Viral Cartoon Asks Korea, “Are We Allowed to be Happy?”

A popular cartoonist has captured the anti-“are you okay?” movement and the voice of modern young conservatives in South Korea. In response to the popular claims that Korea has been taken over by another dictatorship that crushes dissent and threatens to destroy the country, conservatives emphasize Korea’s prosperity and historic stability.

In recent weeks, the two competing narratives about modern Korea have led to angry poster campaigns, street protests, and a suicide by immolation in the center of Seoul.

From Toonburi:
Comments from Toonburi:

This is so right. High school and college students are busy doing homework, watching TV shows, playing games and hanging out with friends. They don’t know anything. They just retweet or press the ‘Like’ button for some articles on social media and that’s how they learn politics and modern history. Although they don’t know much, they want to feel a sense of belonging and exhibit mob psychology. If they learn the truth later, they will regret their stupid life and ideas.


I didn’t like you before but your political awareness is mature. I support you. I dislike the leftists who can never be satisfied.

Jae Hwan Jung:

You are right. Nobody should impose rage on other people. If you feel happy, you should be able to say that you are happy. If you feel something is wrong, you should be able to say it, too. The people who insist on “not being okay” might feel the same discomfort you felt when they see this webtoon. That would only be natural. Let’s respect different thoughts. I respect your idea but I do not feel okay.


Voted up 50,000 times


It’s been a long time since there was such a sensible webtoon


This webtoon tells you that there are still many people who worry about safety and food in the world and since we aren’t enjoying this affluent life for free, we should be grateful for what we have. Why do some people think he’s saying we only need to care about ourselves?

Jp Koo:

I have no family, no girlfriend, no house and often skip meals but I still agree with the webtoon and I’m grateful for my life. I don’t understand why some people who enjoy good meals with good standards of living are trying to find social problems for fun. Those lefty commies who oppose this webtoon’s idea and deny the last presidential election should try living with me for just one day. They won’t endure it. Lefty commies aren’t experiencing rage, frustrations and injustice in their own life. They try to find it through the computer monitor. That’s pitiful.

Cy Lee:

Before worrying about national matters, students should study hard and think of their parents. Instead, some of them are wasting time putting up posters and protesting… I can see their future… Older people who support them are even more pitiful..

Sanghyun Park:

That’s exactly how I feel.


There are many ignorant people;; Why do you think the webtoon is promoting selfishness? It is attacking those who suffer from victim complex even though they can find happiness and truth around themselves. I just want to ask this. Those who were making a ruckus on streets because of mad cow disease, do you have even the slightest regret or shame?

The cartoonist responded to netizens with another webtoon.
From Toonburi:

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  • Joey

    Yay for mediocrity

  • Doug

    The cartoon just about sums it all up so well. Koreans are one of the most unhappiest bunch of people I’ve ever known, and yet they don’t even realize how much more lucky they are compared to so many in the world. It’s no wonder, when there are so many with microphones and candle lights singing and chanting how horrible a place it is.

    • jon777

      They’re unhappy for a reason, their country has major problems and great social injusticies. Material wealth is irrelevant when it comes to happiness, also a countries wealth is irrelevant to an individual unless they can access it.

      • David

        Only a person who has never been hungry would say material wealth is not irrelevant when it comes to happiness. I grew up very poor (like will I eat today poor) and achieved a certain amount of financial success before retiring (not rich but comfortable). While being wealthy in and of itself will not guarantee happiness, being poor certainly can make you miserable. You want a certain amount of wealth to take care of your needs, those of your family and if you have some extra to help a few others it certainly will make you happy. Wealth allows you the best available education for your children, it allows you access to the best medical care, it allows you to eat more than just enough to stay alive, it allows you to buy a nice home that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So many other things that I could say but I think my opinion is clear.

        • jon777

          Wealth is not the same as having enough to not suffer. Your argument is invalid.

          • David

            No, you just do not understand it. There is a difference.

          • jon777

            Yes, understanding is exactly what I do.

      • Senate

        lol.Social injustices.Maybe u haven’t heard of GITMO .

        • jon777

          Maybe you haven’t heard of staying on topic.

          • Euro

            You cannot reason with a racist.

  • Ruaraidh

    Not really addressing the concerns of the other side. Just saying, ‘Korea isn’t as bad as it was/could be, don’t complain.’ An argument with Chinese characteristics.

    • David

      In general, as a country, it is head and shoulders above what it was like when I first went there in 1985.

      • Ruaraidh

        That’s not the point. The argument made invites the attitude: ‘It could be worse, so why bother trying to make it better.’ A nonsense of course, but one that people seem to easily fall into.

        I’m a disinterested party here and don’t know enough to say which side is right, but the argument presented in the comic above was sloppy.

        • David

          Fair enough. I think the cartoonists point was that he is tired of being told how to feel. That in his opinion most Koreans are doing OK and that he simply wants a break from the constant bombardment by activists telling him how bad his life is so he will be mobilized to help them. Life does not always need to be a struggle, sometimes you must pause and actually enjoy what you have (however little it is). I suspect YOU already know that, but it is something this cartoonist feels those in Korea do not appreciate enough (and he is probably right in this regard). In Korea, from cradle to grave people are driven to do better, earn more money, move up in society and this leaves such little time to enjoy any life.

    • lasolitaria

      The Poster Movement’s argument isn’t “We’re
      doing well but might do better” but “We’re not doing well”, so an answer
      like “Actually, we are”, which is the comic’s message in a nutshell, is
      a valid way to address it. Truth is, South Korea is so far doing pretty
      well. South Koreans do way better than they did only three decades ago and they do better than most countries do now. In some regards they do better than a few, often wealthier
      countries do in those same regards. In the scale of “doing well”, from the extremely low standard of some countries to the very high standard of others,
      they’re placed closer to the top than to the middle. The problem is that for the discontent South Korean youth it’s not enough that the country does well: it has to do well in a way that caters to their progressive sensitivities.

  • jon777

    This is a logical fallacy called “fallacy of relative privation” or more commonly: “there are starving children in Africa so suck it up and stop complaining”. A common fallacy, but stupid. Anyone who use this silly argument should remember that the next time they have any kind of problem.

