South Korea Syndrome

If you want a picture of the future, imagine South Korea. South Korea is the sort of society you get, when Western meritocratic neoliberalism genuinely achieves what it hopes to achieve: Life becomes an endless zero sum competition for social status.

In the West this is not really achievable. To start with, there isn’t really the same degree of competition for prestigious jobs, because there’s a substantial low IQ demographic: People who are unemployable and need to be taken care of, or can only do unskilled manual labor.

In South Korea, everyone hovers around an IQ of 110. In Detroit 47% of people are functionally illiterate, but you’re not going to find some place like that in South Korea. Everyone is smart enough to read. The result is that in a society like South Korea, when you fail, you feel as if you really failed.

There is extreme pressure on children to succeed academically. After school finishes, children go to homework classes. It’s not uncommon for high school students to spend 12 to 15 hours a day, engaged in education.

A country only needs about two doctors per thousand citizens. In America, if little Billy is inheriting his dad’s construction company, if Susie is cutting her wrists while her mom thinks she’s doing homework, if Jennifer is laying high on Benadryl in bed and if Bob is still struggling to read, you have a decent chance to get into medical school.

Not so in South Korea. There is a very small elite that owns the big companies like Samsung, but there is no real middle class with inherited status. If you’re not part of the elite, you get to join the rat race, just like everyone else.

I can’t really emphasize this enough. If Western liberals had their way, if their failed attempt at building utopia would actually work, their utopia would just be South Korea. If they finally eradicated the sort of systemic racism that makes 47% of Detroit functionally illiterate, if they ended the student loan crisis, if they managed to address the root causes of crime, if they succeeded at rehabilitating drug addicts, the result would be a multicultural South Korea, that is, a Singapore without the draconian laws. South Korea is what you would get, if Elizabeth Warren got what she wanted.

I should note that all the usual ways of escaping the rat race don’t really work in South Korean society either. Consider becoming a musician. In the United States, you can spend every day smoking weed, upload songs to Soundcloud about smoking weed and if you’re in tune with your generation, you can then turn singing about smoking weed into your raison d’être.

Not in South Korea. To enter the music industry in South Korea means subjecting yourself to the same sort of hypercompetitive rat race as you run into in the rest of society. To become a K-Pop idol, that is, a puppet on strings molded and shaped by a ruthless industry into whatever Asian teenage girls (and introverted conscientious Caucasian teenage girls) want a boy to be like, you have to be subjected to a rigorous training program. You audition at age 10, then spend your teenage years training. If you make it (you probably won’t), you’ll then enter a boy band.

Never say this to someone from the Orient, but this is where you notice the difference between a collectivist and an individualist culture. In the West, boybands have always been a marginal phenomenon. We had N-Sync and the Backstreet boys, that’s about it. We like rappers and rock stars, rugged individuals who pursue a drug-fueled path of self-destruction. In Japan, if you’re a member of a boyband caught doing drugs, your career is over. In the West, if you’re a rapper or a rock star caught not doing drugs, your career is over. We look towards musicians to clash with the societal ideal. The Korean boy band singers, exemplify the societal ideal.

The result of all of this, is that South Koreans are not a happy people. Most of the South Korean movies I’ve seen are confusing. South Koreans seem to like a story that feels like a confusing puzzle that only begins making sense near the end of it. But the most successful export product South Korean cinema has produced must be Squid Game. It is too bleak, even for me, I watched about half of the first series. It is a cry for help, from a hypercompetitive society.

The female suicide rate in South Korea is the highest of the OECD. The male suicide rate is the third highest. But this does not tell the whole story, as South Korea lacks that one factor that makes suicide so easy in countries like the United States: Legal firearms. People in South Korea depend on pesticides, hanging, carbon monoxide poisoning and jumping off tall buildings, to release themselves from their misery.

South Korea also represents the liberal solution to overpopulation. Most liberals will agree that overpopulation is a problem if pressed, but it can be solved through education. What sub-Saharan Africa is lacking, in the liberal mindset, is education, particularly of women. This is then supposed to allow them to pursue their dreams, which won’t involve the maternal instinct.

You can see that liberals are right, by looking at South Korea. Education works to reduce the birth rate. But they’re not telling you the whole story. The liberal solution to overpopulation is to make life so miserable for 90+% of the population that most people are desperate to avoid having children. In South Korea the woman behind the counter at the grocery store has a bachelor’s degree and no children, she hopes nobody walks into the store who recognizes her from high school. In America the woman behind the counter dropped out of high school and has three children with two different men.

