An Apparently Content Army
As we bussed along the South Korean freeways, passing these complexes every so often, I found myself at first repulsed by the mountains of faceless, Spartan concrete.
Then I had to forget that I come from America, with its “American Dream” of homeownership and affluence.
Viewed through the filter of efficiency, the South Korean approach is a brilliant system. The alternative would be a three-hour commute from Seoul, leaving employees reduced to only seeing their families on weekends (as many commuters in America do now) and coping with haphazard attendance. Shuttling people to and from work is done quickly and easily, and we were told they work in eight-hour shifts.
Compared to 60 years ago, these conditions are affluent, complete with schools, medical centers, and sports facilities. Indeed, as we mulled among the crowds of youthful fab laborers, they chatted happily and were dressed in tasteful, modern fashions. Many apparently drive their own cars, as the expansive parking lot was brimming with white, gray, and black vehicles. Interestingly, South Koreans seem not to buy cars painted in colors. I observed this while overlooking the Tangeong fab’s parking lot and confirmed it on Google Maps, as you can see in the center frame shown here. This perhaps unconscious display of uniformity reinforced my impressions about the culture and its cohesive mission.