    “Oh? You’re getting raped? Well, at least you’re not getting gang raped! Be happy!”

    • Dominic ‘Dom’ Dinkins

      Actually it could be a good way to look at things sometimes. When you are faced with a problem such as “OMG i have to make 20 lesson plans by the end of the week for winter camp” and compare it to someone who won’t even find food for the day, it enables you to tackle the problem from a less stressful perspective.

      Also, your last example was a very poor one.

      • jon777

        Appreciating what you have is one thing, but ignoring or trivalizing problems because there are worse things is what we’re talking about here.

        It was accurate.

        • Dominic ‘Dom’ Dinkins

          I don’t think the cartoonist was conveying that at all. I think what he was saying is that while yes we shouldn’t ignore problems in our own countries, trying to make someone feel bad because they aren’t “mad enough” or participating enough in demonstrations about social injustices and whatnot is stupid.

          And a lot of times, people do these things to give themselves a sense of moral superiority to others who are not also doing the same things. It’s the same thing religion does in a sense. In order to make yourself feel morally superior, you must make yourself suffer, or chastise yourself for actually enjoying the good life you are fortunate to have.

          It’s almost a sense of guilt that so many people have nowadays.

          • jon777

            Sure he was, he’s just not aware of it. He’s the kind of guy that would sit and watch while nazis round up the jews.

          • MintyBadger

            “They’re probably taking them on a field trip…try to be more optimistic and self-involved.”

          • MintyBadger

            I think this issue of “guilt” is about as fictional as all the posts on Reddit of Canadians telling everyone how polite they are. Humans are, by nature, selfish as hell. I doubt many people feel any guilt at all and are just completely absorbed by their own issues, drudgery, and hang-ups. If anything, people mostly suffer from a sociopathic complete lack of guilt, which is why all these things they SHOULD feel guilty about continue unabated.

      • MintyBadger

        How about this: “At least the plutocrats backing the dictatorship in South Korea have the good taste to create a sham of democracy, instead of an outright dictatorship with prison camps.”

  • Bryan Cheron

    *applause* to the person who made those webtoons and to the person (people?) who translated and posted it here. Very well done.

    • GJM


      • GJM

        These cartoons are incredibly ignorant and petty minded — and like most issues here in Korea, simplistically polarising ( so called ) ‘left’ and ‘right’. All the say is, “I’m alright, I can enjoy all the high tech pleasure of life, the jeans, the selfies, the tech-toys, the cars, and it isn’t as bad as living in Gaza or Baghdad, so….SMILE KOREA, and if you don’t laugh and cheer, and grin stupidly, you are a whiner who just go and die…. and you must be some kind of lefty commie too….”
        What are you lot so impressed by? It is a reductionist and stupid cartoon, that overlooks the very real reasons that many Koreans are not happy with life, and indeed, many in the rest of the world are not happy.

  • chucky3176

    Reminds me of the recent show of one North Korean defector woman on a TV show. She recalled a time when one of her South Korean friends looked so sad and worried. She asked her what was the matter, and the South Korean woman said “I’m so worried and sad that my child in the US (foreign student studying in US college) can only eat instant noodles for dinner”. The North Korean woman thought to herself, this is something to worry about? What a happy problem it must be to worry about such a trivial thing, I wish I had that kind of problems to deal with. The North Korean woman left her entire family in the North where they are starving to death and fearing for their lives.

    But typically speaking, South Koreans always think the grass is greener on the other side, including North Korea ( a dozen or so South Koreans were caught trying to sneak into North Korea this year). The UNDP puts South Korea’s Human Development Index at 12th place, so it’s not exactly as if South Korea is a horrible place to live. The reason why it may seem horrible to some is that Koreans make it a horrible place. Koreans should ease up from competing so hard for everything, lighten up, get some sense humour, don’t try to always compare to others and follow what everyone else is doing, don’t worry too hard about what other people think, and enjoy life for what it is, instead of focusing strictly on material gains and trying to keep up the appearance that you can’t live up to.

    • chucky3176

      And also Koreans stop trying to congregate and live around Seoul would be also beneficial. It’s just crazy that half the population of South Korea lives in Seoul Metro area, with that many people in such a small geographical area, it’s no wonder why people are angry and crass. They’re all competing for the same limited resources.

    • jon777

      “Competing so hard for everything” mostly comes from economic circumstances. Korea needs welfare and strong unions. That is the only thing that will change Korea for the better.

      • Chucky3176

        Listen chum, Korea has the strongest union in Asia by far… and probably the entire world, if you measure it in terms of their militancy, demands, and number of members. It’s the unions who are against labor reform that’s driving away foreign investment, and it’s the unions who are forcing companies to hire temp workers (instead of higher paying full time workers) because they are dead set against allowing companies to lay off workers without outrageous welfare payments to laid off workers.

        South Korea’s welfare payments budget keeps going up and up. I don’t see any happier people, instead it’s more miserable people according to the latest polls which says South Korea comes last in the world in happiness. But I do agree with you that South Korea should increase welfare for the elderly, just not for the young and healthy who can work if they want to. There are millions of jobs that are going begging, but they can’t find workers because little Cheolsu with a useless BA degree from Hongdae, thinks he’s too good to be working in a small company making engine parts for Kia Motors. Instead those jobs are going to foreigners from SEA who would give their right arms to live and work in South Korea. People like little Cheolsu don’t even remember how their parents made South Korea what it is today, by working with their hands and not being afraid to get their hands dirty.

        • jon777

          Little Cheolsu doesn’t want the job because the work environment is crap and the pay is crap and the future for the person having such a job is also crap even though the company have more than enough money to improve all of those things. SE asians don’t mind working in a crappy environment because their countries are even worse. But that’s irrelevant.

          Strongest in Asia means nothing. They’re still weak and oppressed, much thanks to the extreme right wing fascists that have ruled SK for the past 60 years with the equally fascist America patting them on the back. Don’t delude yourself, Korean unions are nothing compared to what you have in Europe, where by the way, they get a lot of foreign investments. Which is really strange, huh? You’d think they’d explode by now with all those unions and up to 90% of the work force being a member of a union.

