A Real Human Being

How Korea & the Victorian Era Hold the Key to a More Fulfilled Life

I decided to write a blog.

I’m looking at it as a way to release tension. To relieve stress. Someplace for me to collect my thoughts and practice writing again.

I’ve been feeling drawn to writing a lot lately. When I was a kid I used to write a lot. I think I was a decent writer.

But I’ve lost some of that skill. And I want to revive it.

I am uncertain what I should write about, though. The experts (whatever that means) say when writing a blog you should choose a specific niche and focus on that.

I kind of don’t want to do that.

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Do you think that will hurt my readership? Should I care about that? What I mean to say is do you think I should go into it with readership in mind?

I mean of course I should to some degree. Like of course I want to make these posts readable and clickable. I want other people to read them. Otherwise I should just write in a journal, right?

But how much should I focus on that? I want these to be authentic and vulnerable. I don’t want it to feel like you are reading a post that is so stacked with keywords and built around data and analytics that it loses connection to people.

Because that is the ultimate goal with this blog, I think.


I personally want to feel connected to other people. And I want to help other people feel connected to me. Or even to someone else. Maybe I can facilitate that, or help some people to find it in their own lives.

So I want these posts to feel really human. Like you are reading a letter from a friend.

Hopefully I can find a balance between the data and the authenticity.


Born At The Wrong Time

These posts may not be very good at all. I anticipate that they won’t be great at first.

And there is a good reason for it.

This needs to be an outlet for me. Like I said, I want it to relieve stress. So if I get overly concerned with the quality, it will become stressful and that would be counterproductive.

I worry too much about perfection. I worry too much about being good enough. So I need something that doesn’t demand quality from me. Some place where I can relax a little bit and share some thoughts and feelings without the fear of failure. Without the fear of being found wanting.

That phrase came from A Knight’s Tale. I like Old English writing. Well, that might not be accurate. What exactly is Old English? I mean, what time period covers Old English? That might be Shakespeare’s era. And of course he is considered one of the greatest writers of all time. But I won’t pretend to like his writing, or even understand it.

Okay I just asked ChatGPT when Old English period was and it said it spanned from the 5th century to around 1066.

So maybe that’s not what I meant.

Although I suppose A Knight’s Tale was set around that time period, right?

I don’t know why I’m talking so much about Old English. I just meant to say that I like older English writing. That’s why I like to say stuff like “without the fear of being found wanting”. Found wanting is a fun way to say that someone or something lacks something.

I just like the way they wrote in England a long time ago. By ‘a long time ago’ what do I mean? Maybe like the 1800’s. Jane Austen. Charles Dickens.

The Victorian Era is what I like, I guess. I forgot there was a name for that time period.

Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong century. Part of me thinks I would have fit better in England in the Victorian Era. But then the practical part of me realizes that’s nonsense. No electricity, no plumbing. I would have most likely been born in a poor family with little possibility to move up in social class.

So I really do appreciate living now.

There are just a lot of things I don’t like about now times.

Things are too fast. Too big. Too much information all at once.

I’m overstimulated 100% of the time.

It’s too much for me.

Do you ever feel that way?

There’s no time or space to just breathe and relax and rest. Not really. Even in my resting time my mind is caught up with all of the things it thinks I should be doing instead.

The unhealthy, but rather common, solution I turn to is to distract myself with video.

YouTube, Netflix, etc.

The thing is that I know a lot of it is just escapism. I get stressed and don’t want to face the stress or the fear or the trauma or whatever it is, so I escape it. Most people these days do that. It’s a hallmark of the modern era.


I heard someone say something once that has stuck with me. They said that our nervous systems are not designed to handle the amount of stimulation we give them these days. We know everything that’s going on in the world all the time. Social media has connected us to all information all the time. And that certainly has some benefits, but it also holds some poison, too.

Our nervous systems are bombarded with stimulation all the time and it can’t process it all so we get stressed and then we try to escape that stress.

We do this in various ways, ranging from mostly harmless to completely destructive. Food, video games, social media, tv and movies, sports, drugs, sex or pornography.

We have so many escapisms. And many of these things are not so bad in the right context and/or quantity. But when they are being used to escape pain, perhaps they can become unhelpful or even harmful.

But there’s something interesting I have noticed about our culture these days.


Escaping Escapes

We get so stressed and so overstimulated that we even try to escape our escapes.

I remember one night a few years ago when I had a bit of an epiphany. I was sitting at my cousin’s house and we were all watching a movie. Except that’s not true. There was a movie playing and we were all sitting in the room, but every single person was also playing on their phone. Nobody was actually watching the movie.

Everyone was escaping the escape.