In the most recent quarter, the South Korean fertility rate dropped to 0.7. This is a society that has just collectively chosen to abolish itself. It remains to be seen if it is even possible to sustain a post-industrial society with such a low fertility rate. In the absence of massive immigration, the demographic pyramid will invert to a degree we have never before observed.

People often seem to think that low Western birth rates are due to progressive social norms. But indigenous Dutch women have a fertility rate of 1.5, more than double the South Korean rate. South Korea is relatively conservative, in its attitudes towards marriage, divorce, women’s rights, LGBTQI+ stuff andsoforth.

I think what happens is that at an early age, South Korean parents program a message into their children’s brains from which they never recover. They teach the children that nothing they do is ever good enough, that they’re not allowed to just be carefree children, that they always have to strife to get higher grades than the other children. The only result this can have is that the children will never feel adequate, even as adults. That’s why they have no grandchildren.


  1. Great post. Two more ways that South Korean society fucks up its youth:

    Circumcision (why do we keep using this euphemism instead of correctly calling it MGM?), as a result of the American influence on society left behind after the Korean war ended.

    The beauty standards pushed on young Korean woman. They have one of if not the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world. Their skincare industry is enormous. If you go on YouTube you will find endless videos by influencers describing complex 12 step skincare routines using a litany of expensive products to achieve the much coveted “glass skin”, skin so flawless that it doesn’t even look realistic anymore, like one of those Instagram filters but in real life.

    • Yes, their company “LG” which makes appliances, bought “Avon” and and it’s pretty much just about their skin care products now.

    • I wonder about their skin care products. Years ago I decided I didn’t want wrinkles, so I got a hat and some sun block. The first thing I noticed was that I felt really sick when I put on the sun block. It was a high quality sunblock, but there was something wrong about it. So I got a mineral sunblock and didn’t have that problem. On those occasions when I accidentally bought regular sunblock and put it on, I immediately had the same sick feeling.

      It’s since been found that oxybenzone and other similar ingredients in chemical sunblocks cross the skin barrier and enter the bloodstream quickly and in quantity. Oxybenzone can “mimic estrogen, interfere with testosterone production, and disrupt adrenal hormones.” Who knows what else is in those Korean skin products, or American ones for that matter. They could just be sterilizing themselves with their face goop.

      I have heard from Korean women here in the U.S. that it is common for Korean men to brutally beat their wives. I read that that is due to the socially disrupting effect of the hideous Japanese invasion extending down generations, but maybe it is instead due to the men using face goop that alters their testosterone levels.

      • Yes definitely stay away from those chemical sunscreens full of endocrine disruptors. Also from what I understand they only stay active for a couple of hours, at which point they no longer block UV and you have to reapply.

        The only truly effective sunscreens are mineral sunblocks like zinc oxide (ideally-non nano to prevent absorption into the bloodstream). Problem is they make you pasty white which is why people opt for chemical sunscreens instead.

        Another option is astaxanthin, a marine carotenoid (it’s what gives salmon and krill its pink colour) that is an extremely potent antioxidant. You take it as a pill (or eat seafood) and it protects your skin from UV. Lots of online testimonials of no more sunburn when taking it, also great for eye health. One potential side effect though is that it can inhibit 5-alpha-reductase so men may need to be careful when taking it. Other carotenoid antioxidants like beta carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin can also help the skin against UV.

        Also lots of online testimonials (see Tucker Goodrich) that removing all industrially produced vegetable seed oils high in polyunsaturated omega-6 (corn, sunflower, canola, soybean etc.) from the diet increase sun tolerance by lowering inflammation in the body. Removing sugar from the diet is also a good idea because it minimises the formation of advanced glycation end products in the skin.

        If you look at the published literature in the dermatology medical journals, the consensus is that retinoic acid (tretinoin) is by far the most effective anti-aging treatment for repairing UV aging of the skin. Niacinamide (B3) is probably the second most effective compound. You say that you are no longer vegan. Beef/lamb liver is extremely high in retinol, the precursor to retinoic acid.

        I don’t have much knowledge on treatments offered by dermatologists like microneedling. But the CO2 fractional ablative lasers are supposed to be excellent.

        • A hat can do a lot. I once met a woman who was visiting from Northern Europe who was wearing a good hat and her skin was in excellent shape. I asked her if she also used sunblock and she said no with a tone of disgust.

