Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Korea #6:  The Malaysians Go to Dinner; 20 Minutes at the Latte Department Store

Eighty Malaysians have added a lightness and quick smiles to summer school here at Chonbuck National University.  Equally divided between men and women, most of them engineering and science students, they are here for a quick emersion in Korean language and culture.  In this picture they gather before heading out to class in the courtyard on a rare rain-less day:

They are all in the volunteer police reserve, a three-year ROTC-like plan to provide training and experience and some remuneration while in school.  After graduating they can choose a police career or another field.  All the women appear to be Muslim.  A head scarf frames many beautiful, sunny faces.  There is about them no shyness and no fear.  Perhaps I’m projecting but I imagine have benefited from a less sexualized society than our own.   

They all attend the University of Malay, an urban campus of 27,000 in Kuala Lampur, most live in dorms and speak exceptional English, Malay or Indonesian being their first language.   

Sinoh Saznizam Sazmee plans to be an environmental engineer like his father and hopes to study in the U. S. but will settle for Australia next year.  Yes, he says, Malaysia is a peaceful country with petty theft and safety the main concerns of the police.  “But we also perform the role of the FBI in your country and it is our job to prevent terrorism,” he tells me.

Last night they were decked out in their national dress for a big dinner in a restaurant.  I thought you’d like to see a few of them:

Tomorrow they begin Ramadan which will mean carry-out meals from the cafeteria. 

Some of the teachers and I then went off to a superb vegetarian restaurant, $12, all you can eat which for me was a whole lot.  As in India, there is so much variety and so many new tastes I find it hard to describe.  If I were into smiley faces they would be inserted here.

Afterwards I sped through the last 20 minutes the Latte department store was open.  It was like Rodeo Drive on four floors: rich, dazzling, clean displays and staffed like a cruise ship.  Each department’s staff had its own color uniform.  Two people were working umbrellas, two at single table of scarves and I could not count everyone working in cosmetics.  The cosmetics department promises to somehow do bring your pores under control.

Better is one of the cosmetics department’s mottos: “Laughter is the best cosmetic so grin and wear it."

Prices seem comparable to Macy’s or Dillards, depending on the product.  The high-end scene in India was one of separate stores, as in the KB tower in Bangalore, not a single place as here.  Every luxury brand is here, including many I had not heard of. Latte seems to be an important brand in Korea, with mid-range department and food stores, bottled products, coffee shops and a mobile advertising app.   As you look at these pictures consider that Korea has a per-capita GDP of $79 in 1970.  Just 43 years later it is just under $24,000.  


1 comment:

  1. Very nice article Mr. Brady, thanks for including us! -Saznizam