Just doing some rapid postings here of some stuff I will further investigate (in my own time, even if I don't post it here, because my interactions with Korean faculty and students of late obliges me to do so). So I don't have time to really shape this as an essay.
Anyway, Gord Sellar is curious why sci fi hasn't put down roots in South Korea. To him, the question is perplexing, insofar as the country appears to be influenced by foreign sci fi:
In recent years, the government has advanced proposals for such insane things as robotic nannies who could teach English to children — and even a goal to put one in every home by 2015, no less (here’s where The Economistmentions it)… which should alarm those worried about government surveillance and privacy, since the bots will doubtless be running on wireless networks and a virus-susceptible Windows BotX edition. They also are hoping to get robotic patrol-botsset up to guard the DMZ. Autonomous bots! As Michael humorously points out, we’d better hope they’re multilingual, or there will be a lot of dead hakwon teachers and immigrant factory workers. Actually, they don’t seem to be coming along too quickly anyway.
Notwithstanding these parallels, Sellar wants to argue that one should be careful about mapping civilizational developmental narratives in Western terms, asking:
"Would a Korean postmodernity even look familiar to a Westerner? Need a Korean imagine the future the way an American does? Granted, Korea is likely to import whatever generalized postmodernity actually succeeds here, as it has modernity, and as academics in some fields at least have been doing for some time, but would it necessarily have to do so?"
The essay remains inconclusive, supposedly on account of the absence of a strong South Korean sci fi tradition. Please note though, the piece is part of a series, so I would recommend following the listed links to see where else he takes the argument. What is significant for present purposes though, is the reference to William Gibson's well-known piece, "Modern Boys and Mobile Girls", from which can (according to Sellar) be inferred that the telling difference has to do with how "Japan and China, interestingly, both share something specifically with the Anglophone West that Korea does not, which is an awkward colonialist history". Unfortunately, this aspect of the essay remains undeveloped. What I think is more telling then is how the reference to Gibson is reinforced by his most recent piece, which appeared in the New York Times. Gibson has not given up on the idea of finding the future in a place. The reality of globalization leads me to question the viability of this position. So I would instead conclude, along with Samuel Gerald Collins, that a more fruitful line of inquiry could be conducted in terms of "cultural arbitrage":
"...the gap that opens up between global modernity and the kind of hopes and expectations people have for their lives. Looking somewhere else doesn't mean that our life will become more like their life. But it does open up the possibility for reflecting on similar conditions in the US. That is, the "gap" opens up onto our contradictory experiences and expectations and forces us to question the course of our own futures."
Hence, the said approach treats Seoul not "as as a window onto the future, but as a means for thinking about our mutual futures".
I'm very keen to see where this goes.