Thoughts on urban planning, city design, architecture, the built environment, social issues, Seoul, Korea, and soon... London


Rhetorical Excess in South Korea 

Rhetorical excess -- this term would be an accurate descriptor for most government and big business English-language dispatches, especially those focusing on future plans. Steeped in superlatives -- the world's best, No. 1, the greatest, the largest, state-of-the art, world leader -- these dispatches smack more of an inferiority complex than ambition. At times it would seem South Korea's political elites and business moguls have yet to forgo schoolyard competitiveness.

With the vantage of looking back, perhaps the rhetorical excesses may indeed spring from some form of ambition -- like that which helped the nation repay its loans from the IMF in record time and overcome the economic crisis that caused need for those loans. This notion is reified if one looks at the tempering of the rhetorical excess by the economic slump weighing down the nation over the last year or two. Does this mean, the upper echelons of old men leading business and government are starting to realize they just need to learn to focus on being good before being the best? My guess, however, is that they are too mired in covering up their bribery and corruption and evading formal charges to pay attention to anything else in the meantime.

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