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March 14, 2020


lj, thanks for these articles on South Korea. I've always found it one of the more interesting countries.

My earliest memory of Korea was from overhearing my parents discussing whether my father might be recalled into the Army because of the Korean war.

Though I haven't watched any in months, I've watched several thousand hours of Korean drama series.

"South Korean Healthcare

Although South Korea does have a state-monopolized system providing a universal health insurance, this state-provided insurance is not able to set prices in the market for healthcare. Hospitals and clinics routinely charge patients more than the state insurance will pay, which has caused many Koreans to take out private insurance to cover the difference. The Korea Bizwire reports that eight out of ten Koreans take out such insurance, with the average Korean paying just over 120,000 won (about $120) a month for it.

Care is provided by a set of hospitals that are 94 percent privately owned, with a fee-for-service model and no direct government subsidies. Many of these hospitals are run by charitable foundations or private universities. Private hospitals in the country exploded in number from 1,185 in 2002 to 3,048 in 2012. The result is that South Korea has 10 hospital beds per 1,000 people, more than twice the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average (and nearly three times as many as Italy’s 3.4 beds per capita). These private hospitals also charge significantly less (between 30–85 percent of the price) than US hospitals (which are also often required to get a “certificate of need” from the government before construction, depending on what state they are built in)."
Markets vs. Socialism: Why South Korean Healthcare Is Outperforming Italy with COVID-19

On the other hand, jumping over these things could (though I'm not tech-y enough to identify them) create lacuna.

This is a fascinating point.

Like Charles, my knowledge of Korean culture is (largely) based around viewing Korean drama, and one thing which stuck me forcefully was the apparent accelerated social change compared to the West.
Dramas made just over a decade ago have a cultural vibe which reminds me more of the 70s/80s over here, and then all of a sudden there’s something of a jump in the early ‘10s.

Thinking about what lacuna that might have created is interesting indeed.

I'm suspecting the biggest lacunae would tend to be the cases where, if you jumped thru all the hoops, you would know first hand that something just doesn't work, and why.

If you skip steps, you get the same kind of thing we see elsewhere with young people. For them the mistakes of the past are vague history, if they know of them at all. And that just doesn't have the immediacy of having made the mistake yourself.

One thing that seemed to changed Korean drama was that, like the US, there were looser restrictions on what could be depicted in cable programming as opposed to broadcast programming.

Charles, what do you mean? In terms of sex

cable programming is subject to the same restrictions. Plus the leap means that the big difference that USains have in mind when they think of broadcast vs. cable is really only a blip.

As for insurance, Koreans are health obsessed. You go out to eat with Koreans and every dish is treated as medicine and you'll be told that X is good for your liver and Y is good for your eyes. So I don't think the insurance is because they aren't covered sufficiently, it's that they will often go overboard. I think this is why the COVID response has been the way it has been (I can't think of any other OECD country taking on similar measures) I'm not sure about this, but I was told that half of the hospitals in Korea are Oriental medicine hospitals and Koreans will often use Western and Oriental medicine in parallel.

lj, you're no doubt right. I just got the impression that there were differences in the levels of restrictions between the different programming sources. Perhaps restrictions have been diminishing on all sources.

There's a bit of dual medical treatment in China too. Doctors treat patients with western medicine to cure/manage their ailments. And with CTM to get them to go along with the western medicine and/or keep them happy.

A Korean related documentary.

"With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The DeepMind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history."
DeepMind: AlphaGo - The Movie (YouTube)

"They say StarCraft was the game that changed everything. There had been other hits before, from Tetris and Super Mario Bros to Diablo, but when the American entertainment company Blizzard released its real-time science-fiction strategy game in 1998, it wasn’t just a hit—it was an awakening.

Back then, South Korea was seen as more of a technological backwater than a major market. Blizzard hadn’t even bothered to localize the game into Korean. Despite this, StarCraft—where players fight each other with armies of warring galactic species—was a runaway success. Out of 11 million copies sold worldwide, 4.5 million were in South Korea. National media crowned it the “game of the people.”

The game was so popular that it triggered another boom: “PC bangs,” pay-as-you-go gaming cafés stocked with food and drinks where users could entertain themselves for less than a dollar an hour. As old-world youth haunts like billiard halls and comic-book stores disappeared, PC bangs took their place, feeding the growing appetite for StarCraft. In 1998 there were just 100 PC bangs around the country; by 2001 that had multiplied to 23,000. Economists dubbed the phenomenon “Starcnomics.”"
Video games are dividing South Korea: Arguments over whether game addiction is real have led to feuds between government departments and a national debate over policy.

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