Friday, 22 October 2010

CNN Poland Korea - Global Connections

Last tuesday a lady from CNN asked me if I agreed to show on Global Connections as they have a Poland -Korea week ongoing.

It prooves imagination and high IQ actually to spot the simmilarities and connections between the two countries, cause they are there and many of them.

In OECD ranking Polish and Koreans work the longest hours in developed countries outscoring demonized USA by 7 places.

Unlike other rather cool and hush down East Asians, the Koreans are hot-tempered and one has impression that they tend to blow up even in business, and this happens to Polish as well. We do quarrel and blow up a lot, enough if I mention my dad who is like a volcano.

On Global Connections website people had been putting thoughts which popped up in their minds on the topic.

From very accurate like simmilarities in folk cuisine - cabbage (sourkraut) and dumplings, to very absurd and idiotic like paper cut and caligraphy paper.

Here I come to the very core of my point. Making superficial remarks by American who doesn't speak proper Polish anymore and had maybe one Polish grandfather does not make much sense here, does it? Yet it very often happens. So, according to some Polish-American Polish culture is all about "wy -chee - naan - kee" how he had written it in the website.

Never again mention paper-cut as something core important in Polish culture if you don't actually know it and have never been there. Polish folk culture differs a lot and when you drive 30 km the folk traditional dress maybe already the whole different. Paper cuts were peasants solution for cheap wall decorations in a region which is much smaller than Warsaw nowadays and it was ... more than 100 years ago, so it has now a museum value and is not a living culture at all. Therefore attaching it as something called "Polish culture" may be strongly insulting.

If you really want to know what Polish culture is about, get to know Możdżer, Chopin, Penderecki, Kilar, Polanski, Kieslowski, Kossak, and so on and so on. If you are interested in folk culture, move your ass and come before you say that "paper cut" is what defines it. 

Core difference is that Korea had been a feudal state until 1910, and Poland had first form of democracy established as early as 1570. Therefore Korean culture is strongly homogenous, but even they had also had astonishingly beautiful poetry and even for them it may be insulting to be associated with cabbage and paper.

Though I must admit that EXPO had been a success in terms of architecture. The EXPO -POLAND  building
had been copied around whole Asia including Dubai, and within first 4 days of the show, 28000 people visited the building. Maybe those who visited will, after all, go to visit and discover even more. And especially that modern buildings in Warsaw are not made of "Wy Chee  nan kee". 

The show on CNN was cool. It was very nice to get some recognition as a country on CNN, however so late. Global stocks, inverstors, funds, and business would not admit it but invests a lot in "Warsaw" related entities, bonds, financial instruments and others. As Jack Nicholson said" Better Late Than Later". Korea was also a veeery long time ago discovered by international business. Only media, as usual, are the latest.

I appeared on the show for brief second, and I do promise that I will never ever do it again because it is not nice and not professional to be "grey citizen" speaking for CNN. I had no make-up cause the lady was late, had forgotten the appointment and all my nice cloths, nice hairstyle and nice makeup was gone when she finally contacted me at more or less 1 am.

The photo shows Polish pavilon on EXPO. Wy -chee-naan-kee. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

"Sustainable" concept of development

I think I might have written about this before, but today I had a successfull presentation about international aspect of sustainability at the University of Ajou Global Leadership for Sustainable Development International Seminar, exactly today, October 20th.

During my research I have read thousands of pages, papers, and so on, but also interviewed people, read newspapers. From common sense observation, sustainable development was put aside after the 1997 financial crisis in Korea, and it is very said because it influences not only natural environment but also national heritage - traditional Korea in terms of it's authentic non-museum non- festive manner is disappearing if not disappeared already.

Faculty are conscious about it, and they admit it as a sad fact, but not much can they do within this matter. They would have to be very close to actual policymakers in the presidential's committee to change that.
Maybe something even more is needed, such a conclusion came to my mind at the very end of my presentation. The comprehensive system of environmental awareness education is needed from the very kindergarden in schools and also in public media. Our minds are already shaped when we join academia, It's too late to learn about sustainable development or eco-friendly approach and manners of life.

How is it in Poland, one may ask. Well Poland is green because of it's historic heritage, public approach is divided, just like in Korea. Some say: grow, develop, grow, develop, build, expand, and some say: think before you act and "though shall not kill". Positivism and it's historic legacy of natural scientists who involved into early modern conservation ideas led to establishing first Natural Reserves and Natural Parks in the late 19th/early 20th Century. Later Sustainable Development was under the carpet during communist times, two professors worked on it and two of them also served as high rank UN ofiicials building framework fundamentals for global sustainability. For those really interested I recommend works and interviews of Ignacius Sachs or Stefan Kozłowski (more of Sachs in english).