I have noticed it in myself several times since then.

It’s a little crazy.

I mean, it is a clear indication of a lack of mental healthiness. We can’t even be present with our escapes.

But I think a big part of it is that the human nervous system is overwhelmed and can’t handle the stimulation.

And that is one reason I daydream about what life would be like living in Victorian Era England. It sounds fun to live as an English gentleman, wearing fancy bespoke suits and reading books or calling on a young lady for afternoon tea and sitting quietly in the sitting room discussing literature. I like the idea of the slowness of life then compared to now.

I like the idea of the propriety of society then. I know it would probably end up feeling a bit restrictive; it was probably a bit too much. At least if I traveled from life here and now to life there and then. But it appeals to me. I’m tired of our culture today that has absolutely no propriety. No sense of honor or dignity.

In Victorian era England they valued things that I still value today, as old fashioned as it may seem. They valued etiquette and manners. They valued moral integrity and virtue. They valued education and the arts. They valued subtlety in communication. People spoke with thoughtfulness and while I do appreciate being able to be direct and straightforward, I think we have lost the art of poetic communication. I don’t mean writing poetry. I mean communicating in a beautiful, even metaphorical way, with a deepness that requires engaged and intelligent thinking.

They valued chivalry. I love the idea of holding doors and of men protecting the honor of women.

I get that Victorian era propriety may have felt restrictive and perhaps it would have felt oppressive to me. But I really love some of these ideals and I wish we still valued them.

We do not.

Far from it.

Our society is practically the antithesis of Victorian era English society. We’re fast and bold and brash and unrefined. We’re self indulgent, self centered, and in a crisis of self identity. We hold no value for honor and etiquette. Nobody cares about presenting themselves in a respectable or honorable way.

But I do.

And so I have always felt out of place in this society.


Korea and the Victorian Era

I’m just coming to a realization. Perhaps that is why I feel so drawn to Korean culture and society. The modern day version of Korean society has changed a lot, but there are still threads of the culture of the past that I really fell in love with running through the modern cultural tapestry.

It’s the 선비 culture that really speaks to me. A culture that valued many of the same things that Victorian era England valued. Education, honor, moral integrity. Subtlety, thoughtfulness, and manners. It’s all but gone in the West.

You still see some of that today in Korea, though. People have manners. It matters how you present yourself in society. K-pop idols are generally a good example of that. They sit up straight, they are careful about what they say and how they say it. They try not to do or say anything inappropriate or improper. They are fairly dignified. The male idols are chivalrous.

Things have changed a lot over the recent years, but remnants of these things still remain. I mean, look at K-dramas. The male leads are often highly educated and very honorable. They are usually very chivalrous. The female leads are often refined and elegant. Not always, but you see it a decent amount. Traditional values underline most storylines.

These things are still alive in Korean culture today.

And certainly there are downsides. There is also quite a strong caste system in Korean society, where money and power are highly valued. Where social status rules. I know many Koreans feel oppressed by some of the expectations that society places on them. And there are a lot of heavy expectations placed on Koreans.

Same in Victorian era England.

So I’m not saying it’s perfect and that I want to import the entirety of that society into ours today.

But pieces of it? Absolutely.

And maybe that’s a big reason why I have fallen in love with Korea.

They still value propriety to some degree. It’s a place where maybe I could feel like I fit a little better. At least in some ways.

During the process of writing this post I have uncovered what I want to write about. I mean, it’s not refined or perfected. But I have a clearer picture of where I want to go with it.


Korea & Connection

I want to write about Korea and my experience learning Korean and learning about the culture. It’s such a beautiful country to me, filled with interesting and wonderful people. It has a long, rich and winding history, ornamented with deep wisdom and spiritual connectedness.

I just love it so much.

I also want to use my writing to create connection.

I am very passionate about connection. Deep and meaningful connection between people. I think it is absolutely vital for health and well-being. I think we are desperate for it now more than probably ever in the history of the world.

It’s strange. We are more connected than ever before, and yet probably more lonely than ever before. We are sharing information in quantities hard to fathom, but we aren’t really connecting on an emotional or spiritual level.

And we need to.

Brene Brown said:

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

I couldn’t agree more. Without it there is suffering.

There is a lot of suffering in the world today. And I would like to alleviate some of that. As much as I can.

So that will be my goal for this blog. I will talk about Korea a lot. And I will try to make connections.

We’ll see how it goes.

여러분 안녕하세요. 제 일음은 조쉬입니다. 저는 한국 사랑하는 미국 사람입니다. 연결들을 만들고 싶습니다.

(Hello everyone. My name is Josh. I am an American who loves Korea. I want to make connections.)

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