Taken from the article, 'Seoul. The Complex Ornament' by Kang Su-Mi
-A city underconstruction
In this sense, Seoul, in general, always has been, always is, and always will be, "under construction". No matter how much this sentence indicates past, present and future of a city, Seoul lives a life restricted to its present. A very dominant present, a sucession of "moments", autonomously ballooning, unfastened from history. Therefore in Seoul, moments of the present can overlap and stack, but can never build up into a history; just like there is no sense of history to a construction site by a street, which was broken open in order to fix the failures of the work, finished just the day before...
-The ornament of the capital
Every big city on this planet is trapped in a labyrinth stairway of "profit" (although, I am not sure, whether a rural township in the most distant Kangwondo in Korea or Alps will be free from it). All these labyrinths are connected by the ceiling of "global capitalism", under which every metropolis in the world strives for the next level of profit, hurrying from one level of economic growth to the next. It is rather and escalator, since under the global capitalism, you do no longer achieve these goals by physical work like in the early steps of industrialisation. This new global economic order reaches its profit-heights by a combination of international capital and specualtion, mulitnational corporations with sophisticated marketing and advertising techniques, mass-distributed cultural industry products. In short, it gains profit through non-material labour. On a stairway you have to keep moving by yourself in order to get up, on a elevator the ground on which you stand is moving and in most cases, it is hard to overcome the passenger in front of you. Masked by the ideal of horizontal economical exchange, the global capitalism sucessfully hides the fact that the rules are laid out by those few players, who were in advance anyway. For those who did not get a head-start into the race, keeping pace is more than difficult...
...The ornament of global capitalism lays upon the culture and art scene of modern cities, is a diagram of concentric circles. The centre is firmly anchored in capital, while all the areas of culture and art, education, and the individual lives build up the circles. As the core of the ornament - the capital - moves, every connected circle follows its direction. I will not stress the dependencies within the relationship of centre and periphery, but it is fact that economic concepts like "cultural industry" or "capitalist competition principle" have found their ways into the areas of culture and education.
As natural as you will lose you way in a maze, it is quite obvious that peoples' life will get lost in the cities, which huddle under the roof of global capitalism - no matter whether they helped building it it or were forced to enter. A critical examination of the cultural structure of our time seems to be the most important thing in circumstances like these.
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