While speaking with a Sogang professor about the difficulties of explaining some American cultural abstractions to the students, I said that it was tantamount to trying to define kitsch--possible but thorny. His response was interesting: that perhaps Korean society can be viewed as one that actually has no (or extremely limited) concept of kitsch at all. Japan should be considered an extreme case of the lack of a sense of kitsch, but Korea is certainly on the continuum.

Or perhaps it is in fact such a reconception of kitsch as to be on an entirely new level?

The lack of a sense of kitsch would definitely explain the astounding scene around Korean universities in terms of density and style of stores, restaurants, shops, and bars, many if not most exuding a potently un-ironic kitsch.

I would imagine someone has studied this in the Korean context, but I haven't yet done a search for writing dealing with it. Just thinking aloud.

I just keep thinking of Kundera's definition of kitsch and its relationship to "shit"...and wish I had read that more recently since I don't remember the details.

.(...or just google for a discussion and remind yourself)


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