          Also, paying for laid off workers up to six months after firing the worker has worked very well wherever it has been tried. Greed stands in the way for a better Korea, only greed.

          • chucky3176

            “Also, paying for laid off workers up to six months after firing the worker has worked very well wherever it has been tried. ”

            What makes you think that South Korea doesn’t have unemployment insurance? This tells me right there, how little you know about Korea.

            S.Korea needs a major labor reform, but the unions are dead set against it. The Korean companies need to be allowed to reward workers according to performances, but the unions are against eliminating the archaic labor code which forces companies to pay wage increases to seniority employees, even if they don’t perform up to standards. Nor can the companies are allowed to fire them without companies having to go through hoops to show that this worker was negligent – which makes impossible to lay off workers when financial statements dictates that this is required. In effect, what the trade unions are and have been getting are guaranteed employment for life, subsidized by Korean government and tax payers. I know of no place even in heavily socialist Europe where you are prevented by law from laying off excess workers. What does this do? It makes companies fearful of hiring more permanent workers because of higher costs of hiring, Instead they rely on temporary lower paid workers who have no similar rights as the unionized permanent workers. And with low turnover rates in the companies, the young workers are the ones also being left out of getting new jobs, since unions don’t want to share jobs.

            When you have 85%of people going to college, and looking for the same white collar jobs, there’s just simply too many college graduates in Korea. It’s really not surprising why youth unemployment is so high, they all want a desk job, even when being a well paid welder for Hyundai Ulsan ship yard whose average workers are over the age of 45 and older (and rapidly getting older), will pay three times the wage of an office man/woman, but still can’t find a young worker whose willing to get his hands dirty learning welding.

          • bigmamat

            Korea is in great danger of creating the same situation that we now find ourselves in here in the U.S. The destruction of their middle class. Slavish devotion to American free market principles will end in the same result and it won’t take a long. If Korea can drag itself out of poverty in 30 years it isn’t a delusion to think that it can drive itself right back in even less time.

    • lesrallies

      Potential defectors are rigorously screened and trained for ‘interviews’

  • Doge Wallace

    I would love to see a similar cartoon for English teachers in Korea who also complain, complain, complain.

    • MintyBadger

      You know who complains about Korea even more than foreigners? Koreans. I think this cartoon is for them.

      • Doge Wallace

        Captain Obvious to the rescue.

        • MintyBadger

          Captain Early Morning Dick-Move to the Second Supercilious Comment. Blow me.

          • Doge Wallace

            Whip it out.

          • MintyBadger

            I like where this is going. Giggity-giggity goo!

  • bigmamat

    Korea is no different than any other industrialized country right now. Slavish devotion to unfettered free market ideology is destroying our children’s future. You cannot have 90% of the world’s wealth in the hands of 0.1% of the population without civil unrest. Governments need to wake up to the fact that they are pushing their people to the brink. Wouldn’t it be nice if history didn’t keep repeating itself.

    • chucky3176

      You really think Korea has “free market”? Really? For instance, in Korea, by law, if you’re a big retailer, you cannot open on certain days because the big retailers are supposedly killing the mom and pop stores. I know of no place in Americas or Europe, where such anti-competitive laws are enforced. No, what’s needed in Korea is more free market, not more stupid regulations that does more harm then good.

      • bigmamat

        Thank god the Korean government has enough sense to realize that “mom and pop” need to be protected from Walmart or Lotte or whatever big conglomerate you have going over there. When we destroyed the ability for mom and pop stores to survive we didn’t increase competition we decimated it. Along with the the life’s blood of this country. I guess you haven’t been keeping up on current events across the pond but the U.S. is in crisis. It really only took us 40 years to get here. How long do you think it will take Korea to get to this point if they travel the same path?

        I’m not against capitalism, I’m an American and I’m sold on it. Just not your brand of capitalism. You refuse to see that everything needs moderation, and nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever free. Free from consequences or free from manipulation. So now perhaps you understand that I am for capitalism but not unregulated, unfettered capitalism. You would argue ah…but we don’t have unregulated capitalism, you’d be right, we don’t. I agree. What we don’t agree about is what we should regulate. Who we should regulate. Where, how and when we should regulate capitalism.

        I think we should regulate capitalism to benefit the most people. I think it is incumbent upon the governments of our respective countries to do that for us. Wanna know why? Because while I believe in capitalism as an economic structure I believe in democracy as a government. In the U.S. we decided a long time ago to structure our government so that it provided justice, tranquility, defense and general welfare of the governed. We have got to regulate capitalism so that it benefits the most people. We aren’t doing that anymore.

      • jon777

        Hey, you almost get it. Free market also means not oppressing and harassing workers who join forces and refuse to work unless they get a higher salary and better working conditions.

        • bigmamat

          What do you mean almost get it? I didn’t even mention what I thought of unions, but I will. You see people like chucky take for granted the rights they already enjoy. They go about their lives choosing to forget that someone else already sacrificed and paid the price for what he takes for granted. Like I said in my earlier post nothing is ever free. People in previous generations sacrificed their lives for the right to share in the profits of their labor and do it with dignity. Those previous generations weren’t looking for hand outs, and neither is this one. People aren’t trying to get something for nothing. You are absolutely right. A true capitalist wouldn’t give away his time and sweat for free. You see people like chuck don’t really see “workers” as part of the system. Workers are like assets, resources, consumables.Things to be used to generate capital for the corporation, abandoned when no longer useful, tossed away when used up, utilized. This mindset serves the system. Corporate entities that outlive even their founders and their original purpose are constructs of man not the other way around. Systems that become the wheel that grinds the people rather than the people turning the wheel. So yes, this is what I meant when I said I disagreed with his brand of capitalism. Man invented capitalism. Man has the right and the duty to control it for his benefit. So yes, I think strong unions are necessary for the system to function as it was intended, to serve the people.

          • jon777

            Uh, well, yes.. but I didn’t reply to you so I’m not sure why you’re telling me all this.

