South Korea

Next stop, South Korea. An easier one this, because there’s so much going on in the country, and in many ways they’re way ahead of us.

Famously, there is [OhmyNews](, which got the attention of the net pundits a couple of years ago and sparked the craze for ‘Citizen Journalism’.

Then there’s gaming – the world of Korean MMORPGs is so far ahead of ours that it’s embarassing. A top player like [Lee Yunyeol]( can earn $200,000 a year, and is on television daily. Gaming/Internet cafes called “[PC Bangs](” are gradually being replaced by playing at home over a broadband connection, and so the national addiction continues to grow.

South Korean pop culture is taking over East Asia, in a trend given the moniker ‘[Hallyu](’, or ‘Korean Wave’. The anti-Hallyu backlash in Taiwan and Japan has made governments there consider restricting Korean-origin broadcasts on national television, and some have even demanded that Korean television broadcast programs from other countries. Currently trendy Korean exports include the film [Oldboy]( and the singer [Rain]( ([Ji-Hoon Jung]( But I wonder if the whole ‘Korean Wave’ is a storm in a teacup; in 2004 the revenues from foreign sales of Korean TV were only [$71.5m](

[Global Voices]( doesn’t cover Korea as well as I’d expected, but it does at least point to [Asian pages](, the diary of a foreign worker in South Korea.

Unlike with Mongolia, this has been all pop-culture and no politics. Korea is important enough that we get to hear about the bigger political stories anyway. Recently, the news has been how the [Prime minister forced to resign]( because he was playing golf rather than dealing with a rail strike. He’s been replaced by [South Korea’s first female Prime Minister]( And we all heard about the [cloning scandal](, because that had sex and science and scandal, all rolled up together.

So, that’s enough of Korea. On to the next country…somewhere East European this time, I think.

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