Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Slow Down Korea

Living in Korea I am getting to know first hand how rapid industrialization and the obsession with growth changes a people. The shift happened so fast here (under the ruthless Park Administration 1961-79) that some traditional farm houses still stand between tall buildings and the farmers can still be found ploughing the earth beside the highway and wild collecting in the cryptoforests. Guerrilla gardening is the norm in Seoul.

In the countryside, among the farmers and foodies, it is still possible to get a feel for the slowness and quality of the traditional Korean life. A lifestyle which is in danger of becoming extinct in the frenzy of achievement, success and growth that keeps people in the office and in the classroom from morning till midnight.

The shift from traditional agrarian society to an 'Asian Tiger' of economic growth has been a harsh and violent one, filled with ideological struggles and the division of the people. The history of internal conflict since WW2, resulting in multiple mass massacres, has been repressed by the Korean and other foreign governments.

Many questions remain and a lot of work for the visionaries, movers and shakers of Korea.

As inspiration for a move toward a more just and equitable society I am posting the manifesto of the group who gets closest to hitting the mark. This manifesto marked the beginning of Slow Food in 1989.

The Slow Food Manifesto 

Our century, which began and has developed under the insignia of industrial civilization, first invented the machine and then took it as its life model.

We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods.

To be worthy of the name, Homo Sapiens should rid himself of speed before it reduces him to a species in danger of extinction.

A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life.

May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency.

Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food.
Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.

In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer.

That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it. And what better way to set about this than an international exchange of experiences, knowledge, projects?

Slow Food guarantees a better future.

Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters who can help turn this (slow) motion into an international movement, with the little snail as its symbol.

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