          • bigmamat

            Oh sorry…but chucky doesn’t even almost get it…he’s extremely hostile to unions…

          • jon777

            That’s because he’s not actually a capialist who believes in the free market, but a fascist who believes that big business should rule.

            A true capitalist would have nothing against unions since they are voluntary and a part of the market.

          • bigmamat

            I agree….he’s been paying way too much attention to all the American propaganda. Since I’m only an observer of S.Korea and it’s politics it’s not easy for me to wrap my mind around how so many Koreans I encounter here on the internet became so dogmatic in their free market ideas. I can sort of understand how many white Americans end up voting against their own best interests. The Republicans have been using old racial prejudices to sway them for about as long as they’ve been driving income upward with their economic policies. Certainly Korea doesn’t have the same social wedge issues, like immigration, gay marriage and abortion that are used to distract the country during election cycles like we have in the U.S. Although you do seem to have a pretty polarized political climate not unlike ours, two parties with completely different agendas and little or no third option.

          • nana

            S. Korea was the weaker Korea for decades and the dictatorship relied on draconian anti-left wing laws and propaganda. Koreans are also deluded into thinking their ‘work’ is what caused their develoopment, completely neglecting to think of the context and assistance given in a cold war context.

        • nana

          No, free market means the compnay can buy off the government or hire paramilitary forces to crush the people. Organization is socialist dont ya know

      • One for all

        In the UK stores and business bigger than a certain size cannot open before 11am (maybe 12pm, can’t really remember) on Sundays…this is to help the smaller stores

      • nana

        You’re right, Korea is a monopoly chaeobol system. The state built up the country with American assistance into large enterprises to compete on the foreign market, but it has warped the economy. The free market principles now will destroy the middle class and see all employment move to China or N. Korea. Being a miser to attract foreign investment never works in the long term–look at Ireland and Mexico.

        • bigmamat

          Why should they stay in Korea if they can’t pay slave wages, pollute the environment with impunity and keep as much profit as possible. Koreans better be wary of any other trade agreement they decide to buy into as well.

  • Chucky3176

    Here’s part of my plan to revitalize South Korea policies. This is not all, just a partial list of things that I thought of. As you will see, I’m no fanatical conservative who want everything free of regulation (as some here think). I consider myself a centralist, maybe slightly leaning to the right but not too much. My policies are a mixture of raising of taxes, cuts to tax spending, and collecting where it’s due. Read it, and let me know what you think, would you vote for me if I was running for the President of South Korea? Click thumbs up if you vote yes.

    1) Health and Welfare

    Increase support for parents who have babies and young children. Institute universal day care, and increase monthly payments for families with children. Drastically increase welfare payments for the aged 60 and over whose income is below the threshold. More support and living facilities should be created for elderly peoples. Contributions to national pension programs should increase by 2 times. No welfare payments to pregnant teens, but sex education in schools should be mandatory and more widely available. Health care coverages should go up to 80% coverage from the current 60%, as well as the contributions to health insurance premiums. Abortions should stay illegal and any doctors performing non-essential abortions should be strictly punished and should have their medical licenses revoked.

    2) Taxes

    Income taxes need to increase to at least 25% of the income from the current average of 15%. Everyone should pay their fair share, including the lower income families. When it comes to tax paying and tax collection rate, South Korea resembles Greece – this is a disgrace, unacceptable, and not sustainable. Currently 50% of all lower income households do not pay any income taxes because they are effectively tax exempt. That has to stop. Rich people also need to pay up with much stiffer punishments to those who dodge taxes through illegal means. This should include confiscation of 100% of wealth as well as 10 year jail time. There should be much more vigorous attempts by the government to collect due taxes, with much more auditing, and bring the tax collection rate to at least 90% by the year 2020. Corporation taxes should also increase, they should also pay their fair share. Increase to welfare costs mean that there has to be more contributions made by everyone. Thirty five percent of South Korean economy is invisible underground economy with cash transactions where no taxes are paid. This is a potential 35% of the entire GDP of South Korea being hidden where a huge bonanza of tax revenue are being lost annually. There should be systematic policies to reduce this percentage to at least 15% by 2020.

    3) Privatization of State Assets

    There should be some privatization of state companies, but not all.
    The Korean Electric Company should be privatized. It’s ludicrous that raw materials for energy has gone up so much, yet costs of electricity remain the same. This is a market distortion caused by government subsidization of a state company. Cheap electricity means that conservation of energy is lacking in Korean people’s behaviour. Higher energy costs caused by higher material costs (which is the real market forces), may bring some short term pain, but Korea cannot forever guarantee cheap energy funded through tax payer money. The Incheon International Airport should be allowed to be listed on the stock market. This does not mean it’s going to be privatized. It’s ludicrous of anti-privatization people to claim that this is same as privatization. By being listed on the stock market, they are raising private funds, instead of depending on government and tax payers. This should reduce the tax burden further.

    4) Worker Rights and Employment

    Government should recognize that one of the greatest factors contributing to Korean people’s unhappiness is the poor work/life imbalance. Too many working hours yet low productivity is the cause of unhealthy domestic economy. For this, the government should pass a new sweeping employment law to protect workers rights. All vacation times and vacation pay shall be mandatory for employers. For hourly workers, an overtime pay shall be mandatory. Also, all employees must take mandatory minimum vacation time of two weeks per one year, required by law, regardless whether they feel they need it or not. Employment laws should be strictly regulated and fines and punishments for those employers who try to cheat the system should be severely punished. Sweeping labor reforms should be in place by now. All businesses and companies should have the right to terminate their employees as long as the reasons are met in the new government set guidelines, this should also include lay offs due to businesses suffering financial losses. All workers should be guaranteed the right to organize and join trade unions. The unions should be guaranteed the right to strike without government harassments or police actions only on one condition. All strike actions shall be non-violent, peaceful, and there should be no destructive behaviour against properties belonging to the businesses. Any violent illegal destructive behaviours will be met by strict jail sentences for public violence.

