[KS] RE: Korea-mania in China

Reinschmidt, Michael mreinschmidt at csuchico.edu
Thu Oct 4 15:41:04 EDT 2001


I remember discussing in class the influence of American pop culture on
Korean youths just a few semesters ago. A Korean American student made a
comment about how unhappy she was about this influence and how glad she was
that she had been influenced by Korean culture through her family. She
concluded her comment by approximately saying "well, I guess nobody would
ever be impressed by what people do in Korea or even copy something of our
lifestyle like people copy things American or European all of the time."
A couple of days later I wanted to surprise and impress her by wearing a
pair of shoes I had bought in Korea during my last visit there. These are
the funny but sleek-looking, very oblong shoes that young men nowadays wear
ubiquitously all over Korea. I found them extremely sharp when in Korea. But
the coolness-effect didn't carry over to America in me being the lone
pioneer trying to break a new trend. Fashions have to be seen and understood
in cultural context. These shoes didn't "click" in an American context
(yet). The entire class chuckled and suggested to also buy a cane and a
black hat and grow a Charlie Chaplin-mustache. To my disappointment, even
the Korean American student had neither seen nor heard anything about this
"new" (Korean?) fashion that a Westerner was ready to adopt. Obviously, she
hadn't been "home" for some time.
I guess this anecdote indicates how fast our globalized times are changing.
Along the lines of Michael Robinson's comment, I am now wondering does
anybody know anything about the creative origins of that type of shoes? Are
they worn in other parts of (East) Asia? To me they are still uniquely
Korean and I will always marvel at the very creativity and originality of
their design.

Mike Reinschmidt

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