Friday, November 12, 2010

The Voice in the Wall

Apparently today was 'no car day'. We heard it in an announcement yesterday evening over the Orwellian-style speaker that can't be turned off which is fixed into our apartment wall.

I don't really understand much of what's said by Big Brother, or at least his local representative - the security guards/janitors who skulk in an office in the basement of the building. But sometimes the rambling and slurred delivery leaves little doubt to how some ajeoshis get through their working day. And as jobs go, I'd rather people like this be working as security guards than bus or taxi drivers, although from the quality of the driving of the aforementioned types of vehicles, I'm rather afraid they actually do both.

It's also not clear who designated today 'no car day'. Of course, you'd like to think it was the local council, but then if I worked as a apartment building security guard I imagine I might have great fun making false announcements. Sunglasses day, no bike day, bike day, wear red day and 5am day would all be my ideas. After all, there's only so much pleasure to be had watching people on security cameras, telling them off for incorrect recycling bin allocations, and reminding them every ten minutes that there's a package waiting to be collected from their office until they come to get it. There's a package waiting for you. I still have your package. You should come and collect your package. Package. Package. Package.

I gather that a growing number of Koreans are seeking help from psychiatrists to relieve stress.

Package. Waiting. For You.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was no discernible lessening of the traffic volume on the road outside this morning. And if, disappointingly, this is some kind of Busan-wide political campaign rather than just being the security guard's late evening solution to boredom, I have to wonder what exactly the politicians expect compliant citizens to do? Is everyone who foregoes the use of their car just expected to pile into the rush hour's (or in Busan, should that be rush hours?) already tightly-packed buses and subway carriages?

Recently I became radio active and started travelling to Busan e-FM every week during the busy commuting period, and they certainly don't call it the '지옥철' - jiogcheol - for nothing (a Korean play on words, 'jihacheol' - 지하철 - means subway, jiog - 지옥 - means hell). Trains come every five minutes and you can't really fault the Busan 'Humetro' Authority, but there are just two many people living here all trying to get to the same places at the same times. No wonder people drive in Busan despite the high risk of death involved.

Oh, did I mention there's a package waiting for you in the janitor's office? Right now. Please.


Chris in South Korea said...

They had a 'no car day' in Seoul for the G20 summit and to keep the roads clearer for the hundreds of limos shuttling around foreign powerful people.

The speaker in the ceiling definitely seemed a bit Orwellian when I moved in - we heard two announcements of the census in my first week here - but if it's any consolation, it's going out to everyone in the building.

Megan X said...

Hahahhahaa... Orwellian style...

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