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Cronicas-->Visão de um vietnamita sobre a Coréia do Sul -- 05/06/2023 - 18:13 (Brazílio) Siga o Autor Destaque este autor Envie Outros Textos




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There is a lot of foreign perception that South Korea as a whole is an incredibly rich, modern and high-tech country, often because of misleading Korean media, such as K-Pop and K-drama (the whole K-Industry). While this perception is not ENTIRELY false, wealth and development within South Korea is often very condensed and concentrated within a few affluent areas.

Once you leave the rich areas of the city, you will arrive in very horribly run-down slums with squalid living conditions- don’t get me wrong, every country has these areas (even wealthy ones), but to the level South Korea experienced such poverty shocked me, especially since I had visited Japan sometime earlier, which although had poverty, was in general a much richer and more developed cousin of Korea. As a result of international media, I had a false belief the develpment and wealth of Korea would be similar or near the level of Japan (I didn’t expect it to match, I always knew Japan was richer, however I thought it would be much more even). Other than media, I have noticed, South Korea is also often made to look incredibly an rich and prosperous nation as a result of its poorer brother, North Korea’s extreme poverty.

I got my first glimpse of urban poverty in Korea shortly after I landed in the country- in fact on the first day. One of the first attractions I visited was the Seoul Wall, a famous Joseon Dynasty-era attraction. When I was walking around the area, I was utterly shocked at the poverty I saw; the whole area was dotted with dilapidated houses in an extremely poor conditions, something I had never expected out of a ‘First World’ country, such as Korea. And right in the MIDDLE of it all was a luxury hotel (I believe it was J.W. Marriott), however I can’t exactly remember. Either way, the contrast was shocking; who would want to stay in the hotel, it was such a downtrodden area?

Beneath is image of the Seoul City Wall from Wikipedia:

If you take a glimpse in the bottom right corner; you can see houses and shacks in a poorly-kept condition- although the way the area is presented in the image is much better than in real life.

Often times, poorly-kept slums in Seoul would be located directly next to very affluent districts, creating a stark contrast much like one famously seen it South Africa; this came as a shock to me, Seoul is one of the only places in the world where you can walk for 10 minutes along the road, and see a transition from glistening, polished, modern skyscrapers to extremely crowded and dirty encampments, often lined with beggars on the streets (the conditions for these residents are even worse in winter).

There are many more examples of this; but overall Korea is DEFINITELY MUCH POORER than many would expect to me; especially ‘Koreaboos’ who see it as some sort of amazing ‘heaven’.

P.S. I have nothing against South Korea as a whole, or Korean people, however I think it is an issue that should be shed light upon, and is an honest opinion from my Korea travel experiences (I’m sure many will think differently).

EDIT: A LOT of people in the comments have mentioned how I am from Vietnam, which is much more impoverished than Korea, and that I must have an inferiority complex, jealous of Korea. However, remember what the question is 'What country is poorer than most people think?’, not ‘What country is poor in general?’ Everyone knows that Vietnam is poor, not so much the case for Korea, especially among the Koreaboos who are all over the internet.

SECOND EDIT: I did not want to do this, but I have turned off comments for this posts. Many people in the comments don’t seem to understand what is being asked the question, or have a lot of national pride (fair enough if you’re Korean). Please understand the point I am trying to communicate before making assumptions.

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