for criticising Western culture, Australian and British specifically.

So why connect what may essentially be a diatribe against certain aspects of life in the Western world with Korea?  Well, mainly because many of the things that now irk me about living in Australia and some of the issues I see from afar happening to my dear country of birth, bother me precisely because I lived in Korea.  What was good about Korea is often bad in Australia or Britain and vice versa, from a perspective that is quite possibly only available to someone who has lived in a radically different culture.  Korea will be very relevant to much of what I write in future months.

Plato's "Allegory of the Cave", drawing by Markus Maurer
There are many things I am troubled by upon returning from topsy-turvy land and an unrest created by a reverse culture shock.  Why can't we have the best of both worlds?  Is that even possible?  Will I ever be truly comfortable living anywhere now or will the knowledge that things can be done better elsewhere get the better of me?

Can't live here, can't live there, stuck in the middle, this is often what my wife tells me about her feelings on that matter.  I must admit to giving thought to the idea of returning to my cosy existence in Korea, as there was much to like and life seems much more complicated in Australia.  I console myself with the thought, borrowed from Plato, that while I may be wholly content sitting in the cave, walking outside into the light, while painful at first, can produce a richer, more fulfilling existence.  I think this may be a thought many who have lived in lands far away (and certainly in Korea) can relate to.


So on that very profound note, I hope you enjoy the posts to come.

3 comments:

  1. Fully understand the feelings of reverse culture shock, and never being happy anywhere because there's always somewhere that does one annoying thing better (like public transport in Korea, compared to the UK).

    Enjoyed the reference to Plato's cave also. Never thought of it as an allegory (if that's the right word) for travel actually.

    Ben from Monkeyboy Goes.

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    1. Ha, yeah the public transport in the UK is a constant source of frustration. England is largely flat too, SK have to drill tunnels through mountains every few miles, yet it is still cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient. Go figure.

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