    5) Education

    South Korea has too many universities as number of students continue to rapidly shrink. Universities which are tier 4 and tier 3 schools should be all closed, and government funds and subsidies should be withdrawn. More emphasis should be placed on high school apprenticeship programs like that of Switzerland and Germany where there’s much more emphasis on skills and trades, over theory in classrooms. Much should be studied and learned from those two countries that have successfully transformed their economies by valuing practical industrial skills. The government should set up a special program where SME companies participate running and supporting school of applied arts and skills trade. Students from such schools could be hired by the same companies right after their graduations. Government should spend more money in educating the Korean public about the effectiveness of self-study, over obsessively attending after school private institutes. A vast majority of Korean students who succeeded in getting into SNU or Yonsei, did it by knowing how to study on their own effectively, loved learning, and by balancing life/study. They didn’t get there by studying 20 hours a day until they burn out. This is one of the greatest false misguided beliefs that have hurt the Korean people causing so much grief and pain, and it’s time people should be encouraged to change their behaviour. Korean parents should also be educated through government programs about how to properly raise children through life/study balance, and support centers should be created to handle teen aged students who need counselling and help.

    • chucky for pres

      • Chucky3176

        Hey I’m being serious here. You didn’t even read it. It only took you 2 min to reply. Let me know what you really think.

        • agentS

          I think SOME of your ideas are sound. Others I found to be a bit lacking.
          The “Taxes” thing- a lot of people in Korea are making close to minimum wage. 880K a month, or such, I think. From what I’ve heard, that’s barely enough to make rent and eat. If you tax them at an arbitrary 25%, they’re not going to make enough for rent and such.
          Dealing with the underground econ is a good idea but you don’t exactly say how.
          The Workers’ Rights thing; There is some momentum in this field already in motion, so you’re not on an ‘uphill climb’. But you’ll need a huge regulatory commission to pull this off. Plus you’ll need to get the Unions and Management to learn how to settle issues without strikes or threats to move to China.
          The Privatization thing: Considering how problematic corporations are, do you really think the people are better off with them in charge of vital services like electricity production? Your “screed” fails to take into account where the energy is mostly spent and who spends it (large factories, etc)- but some of your other solutions may lower energy usage a bit. Look at the US- we deregulated the airlines and now they suck. Japan privatized the trains and now they’re (allegedly- I only paid for the rail pass) too expensive for most people.

          • chucky3176

            “If you tax them at an arbitrary 25%,”

            Hey I’m not advocating a flat tax. I’m advocating all people rich and poor paying their fair portion of their taxes. When I say bring up the average tax rate to 25%, I mean we have to increase the rates all across the board to achieve that average. South Korea’s income tax rate average is the lowest in the OECD. If South Koreans want more welfare then everyone has to chip in, nothing comes for free. This is what we call income redistribution (unlike income creation). Earning minimum wage should not be an excuse to pay zero tax, your income should still be taxable at reasonable but lower rates depended on level of income. The higher the income, the higher the rate should be. Tax evasions in South Korea is rampant, there has to be a permanent crackdown on evaders. That includes the shady underground economy – especially the industries in construction, restaurants, hostess bars, room salons, dance clubs, hair salons, retail stores, and other service industries where cash is king. Factories that hire illegal workers and pay them under the table are also underground economy, they should be punished as well. Prostitution should be legalized in red light districts and then tax them accordingly. Loan sharking and other small private lending institutions should be investigated hard and they should be prevented from charging outrageous interest rates to victimize borrowers. A new bill should also pass protecting consumers against loansharks who prey on the weak. I could never understand why these loansharks run by mafias are allowed to exist in the first place. All these are new regulations are nothing earth shatteringly radical. They are basic rule of laws. There should be a multiple creation of new government offices to enforce all these rules and regulations, which should mean creation of tens of thousands of more government jobs.

          • sambo

            Chuck has a very odd set of political objectives, He seems to think that health care and welfare are good things for those in need. Yet he wants to create huge new taxes on the underemployed, raise standard of living costs drastically and take away welfare for “pregnant teens” (which would drive up demand for abortions) and then make abortions highly illegal. Massive new financial demands on the poor/working poor wouldn’t go down well methinks. It seems like he wants to knock down every socioeconomic class down by a few pegs. The poor and working poor would become destitute in chucky’s odd little dream country. Those are the kinds of new policies that revolutions are made out of.

            Chucky also seems very interested in “severe” punishment for whosoever dares to break his laws and create “tens of thousands” of government regulatory jobs. Dear lord, chucky want to kill off the illegal “mob” and replace it by one that’s government sanctioned.

            Chucky has seemingly defied the entire concept of “left and right” politics and has made his own direction by combining opposing tenants of said political groups, he calls his new direction “leftachuckaright”

      • linette lee

        Imagine Chucky running for president in South Korea. China, Japan, and Korea will go to war.

    • commander

      As for the privatization

      electricity, water and railway services tend to be inevitably monopolized naturally. This means privatization in response to government failures like chronic deficits could also result into market failures like surged service fees.

      Additionally some countries which already executed such a privatization do not get a high grade for performance of those privatized firms, raising the question over whether privatization can be a cure all to present deficit problems.

      With reference to legally guaranted and strigently enforced paid vacation for Korean workers, who are burned out by longest working hours, it seems to sound great. I am all for it.

      But there are still formidable challenges in reality for tht bold proposal.

      Paid leave guranatee and right to protest is the last thing the Korean conglomerates that have dominated the Korean economy and wielded devisive influence on economic policy making want.

      In addition to anticipated vehement opposition from coporate behmoths, some firms would find it hard to fulfill legal requirements for its employees for financial reasons.

      Except for these two point, I am on the same page with you on other points.

    • Brett

      I like your ideas chucky. I agree with many of them. I did want to point out however, that there is no “middle-leaning” party or party follower, for Korea only has the far-right and the extremely-too-far-right. You are definitely conservative, but your ideas are for the betterment of the people and Korea’s economy. Cheers

  • lesrallizes

    South Korea’s suicide rate highest in the OECD, much higher than it ever was before, 45% of the elderly live in poverty. The much higher cost of living voids any increase in salary. The only people who benefit are the privileged classes, who are able to extract even more money through privatization of public institutions such as transportation and medical care. Of course the conservatives want to maintain and increase their advantage through simplistic cartoons, because they lack a higher grade of thinking and spirit, and don’t consider other Koreans either in the South or the North as human beings.

