Super Cities №106 - The Light-But-Dark View From Seoul

Brendan Hart

One Big Thing

From Nukes to Condos, North Korea and the United States deal

When challenged on the future of the North Korean people, Trump said that he had made a suggestion to Kim that he uses the country’s “great beaches” for real estate. “I said ‘boy, wouldn’t that make a great condo,’” Trump said. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean.”

Hart’s Comment

The #NorthKoreaSummit was a made-for-television production. It had fancy blacked-out cars, slickly edited propaganda videos, and high-stakes drama.

Through the smiles and tap-tap pats, I kept thinking about the people of Seoul, those who live and work within artillery range of someone who reportedly used anti-aircraft weapons to kill his uncle.

The South Korean capital is thirty-five miles from the North Korean border, and 121 miles — and a world away — from Pyongyang.

Home to 11 million people, Seoul is the core of the South Korean economic machine.

Some interesting data points on Seoul and South Korea:

  • Seoul’s population density is twice New York’s
  • Seoul has the world’s fourth-largest metropolitan economy
  • Seoul is the most wired city in the world
  • South Korea spends 4.2% of GDP on R&D (the U.S. spends 2.7%)
  • South Korean homes are 99.5% internet connected (U.S. homes are ~73%)
  • South Korea’s long-term unemployment rate is 1.5% (the U.S. is 15%!)
  • South Korea’s self-employment (entrepreneurship) rate is 25%

While South Korea’s focus on science and technology is impressive, no statistic is more powerful than this haunting picture.

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