Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Perspective. Differences a World away

Today marked the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The war to end all wars.

It is very hard these days for most Europeans to imagine the horrors of so long ago. We truly do live in a different age, but the sacrifices and fatalities of those involved must never be forgotten. This must never be allowed to happen again.

Here in Korea I haven't seen or heard anywhere even acknowledging Remembrance Day (CNN apart), not even from co-workers. Why am I stunned about this? Korea was never involved in that war. Should it be covered here, should people know about what happened? Should the people here care? Yes, they should. But this is Korea and Asia, so what do we have on November 11th every year?

Pepero Day, or 빼빼로 데이

A truly ridiculous fake celebration day. It could only happen in Asia. Perhaps. Breaking it down, a few years ago a snack-food company engineered a day where people should give their chocolate covered biscuit stick (various shapes/flavours and sizes) to their friends/teachers etc etc. It is a little similar to Valentines Day but has no meaning and if anyone tells you otherwise they are lying. It is a marketing tool. The actual biscuit is not particular tasty, more bland really, but most snacks, toffees and chocolates in my opinion here are seldom flavoursome.

The whole thing is hard to avoid as you find most 24hour convenience stores with displays outside showing their Pepero and stickers plastered all over their windows too. Essentially you are paying for the packaging. The boxes are VERY light and pretty empty. But by and large are pretty cheap so everyone can afford to buy some if they so wish. Most of the boxes have English on them but have slightly exaggerated expressions such as "I ♥ you", "You have all of my Heart", "You make me so happy". When receiving things like this I must admit to feeling a little uncomfortable even though it is meaningless and probably should say "My mother made me give you this".

It IS easy to be cynical about many things here but this is pretty harmless and the students seem to enjoy the whole process and it is relatively inexpensive. This year I got far more than I expected and I also cannot deny that it is nice to receive any gift that a student gives but it's total fluff and Über Asian.

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