Today in Seoul 37: Globalization

November 21, 2016

I stepped out of the way of a Fed Ex truck this morning (they’re much smaller here). There’s a 7-Eleven across the street from where I’m sitting. All these American commercial icons…. After Brexit and Trumpism, there’s all this talk about how “globalization” is really “Americanization” — commentary made with overtones and accusations of imperialism. (It’s not new: I did some poking around, and found a lot of these comments since the turn of the new century.) Adds a curious twist, doesn’t it, to think of voters pushing back against their own country’s international influence? Things look different when you see them from the other side… all I’m sayin’. The Koreans don’t seem to mind, judging from the number of delivery scooters in front of McDonald’s. Plus, there’s not just Americanization, there’s also Italianization: Seoul is a great place for Italian espresso; the one on my table is Lavazza. Frenchization, too: Paris Baguette bakery/cafés are everywhere; now if only I weren’t celiac and gluten-free…. Plus there are plenty of Japanese restaurants and businessmen around, Korean isn’t the only language on the newspaper rack, and on it goes. Funny, I would think the American brands would catch my American eye more easily than they do, but I had to go looking for them when I did this post. Otherwise, they’re just a normal part of the landscape. The Global Village is new to my generation, but not Gillian’s. One night last week she joined some Saudi friends who were hosting a Brazilian dance troupe. She shared videos of her Korean dance company. Globalization? Certainly. Imperialism? Maybe not.