    • chucky3176

      “The only people who benefit are the privileged classes, who are able to extract even more money through privatization of public institutions such as transportation and medical care”

      Like when did this happen? As far as I know, it hasn’t even happened yet, yet you’re so sure that’s what’s causing the rich people to get richer. Hmm…

  • One for all

    lol….the fact remains that debt is now the number 1 factor plaguing Korea. That is what is making people unhappy. Those that are yet to acquire debt know they will have to in the future…those that have acquired debt know they will most likely never be able to pay it off.

    -The elderly are offing themselves due to being heavily in debt (to secure futures for their offspring)

    -The young cannot find decent paying jobs and yet expect their parents to continue funding their sex n the city lifestyle…while mounting on credit cards themselves

    -Small businesses are going bust on a daily basis, prompting their owners to take on more debt to keep operating

    -People are reluctant to get married and start families because of the expected amount of money they are supposed to spend (from taking on debt) to show their status

    I challenge anyone to walk into any apartment block in Korea and find 10 residents that are not saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt

    • chucky3176

      “I challenge anyone to walk into any apartment block in Korea and find 10 residents that are not saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt”.

      I challenge anyone in the west who don’t have a huge mortgage and at least one car payment. At least in Korea, you are required to pay a huge downpayment before you can even start to borrow from the banks.

      What drives Koreans to death are two things, housing and overspending on education. Solve those problems, and the debt problem goes away. The housing market seems to have hit bottom, and seems to be bouncing back. The overspending on education seems to be the more deeply rooted chronic problem. Only a deep cultural change can solve rest of the problems.

      There’s nothing a system can do to help people if they’re convinced that spending all their money to keep up the appearance is a priority.

      • One for all

        The west is currently in the hangover stage from its credit binge, and will continue to recover some time….probably over a few years

        Korea is still in the process of hardcore credit binge, and is starting to feel the onset of effects…it’s only a matter of time before the bubble bursts and shit hits the fan.

        • chucky3176

          Please read many economists. Household debt is a bad problem that will continue to depress the domestic economy, but most economists agree there will be no bubble to burst or shit that hits the fan. Simply because Korean banks are in much better shape now with much stricter lending requirements, than the American banks had when the sub prime mortgage hit.

          Besides, Korea’s household debt problem will go away if and when the real estate market comes back (and we’re already seeing the prices starting to rise again). Many people are highly leveraged because they had to borrow to keep their houses. But if house prices rise, with economic recovery in US and EU leading to stronger Korean economy, the household debt problem will deflate.

          • One for all

            People never think the bubble will burst until it actually does.

            Korean banks have strict lending requirements, but financial arms of companies like Samsung, Hyundai and LG don’t. They get loans from the banks on behalf of people that wouldn’t usually qualify and pile on the interest.

            Don’t believe me? Ask your Korean pals how easy it is to get a Hyundai credit card…or loan from Samsung.

            Here is some recent news, this is just a small snippet of what’s to come:

            Korea has tasted the high life, and is thoroughly enjoying it. It would be very difficult to go back to frugal spending and saving your wages….right now the only way forward for many is to continue borrowing borrowing borrowing.

            Does that sound familiar?

          • Chucky3176

            Sounds familiar. But already, sales of foreign cars are not growing as fast as they used to a year ago. I beg to differ that Koreans can’t go back to saving. South Korea is still not a heavy consumer items purchase society like the US or even the EU. The article is alarmist in itself, in my opinion. Those “car poor” represent a few thousand people out of millions. As usual, Korea Times blow up figures and make it sound far worse than it really is.

          • One for all

            Korea is now a heavy consumer items purchase exactly like the US and Europe. Koreans have the most credit cards per capita in the world…credit cards don’t pay themselves off.

            Luxury department stores and complexes aren’t just in Seoul anymore, they are springing up in the countryside and people are going to them.

            Go into the average Korean home today and you’ll it’s not very different (in terms of consumer items) to the average European or American home.

            Koreans now travel in large numbers and make up significant numbers of the tourists in SE Asia.

            Let’s not forget the government implemented the happiness fund only last year. There aren’t enough jobs as it is and of the jobs available, most don’t pay enough for the average Korean to maintain his/her current lifestyle.

            Korea’s GDP to debt ratio is only 36% at the moment, but it is gradually increasing and is set to balloon in the near future if things continue going the way they are.

            Also, Korea’s household debt to disposable income reached 160% last year….America’s was 130% in 2007 at the start of the recession.

            Korea has reached the point of no return. The moment one of the major Chaebols catches a cold, the first sneeze will send whole system crashing down

      • nana

        That’s right,chuck, all first world people are indebted now, a testamment to the bankruptcy of the market. The only thing the market cares about is rate of return. That began tanking in the 70s, so living standards had to be slashed, debt keeping the system going. Now the debt’s tapped out. I wasn’t aware that korea was so far down this path, but I guess it’s back to sweat shops for them to ‘compete’ with samsung’s china-based plants.

    • jsussixfer

      Do students in your country typically have student loan debt?

      • One for all

        Yes, students in my country do have student loan debt.

        The debt is owed to the government and the cost of tertiary education is partially covered by the government as well, on average 60% of the actual cost per student.

        Up until 1996, tertiary education was free for all, now students pay on average £6000-9000 per year on tuition, mostly through loans from the government.

        Repayment terms are pretty relaxed at the moment. One is not obligated to repay anything until a minimum earning threshold is reached. On average 5-10% of the monthly paycheck is deducted to repay the loan. Any remainder of the loan after 25 years of payment will be written off.

        If one continuously earns below the minimum threshold for a period of 15 years, the entire loan will be written off.

        • jsussixfer

          No private student loans in S. Korea?

