Korea

Prior to meeting my family in 2002, my previous knowledge about Korea was pretty much to nothing other than being “found” at the police station, according to adoption documents and that’s all my adoptive parents knew too. For much of my life, I took that as a fact and did not really think much about it. But then over the time, it seemed natural that I’d start to ask questions about myself like what does my parents look like or whether if I have siblings. As for my siblings, I remember having a strong feeling about them and I remember not believing that I was an only child in my biological family and that I must have had a brother or sister. Sure enough, when I met my siblings in 2002, my sister told me she spent some time with me (she was six years old) and helped carry me on her back at times.

(more…)

Deaf Korean couple in Apple Facetime commercial


Guy: “You look beautiful.” *finger on cheek*

Girl: *blushed* kamsahamnida (thank you)

Girl: “I wish I can see you.”

Guy: “Me too.”

Girl: “I love you.” (this is cute because this is supposed to be signed with two hands (palm over the thumb) but with one hand holding the iPhone, one hand is being signed.)

Guy: “I love you too.”

Pretty universal, isn’t it? ^^

Big Mac burger index and S. Korean Won

My mind has been dabbling in a bit of economics, just trying to understand the subject better. I’ve mentioned before that currency valuation is no longer tied to how much gold the government has, although gold always will be valuable due to its rarity (finite number of the element in the world) and malleability, which means it can be easily melted into jewelry if there is such a demand. So, currencies like a dollar is used as a means to purchase services or goods. Thus, it is important to know how much of a value one dollar can buy. It can be a little difficult trying to grasp of what a dollar can get you for, so one way to measure this is the fun Big Mac index.

Burgernomics is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Thus in the long run, the exchange rate between two countries should move towards the rate that equalises the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in each country. Our “basket” is a McDonald’s Big Mac, which is produced in about 120 countries. The Big Mac PPP is the exchange rate that would mean hamburgers cost the same in America as abroad. Comparing actual exchange rates with PPPs indicates whether a currency is under- or overvalued.

and the link to the Big Mac index.

The main purpose of the index is to make it easier to grasp valuation in different currencies than reading exchange rates. At first, when I looked at the index, ofc, I thought it was amusing to use Big Macs but it’s logical because it is sold in about 120 countries and McDonald’s is a highly efficient business. Each burger and french fries have to taste the same and the way they cook them is same too. So, it’s a good way to compare prices of those burgers in different countries. My second thought was whether if it is accurate? this was just published.

(G20) Korean won 2nd most undervalued unit among G-20 currencies: data

Now, onto the Big Mac index – ‘Big Mac Index’ Finds Korean Won Undervalued

So, it turns out that the Big Mac index is accurate after all, almost dead even at 18 percent below.

One reason a dollar is the most popular currency in the world is because of how much GDP is produced every year at $14 trillion dollars in America. So, if you have $3.15 in your pocket, you can buy a Big Mac in any state out of 50 states. Dollar is that good.

You may ask why do they differ in the valuation? Well, there are many factors but in the perfect world, you would want to reach the maximum equilibrium between demand and supply. If a big mac is priced higher, then it could be that they don’t have enough burgers to meet the demand, thus priced higher. In South Korea’s case, I’m not too sure why it’s undervalued – I don’t think it has to do with the over-supply of burgers – I suppose more likely the exchange rate is not right. You’d want to have a reasonable exchange rate so that money can be used most efficiently. If currency is too strong like spending almost 5 dollars for one Big Mac in Switzerland, it may curb spending and you’d only order one burger, not two and slow down the economy. If it’s too weak, it may encourage people to spend more, which is what the Federal Reserve Bank is trying to do with a $600 billion pump into the economy. It’ll weak down the currency but inflation may rise due to the money supply being greater now. That’s Keynesian economics, btw. So, it’s that delicate balance again.

Right now, the cheapest Big Mac is in China and one reason they could do that is how many people they have in the country with over 1 billion people or 100 cities with more than 1 million people, so they are just trying to meet the demand and keep the currency low. Imagine how many burgers they are feeding into. For that, perhaps you’d want to order 3 big macs. :)

Korea

Feels like writing something here. This one, I’m gonna talk a bit about Korea. I’ve been here for 5 months already, so almost halfway through the year. It’s been a good experience and as usual, I’ve been observing things and pondering my own thoughts.

One thing that’s truly impressive about this country is that sixty years ago, this country was completely ravaged by war, conflicted by ideologies (democracy vs. communists) and politics. It’s also been getting constant threats from different countries like Japan and then was occupied by it for 40 years. It doesn’t help when your peninsula is an in-between buffer between two zealous countries. It sent a wake-up call to Korea that it just can’t afford to stand peaceful and forced Korea to modernize like the rest of world has. Korea was fortunate to receive help from the U.S. and General MacArthur came abroad to Incheon, a port city where I was born in, to help ward off the Communists up north. Too bad they couldn’t really finish the war (General MacArthur had plans to use atomic bomb but U.S. President Truman wouldn’t approve of it) and the DMZ line was drawn up. From that point on, who knew Korea would go from a ravaged country to the country that will host G20 summit soon in two weeks and its GDP just reached one trillion dollars? and with companies like Samsung that supplies flat panel displays and in as many cellphones including the iPhone and iPad? Even Google and Samsung are co-developing a Google-specific smartphone. As for our not so friendly neighbor, North Korea, I’ve heard different opinions to the handling of the neighbor but by my own guts, North Korea will eventually collapse one day and it’d be up to S. Korea to shoulder the responsibility. In fact, the government has already started a tax funding for the reunification, so it’s really a matter of time. It’ll be historic, no doubts.

While I’m here, most of the time I’ve been thinking on was what if I was never adopted? what would have become of me? I know I wouldn’t have the same opportunity as I have, that’s for sure. So, it’s been an interesting thought process for myself and I’ve also been spending time with my family, all more remarkable that my sister is deaf too and is married to a deaf guy. Now that they have a child of their own, they’ve expressed an interest in moving to America, so that she would receive education and hopefully, some opportunities. That’s been something that’s on my mind.

It’s pretty weird that till 2002, I knew nothing of my family and birthplace and even asking myself if I really was born here. When I visited in 2002, I saw where I was from and from that point, I made a commitment to myself that I’d make the most of my life and opportunities that I may get. I had just finished my second year in college. And eight years later, I eventually did make my way back into Korea and got a chance to experience living here for a year. With that, I am starting to see my life all more clearly now.

It has only begun.

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