Both Poland and Korea are facing modern development pressures. But both are conscious about growth limitations, and seek the way to achieve sustainability, and have ways to share the experience: Poland it's fundamental heritage for global conservation and Korea it's global stewardship for sustainable ideas.

The paper and the presentation will be published soon at my website: www.agnieszka,

Have a nice day, evening, night.

Enjoy the natural world till you still can, treasure every little bit of it.
"The culture which cuts off from the wild life in nature around us and also from the wild life of our inner selves, is meant for self-destruction" Gary Snyder

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


... about how my faith in humanity was restored and why I love Korea.

Because I do, genuinely.

Today I went to fix my new cellphone number. I couldn't manage with it, cause apparently they have no prepaid cells available on the spot, but I had funny adventures.

I went to SK Telecom shop and heard a very well accented "Hi". A good looking bit panicked young man was watching me and waiting until I say something.

- I want to get the cheapest prepaid phone you have.

- Impossible. - oh, I already thought it was impossible because of my ARN is until Deecember only.
- Why?

Then I had seen him opening google translate, typing something in Korean and the screen had shown:
- We don't have now. Sorry.
- Onjae isoyo? When will you have ? ( less gramatically correct but he seemed to understand me well).
- Monday.
- Olmayeyo? How much?
This time it was calculator in use.
- Handy phony 29000, chargy 20 000 KRW.
- ??? - nomu pisayo. Expensive! Why that?
- Chergy 20 000.
- Arossoyo. I see.
And I start taking money from my wallet.
- Aniyo, on monday. Come. Pay.
Broken english was just enough for me to understand what he was saying. My broken Korean spared him from typing each time on the screen. One thing came to my mind though.
- How will you know it's me? Why don't you write it down somewhere?
I had written him down my landline and a word Monday on yellow sticker.
- Ah, arossoyo. Kinchanayo. - heard I in response.
- Nanyn 월요일 come. I will come on monday.
- See you on Monday.
How friendly place in the world is this country. In Poland there are global policies and global solutions and here every branch of the bank and every branch of any telecom has policies adjusted to local community of customers and their needs. The closest telecom shop to Ajou makes no fuzz about anything, no formalities, even if it's staff does not speak english at all and uses google translate instaed. I think two dimensions make it prevailing the way it does. Asians do not complain that much and are not that poshy as customers. I am not that poshy as a traveller as well. In Poland some sophisticated Briton would maybe make a big fuzz about the level of the service, especially in Warsaw's white collar district. A personnel without good command of english would be fired. Here, noone cares... and I love it.

As I was walking down my local food and service street close to Ajou, walking back home, I decided to have a cup of nice coffee.

- Hojilnot isoyo? - asked I gently in haha Coffee shop.
- Anyohaseyo, oh, haizeelnoty obsoyo. Myanamnidah. We don't have hazelnut coffee now, sorry.

I saw a very nice guy in his 40's with genuine smile saying sorry to a customer with his entire self, and he ran away from the shop somewhere as I was waiting for machiato he offered to make with a discount.

My machiato was ready when I saw a guy rushing back in with a bunch of mandarines, giving me two of them said:
- Mashilke tyseyo - bon apetite.

And he said something which in my instinct translation sounded like " Have a nice day".

Not much was needed to make me even more happy today.

Now, eating my mandarine.
The photo comes from

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

North Korea: heir officially appointed

North Korean dynasty seems to be well. Last Sunday on the North Korean military parade marking 65 years of reclusive state's rule the father and son, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, appeared together side to side.

It is too early to say if it's going to change anything in NK policies towards it's Southern neighbor, power shift very often brings sudden changes. Kim Jong Un has to be accepted by majority of informal leaders. If he is not, then "righteous" rebelion based on ancient confucian culture may very likely take place, just like it was in South Korea in 1979, when development dictator Park was assasinated.

Kim Jong Il had probably suffered from a stroke in 2008 and hence focused on establishing a heir. It comes to my mind in this case, what is actually a chance for a dynasty in North Korea? Maybe it sounds silly, but...

Next to it, South Korean society does not want any kind of reconciliation anymore. Reconciliation with North Korea starts to be an old granny story for plenty of young people, but relevant data I shall reveal soon. I perform research on this issue and expect some results in a month.

Up till now, nothing changed. The world turns as it turned before...