          Since this is just about vanity for me, I wouldn’t use antioxidants, since it isn’t clear they are safe. “exogenous antioxidants prevent some physiological functions of free radicals that are needed for cell signaling, causing higher dosages of antioxidants to hamper or prevent performance-enhancing and health-promoting training adaptation such as mitochondrial biogenesis, skeletal and cardiac muscle hypertrophy, and improved insulin sensitivity (J Exerc Sci Fit. 2022 Oct; 20(4): 269–275)

          I use retin A with nicotinamide, and have had a few radio frequency treatments; I don’t want to torment my husband by looking awful. RF is really effective for skin tone. The lasers are good if you have wrinkles – but I don’t have wrinkles, due to the hat and sunblock (cause and effect). I was partially doomed due to being half Northern European, but being half Slav has helped.

          I’ve found that low dose methylene blue (taken internally) has a powerful cosmetic effect; I take it for its anti-amyloid properties and anti viral properties but it has anti-aging effects as well.

          It’s true that I’m not vegan now, but I only eat pasture raised eggs, a little cheese, and whatever tiny amount of meat or fish is left over from cooking for the 99 year old relative who lives with us (who himself only eats a tiny amount). So not enough to have a cosmetic medical impact.

          This is a weird thing to write about in the middle of a pandemic, but I guess it is better to be an attractive corpse than to be a haggard corpse.

  2. People need to live under the impression that the future will be a better place than tomorrow to be happy. In that case poverty is bearable especially when people around them is living under the same condition.

    If people is living under the impression that the future will be a worse place than the present or that there is a big risk that they loose their wealth and their status they feel miserable. It does not matter how well of they are at the present.

  3. All the East Asian countries are like that to varying degrees and all have poor fertility rates as consequence. The only one which doesn’t is Best Korea (and even their reported figures are suspect).

    My predictions is that Worst Korea won’t be able to fix its societal problems (since they seem to be rooted in thousands of years of collectivist thinking) and it will either completely cease to exist by 2150 or come to reunite with its Best Korean brethren. All hail Our Dear Leader!

  4. Quote: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine South Korea.”

    It’s a picture of our past, the 80ies, but you can’t know that, you’re a kid of the 90ies. Nearly everything you described, was the same here in the 80ies, only without internet. We are a picture of their future.

      • Quote: “Ain’t no past I recognize from the 80s and I was solid there in the UK.”

        And what’s with Thatcherism? You don’t remember?
        “Education, education, education!”. We were hammered with this spell in Germany all day long. And although there was no internet to surveillance and control us, it was much worse.
        To get special information we always had to buy expensive books, commenting was only possible by writing reader’s letters to newspapers. The whole MSM was in the hand of conservative media moguls. We were all trimmed to bring maximal service. The 80ies were the times when the western system ran at maximum.

        • Day to day life in 80s Britain didn’t compare, there was a lot of hope. And Thatcher was about freeing individualism, albeit in a twisted way. Ironically, the offshoring of our industry to the East probably helped kick start the current dystopia eloquently described by our host.

  5. “The liberal solution to overpopulation is to make life so miserable for 90+% of the population that most people are desperate to avoid having children.”

    I think this is an extremely important point. And in general, South Korea seems to be America’s creepy Mini-Me.

    However, good news/bad news: As America’s grip on the world falters, China and North Korea are going to come stomp a mudhole in the south end of the peninsula.

    • Hell Joseon, that us what a lot of young people call South Korea, and from what I have heard, its accurate.

      How much of it comes from American attempts to manipulate SK society is difficult to say. The moonie cult and other religious fanaticism definetly is American. The parallels between Mormonism and the Unification church are hard to ignore. I wonder if we will see more victims of it lashing out like the guy who killed Abe Shinzo…he lost a bunch to a fanatical church and wanted revenge.

  6. True. The root of it is that parents believe educating their children will increase their IQ, when it will not. This same problem also severely depresses Chinese fertility; the mothers stress over smothering their child(ren) in schoolwork grind.

    Notably, the Philippines has a healthy fertility of 2.78, because Filipino IQ is 82.

    It is ironic that failure to comprehend IQ is the root cause of the demographic failure of both Western and Eastern societies, for completely different reasons. Pathological altruism vs pathological grinding.

    The average number of sexual partners in South Korea is around 4, similar to other conservative East Asian countries. Conservatism alone will not fix birthrate; one must take the IQ pill. Here is how to deliver it gently.

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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