  • bumfromkorea

    What an inane response full of fallacies. Even ignoring the glaringly obvious fallacy of “Why are you so miserable? There are starving kids in Africa.”, this cartoon forcibly simplifies all the discontent presented by the Poster Movement into economic, survivalist factors, and then clumsily re-applies the “it could be worse” argument.

    NIS ran psyops against the people! – At least you’re not starving.

    PGH broke her campaign promises! – At least you’re not living in a warzone.

    Railroads shouldn’t be privatized! – At least you get to go to public schools.

    The youth unemployment rate is atrocious! – At least you live in a first world nation.

    The labor rights are being violated! – At least you’re not working in a sweatshop.

    It’s an evolved version of the 70’s/80’s arguments ran by the dictatorships. There’s [something wrong with South Korea] that needs to be fixed! – Hey, at least you’re not being shot at by North Koreans.

    To put it simply, it’s a 궤변. As expected out of the modern Korean conservative crowds…

    • KCdude

      This kind of argument usually comes from countries with very authoritarian attitudes towards the public. For example, from communist countries. What I learned in a Canadian secondary school about communist countries is showing up in Korea. Is this Asian country a free democracy like we understand? Korea, AKA the South, is to me a dangerous communist country just like the the Korea with a crazy 3rd generation dictator. But you are encouraged to disagree with me.

    • HaydenG

      Korea just became a democracy 2 decades ago. Its doing fine. just needs some time
      also. yay for economic ignorance

      • KCdude

        There is no (or very weak) democracy in Korea! – At least you’re not living in a single party state.

        • A Pinky Promise

          This cartoonist is the guy who got sued by SM for sexually harassing Girl’s Generation.
          He also said numerous bullshits like “Japanese are the most kind and honest, whereas Koreans are a bunch of liars” blah blah
          He eventually got fired from his company and now uploads his works on his “private” blog.

    • chucky3176

      Your argument is also fallacy. I’ll tell you why. In the 1980’s and 1970’s, all that you talk about, the “lack of democracy and rights and dictatorship”, it was MUCH MUCH WORSE. Yet Koreans weren’t nearly as miserable as they are today. If your theory is right, that supposed lack of freedom and democracy is the factor of happiness, then why do many older Koreans who lived through 1970’s and 1980’s say that they were so much happier back then, despite the poverty, the lack of freedom, and lack of democracy? I mean the KCIA were jailing people for political beliefs and torturing them (something unimaginable today). The female fetus abortions were rampant with seriously bad sex imbalances. The national infant mortality rate was 20 deaths per 1000 born, worse than Indonesia. Sure there was more income equality back then – everyone was poor (so I guess there were less complaints about being left behind). Most people heated their homes with coal briquttes with heat going under the floors, most of the toilets were squats and people used newspapers as toilet papers. And you were lucky to get a factory job getting paid minimum wage. Labor rights? Unions? National pensions? Universal healthcare? All unheard of and most people never even dared to dream of. YET… people back then were happier, and eager to live the life. Suicide rates were much lower despite the grinding poverty and failures of businesses (especially during the energy crisis of the 1973 and 1980). Small business owners? They were fucking lucky to get any kind of loan, if they got it, they were required to pay 30% interest. Because all the precious money that Korean had little, were directed to the Chaebols. Despite all this, despite the far far worse inequality… how is it that Koreans back then were much happier than the people today?

      Could it be it’s because it’s all relative? Koreans have never been such better off in the entire history of Korea, yet we’re going backwards and more and more Koreans are becoming angry and unhappy. Why is that? Because the expectations have become much higher. And the competition to get to the top has gotten much more intense. This is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way, it’s the Korean’s attitude toward life that is the true problem. Korea needs to dial down seriously. This materialism and jealousy towards neighbors who financially succeed need to stop. Koreans hate rich people yet that what they strive to become. You are you, they are they, you don’t have to be just like them. Stop worrying about what others think of you, live the life that you want to live. Why do you need to blow half your monthly wage on your kid’s Canada Goose coat? Then complain that you don’t make enough money or that the prices of living costs are so high that you have nothing left. That’s insane. Have you checked the prices of foreign imported luxury goods lately? Those companies are keep raising the prices because if the prices are not high enough, Koreans won’t buy them! The higher the luxury price, the higher the status symbol and higher the sales! Like I said, it’s all in the minds. No government or no system can fix something that’s cultural. It is the culture, that needs fixing.

      • bumfromkorea

        . If your theory is right, that supposed lack of freedom and democracy is the factor of happiness, then why do many older Koreans who lived through 1970’s and 1980’s say that they were so much happier back then, despite the poverty, the lack of freedom, and lack of democracy?

        First off, this is not what “many older Koreans who lived through 1970’s and 1980’s say”. Just because 어버이연맹 is so eager to orally pleasure the memories of PCH and CDH doesn’t mean the Koreans who lived through those era mostly think that those days were happier.

        Because the expectations have become much higher.

        Your argument up to here is precisely what I was talking about up there. It makes a titanic assumption that it is acceptable to have “KCIA not torturing political dissenters”, “infant mortality rate not as bad as Indonesia”, “not heating homes w/ just coal briquettes”, “lucky to get minimum wage factory jobs”, “having labor rights”, etc. as the standard of evaluation for the Korea now. Again, it goes back to “at least you don’t have…”.

        Of course the expectations are higher now, because the country has moved on from its dark, dictatorial developing world days. The problem is that Korea has advanced so quickly, the older generation still can’t move on from their previous standard of evaluation. So, in a supposedly a modern democracy, the Intelligence Agency runs a psyop against the voters and the police sends literally thousands of riot police to arrest 9 people… and all they can talk about is how kids these days have it so easy. WAKE UP. Korea is now a modern, 1st world democracy. When shit like what the Saenuri has pulled so far emerges, it’s normal for people to be pissed about it. It’s regressive to say “At least the KCIA isn’t torturing the opposition. Why, back in the day…”

        • chucky3176

          According to study done in the report called “Country Report South Korea”, 2013, the suicide rate of South Korea during the 1980’s was one of the lowest in the world, and it was the lowest if you compare it to industrial nations (Korea wasn’t considered industrialized at that time).

