Why S-Korean Government is “Afraid” of Single, Tech-Savvy Ladies More than Anything

Song Hye-kyo, that “Full House” k-drama protagonist, spotted showcasing her flawless moist facial skin
Reportedly, the current Korean Government has a growing concern with two things (aside from the North sibling): smartphones and mid-30s single women. If combined, the two are a trigger of a huge revolution. As my tour leader put it, “These erudite, tech savvy spinsters are no stragers to Internet, smartphones, and PCs. Once they complain, it could be the beginning of a riot for the whole country”. “A complaining gentleman is more easily appeased. Liquor will suffice. But women?” she nodded with utmost certainty.

Foto: Song Hye-kyo, that "Full House" k-drama protagonist, spotted  showcasing her flawless moist facial skin<br /><br />
Reportedly, the current Korean Government has a growing concern with two things (aside from the North sibling): smartphones and mid-30s single women. If combined, the two are a trigger of a huge revolution. As my tour leader put it, "These erudite, tech savvy spinsters are no stragers to Internet, smartphones, and PCs. Once they complain, it could be the beginning of a riot for the whole country". "A complaining gentleman is more easily appeased. Liquor will suffice. But women?" she nodded with utmost certainty.

Photo Blog: Korea Summer Excursion 2012

Lee Seung-gi and a faceless female model on an cosmetic ad billboard. It’s quite a rising trend to see more and more Korean males on cosmetic ads. And Korean males are NOT ashamed of pampering themselves with skin care products associated with their female counterparts. My tour leader, who has two sons in their mid twetnties, said the metrosexual sons may spend more time to wear make up and outfits than she does. Later on she explained how Koreans highly value physical appearance, which is why they don’t hesitate to splurge more on fancy and costly clothes and anti-aging skin care products. Really, anything that makes you live longer and look better will sell here.

Continue reading “Photo Blog: Korea Summer Excursion 2012”

Rose Lee: “Indonesia is the Heaven for Married Women”

This chic 51-year-young woman was my tour leader, Lee Kye-suk (이계숙). She has an endless supply of story on her mother land, Korea. Along the tour, she narrated various real-life stories. She may tell us about her two sons who just finished military service today, her late mother another night, her 84-year-old father the morning after, and so forth. She spoke so much in Bahasa Indonesia.

Rose Lee, that’s how she introduced herself to us, said Indonesia is the heaven of married women like her. That said, she meant no exaggeration. In Korea, it takes a fortune to pay full-time household assistants, drivers, or gardeners. In Indonesia, she found it really easy to find affordable household assistants,drivers and gardeners long time ago before the 98 crisis hit Indonesian economy so badly. She lived in Geger Kalong, Bandung.

Having so many helpers ready to assist, however, doesn’t necessarily mean she can wash her hands off of the most vital household chore of Korean women: preparing foods for the family. Korean mothers, she said, can’t just let others cook for their family. Food eaten is a decisive factor to maintain family’s health and well being and putting health at stake is too risky. That’s why Korean mothers keep cooking for their family in spite of employing several domestic asisstants in their houses. It is quite the contrary once you see Indonesian (urban) mothers . Most of them prefer their foods prepared by helpers.

 In terms of gender equality, Korea might be one of the most men-centered societies throughout the globe. Korean patriarchal way of life is easily noticed in any aspect.  And that naturally translates to the notion that women are assumed to be lower than men. Ladies are  strongly expected to take great care of family. It’s a full time job, and they can’t complain about it whatsoever. Korean women after marriage are to be held responsible for being the domestic helpers of their family (and the husbands’ too). The labor cost is surprisingly high in Korea, which makes women think a thousand times before working and climbing corporate carrier ladders. Hiring a baby sitter or domestic helper can be half or almost the entire sum of one’s current salary. Rose Lee said these manual workers make money 1.5 million won every month. At the same time, a career woman in Korea (with college degree) in average may earn around 2.9 million won. Women without college degree earn considerably lower than that. Thus, hiring helpers seems very much like a waste of money.

While here in Indonesia, career women can comfortably rely on the service of maids and baby sitters and their parents, Korean women have to struggle more as their parents have no intention to help them raise children. It’s not because they hate their own grandchildren but they want to take a rest. Raising children is way too energy consuming and the elderly shun such an idea.

Rose Lee later explained why we hardly find Korean spouses with 3 children. “One child is the most reasonable. Two tops!” she emphasized several times. “The ratio of children number in a typical Korean family recently is 1.1,” she added.

And because raising children is considered burden here, Korean people are currently facing a new problem. Like the neighboring Japan and our neighbor Singapore, Korea is also worried as day by day they have more seniors and fewer babies.

The aging population needed a handysolution. The innovative Korean government came up with one: subsidy. The government launched a subsidy campaign to boost more babies around Korea. The subsidy worth 500K won is aimed only at families having more than 3 children.

Pemimpin Sejati Dibicarakan dengan Bangga oleh Pengikutnya

Terdapat 4 parpol di Korsel. Selain itu, kursi untuk pihak independen juga ada. Kata Rose Lee, di sini para wakil rakyat suka ‘berlatih taekwondo’. You know what she meant.

