[ANOTHER VIEW]Well-being craze not about health, but about wealth

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[ANOTHER VIEW]Well-being craze not about health, but about wealth

“Well-ving?” Every summer when I return to Korea, I never fail to be awed by the latest catchphrase to take Korea by storm. Actually, every time I visit, I’m in suspense wondering what it’ll be.
But “well-ving”? This phrase didn’t even sound remotely Korean ― or English. Parlez vous Francais?
After searching the Web, I learned that “well-ving” was the tragic Korean transformation of “well-being.” By now, it has become more than a mere catchphrase, but a way of life, and a very expensive one at that.
“Well-being” literally means what it says. A global trend that endorses mental and physical health, the “well-being” fad is virtually omnipresent. Apparently, however, it comes in varying degrees and shades.
In the States, where I attend college, the “well-being” philosophy is more an underlying mindset with which to approach life. So deeply ingrained, it is near second nature, and hence it is nothing worthy of flaunting.
American “well-being” followers are the ones who go for a morning jog while others slouch in bed. They’re the ones who manage to stay on top of the latest bestsellers while others think “The Da Vinci Code” is some artsy esoteric theory.
They’re the ones who make the professor sweat with their keen questions while the rest make the professor sweat out of frustration as he gazes at their dozing heads during lectures.
Small as it may be, that’s my take on American “well-being” culture. Rooted in a genuine concern for mental and physical health, it obtains its goal through constant challenge and nurturing.
I could not help but gape at “well-being’s” Korean version, which lay on the opposite side of the spectrum. Here, it had become the residue of a cultural obsession with a high-quality life.
Taken astray and its effect amplified, the “well-being” culture had swallowed a handful of Koreans, altered the business landscape and encouraged financial frivolity at a time of an economic slump. Do you know there’s a brand of “well-being” soju?
Call me cynical, but I think well-being is an ideal reached by a healthy and optimistic philosophy on life, not a state to be bought with countless products ranging from organic makeup to ion air conditioners.
Of course, I realize that these misguided “well-being” fans are only a handful of the Korean population. Still, I cannot help but be repelled by a media and marketing industry plastered with products labeled under this creed and a public that is so easily manipulated.

by Hur Aram
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