          The study paper is here.

          The international Gallup polls and surveys on happiness consistently showed that Koreans in the 1980’s did much better than the results show today. And that misery index steadily rose as South Korea continued to industrialize over the years and gained more and more wealth and freedom. In other words, as human development index increased in Korea, the less happiness occurred. So what has changed? Inequality. As income inequality expanded in Korea, people became less satisfied. This was not a problem when everyone was fairly poor off. Jealousy toward people more financially successful is nothing new in Korea, as the hatred towards the rich in Korea is fairly high. And this will continue to be so. Not that the inequality in Korea is that bad when compared to United States, China, Hong Kong, and at least 50 other countries of the world – yet people in those countries are still happier than South Koreans. Something’s seriously wrong when people in China where there really is no democracy and freedom, are much more happier than people in South Korea.

  • KCdude

    I agree that extreme competition is killing this tiny beloved Asian country into shambles. Koreans are discouraged from appreciating anything normal like making friends for the sake of friendship. I have learned that making friends in Korea isn’t about friendship but about merely reaping the monetary benefit. How sad this is! I find it extremely uncomfortable from the fact that Koreans in general don’t have any sense of shame. There should be improvements and I mean serious improvements.

    • David

      Very very true. I don’t think anybody believes they should stop all competitiveness, but they must take SOME time to enjoy something in life or why bother at all? Of course this comes from the problems after WW II till about the late 80’s when parts of Korea still could not feed itself and the go-go attitude was needed simply to stay alive and try to make things a little better for your children.

    • HaydenG

      this has nothing to do with competition. It is korean culture and asian culture in general. an american or european would likely not cheat on a test because thats wrong even if they knew they could get away with it. In asian cultures this is not even considered.

      • bumfromkorea

        an american or european would likely not cheat on a test because thats wrong even if they knew they could get away with it.


  • wnsk

    Still a very Confucianist attitude: Take care of your family first –> when families are well, the state will be well.

    I think that’s reasonable.

    • bultak23

      Confucius taught that people should have compassion for one an other.
      In order to be compassionate, people should avoid self-aggrandizement
      and be “simple in manner and slow of speech.” They should practice
      altruism and self restraint (to those outside the family as well).

  • FYIADragoon

    Somehow I don’t think someone whose success seems partially handed to him by his father is the kind of figure fit to make these calls.

  • MintyBadger

    Meh, This read like some sort of twisted Steven Colbert or Negativeland commentary on accepting the status quo, embracing materialism, and remaining peevish and selfish while merely paying lip service to social awareness. “You’re getting along just fine…don’t complain.”

    Bah. How much of this apparent prosperity is due to borrowed money? How many people are slaving away for bosses and companies that ruthlessly exploit them to pay enormous house loans (some of them just for rentals) with no option to complain or change jobs? How about a female president who is even less progressive than any of her Chaebol Ajeosshi Network predecessors?

    Someone more clever than me could probably compile a better list of social ills…but the point is that the forced optimism in this cartoon is so blatantly self-serving and shallow makes it seem like some crass manipulation to placate people who already care less about the person they’re pushing on the subway than the people dying of hunger just north of them.

  • Gerhana

    the world will be a better place if we practice ethical hedonism.

    • GJM

      These cartoons are incredibly ignorant and petty minded — and like most issues here in Korea, simplistically polarising ( so called ) ‘left’ and ‘right’. All the silly graphic say is, ” Hha ha ha haaaa….ultra materialistic MEEEE!!!! Oh joy It’s a good life.I’m alright, I can enjoy all the high tech pleasure of life, the jeans, the selfies, the tech-toys, the cars, and it isn’t as bad as living in Gaza or Baghdad, so….SMILE KOREA, and if you don’t laugh and cheer, and grin stupidly, you are a whiner who should just crawl off and die…. and you must be some kind of lefty commie too….”

      What are you lot so impressed by? It is a reductionist and stupid cartoon, that overlooks the very real reasons that many Koreans are not happy with life, and indeed, many in the rest of the world are not happy.

  • Mighty曹

    Love the illustrations!

  • drinkitbitch

    Is no one going to talk about how every single person he depicted as “not well off” and “those poor countries” was black with protruding bones. Poverty isn’t limited to “poor Africa” in fact I’m willing to bet there are many South Koreans that are starving and not that well off this very moment.

  • Blerb

    This week’s Geopolitical News and Analysis has been slightly delayed because a South Korean professional assassination team was spotted around this reporter’s home in Tokyo. The team has now been withdrawn after we warned South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that he would be held personally accountable.

    • Blerb

      Ex-president Lee Myung-bak is a Freemason agent. This explains President Park Geun-hye’s election fraud later on.

      CF: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came into power because of an election fraud.

      The Japanese slave government, in a sign it is running scared of multiple lawsuits presenting evidence that it stole the last elections, announced last week a law to drastically curtail press freedom. It got a rebuke from the hitherto passive Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan that this writer belongs to. An e-mail sent by this writer to Prime Minister Abe’s wife last week asking for support for the new financial system went unanswered, showing Abe to be a cabal slave.

  • sure right

    Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, 나치가 공산주의자들을 잡아갈 때,

    habe ich geschwiegen; 나는 침묵했다;

    Ich war ja kein Kommunist. 나는 공산주의자가 아니었기에.

    Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, 그들이 사민당원들을 감금했을 때,

    habe ich geschwiegen; 나는 침묵했다;

    ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat. 나는 사회민주당원이 아니었기에.

    Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, 그들이 노동 조합원들을 잡아갈 때,

    habe ich geschwiegen; 나는 침묵했다;

    ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter. 나는 노동 조합원이 아니었기에.

    Als sie die Juden holten, 그들이 유태인들을 잡아갈 때,

    habe ich geschwiegen; 나는 침묵했다;

    ich war ja kein Jude. 나는 유태인이 아니었기에.

    Als sie mich holten, 그들이 나를 잡아갈 때,

    gab es keinen mehr, 나를 위해 항의해 줄 이들이,

    der protestieren konnte. 아무도 남아 있지 않았다.

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