Lee Kye-suk (이계숙)  terus berbicara dengan pengeras suara di depan bus kami setelah turun dari Seoul Tower sore itu, “Kalau mobil lewat jalur busway padahal tidak berhak, ia akan didenda. Karena ada kamera di sepanjang jalan, pelanggar akan dideteksi dengan mudah. Bisa didenda 50-70 ribu won”. Aku mendengarkan dengan seksama, sambil melihat keluar jendela. Banyak warga Seoul dan pengunjung berjalan sore di jalanan yang menanjak dan menurun tajam itu. Pepohonan di bukit juga rimbun bak hutan. Hanya saja ini di tengah kota.

Kye-suk yang lebih suka dipanggil Rose Lee ini terus bercerita seolah tak peduli kami mendengarnya atau tidak. Bahasa Indonesianya cukup lancar meski ada beberapa pilihan kata dan pengucapan yang kurang pas. Kali ini ia bercerita tentang pemimpinnya,”Ide ini digulirkan Lee Myung-bak. Ia dulu CEO Hyundai selama 24 tahun. Dulunya dia miskin. Saat SMA, ia miskin, sekolahnya malam hari, siang hari berjualan topi di depan sekolah perempuan. Ia pakai topi dan masker saat berjualan. Ibunya baik dan melihat Myung-bak berjualan. Saat melihat Myung-bak memakai masker dan  topi, ibunya menamparnya, “Jangan panggil saya mama, kamu bukan anak saya. Kenapa kamu malu? Kenapa pakai topi? Malu karena apa? Apakah bekerja dengan rajin adalah sesuatu yang memalukan?” Setelah itu Myung-bak muda berpikir , menurutnya ibunya benar. Mencuri adalah sesuatu yang memalukan. Berjualan dengan jujur bukan sesuatu yg memalukan. Hari berikutnya Myung-bak berjualan jepit rambut tanpa masker dan topi. Karena itulah, makin banyak pelanggan karena mereka mengetahui ramah dan tekunnya Myung-bak. Mereka bersimpati pada Myung-bak yang juga sepantaran tapi sudah harus bekerja keras. Penjualannya pun akhirnya meningkat. Saat pertama masuk Hyundai ia diperhatikan oleh atasan karena bekerja lebih rajin dan bersih, kantor lebih cepat bersih saat ia kerja. Oleh karenanya, Myung-bak  diberi beasiswa oleh Hyundai untuk kuliah”.

Cukup seru juga ceritanya. Apalagi saat membayangkan Myung-bak ditampar. Adegan dramatis a la drama Korea di TV pun terlintas. Rose Lee terus berceloteh, “Myung-bak adalah tipe pemimpin yang berpikir entrepreneurial, bukan politis. Ia mengutamakan apa yang terbaik bagi bangsanya bukan golongan atau partainya. Ia juga menyukai tenis, bukan golf. Meski golf adalah olahraga yang biasa disukai orang kaya. Gaya hidupnya juga sederhana. Pakai sepatu hingga 3 tahun. Walau CEO, pakai pakaian pegawai biasa. Itu supaya ia bisa turun tangan di pabrik tanpa takut kotor. Semua pegawai pakaiannya sama. Jam 6 masuk kantor, jam 7 olahraga dan makan bersama. Semua harus bangun pagi meski malamnya lembur atau mabuk. Mobil Hyundai nomor 4 terbaik di dunia. Murah dan bagus. Orang Seoul senang saat Myung-bak menjadi presiden Korea”.

Di kesempatan lain, Rose Lee menyinggung mantan presiden Korsel lain, Park Jeong-hee (박정희) yang katanya “berkuasa hingga belasan tahun (1963-1979) tetapi tidak pernah ada isu korupsi”. Entah benar atau tidak Presiden Park korup atau bersih, tapi kata-kata “tidak ada isu korupsi” begitu ia tekankan, dan ia bangga. Rose Lee mengucapkan itu dengan bangga. Ia seperti membisikkan teguran halus dengan kata-kata itu, “Presiden Park kami lain dengan Soeharto kamu itu“.

President Park.PNG
Park jeong-hee

Rose Lee mungkin kurang mau menceritakan bagaimana akhir hidup Presiden Roh Moo-hyun (노무현) yang melakukan bunuh diri 23 Mei 2009 karena tuduhan penyuapan. Roh Moo-hyun dikabarkan harus menanggung malu dan rasa bersalah yang demikian berat akibat tuduhan itu sebab penyelidikan juga ikut mengarah ke orang-orang terdekatnya: kakak kandungnya, istrinya, dan yang terpenting para pendukungnya di seluruh Korsel. Wajar saja. Roh mencanangkan tekad untuk membersihkan pemerintahan dari korupsi sebagai janji di masa kampanyenya, dan saat itu justru ia malah menjadi tersangka kasus penyuapan dan korupsi. Sangat berat memang. Meski ia masih hidup pun sudah tidak bisa menegakkan kepala lagi.

Pikiran kembali melayang setelah Rose Lee meletakkan mikrofon dan mengucapkan “gamsahamnida” (terima kasih). Bisakah kita menceritakan kisah  para pemimpin kita saat ini dengan antusiasme dan kebanggaan yang lebih tinggi dari yang Rose Lee miliki terhadap Lee Myung-bak dan Park Jeong-hee? Only time will tell.

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