Bean sprout soup and the banality of Cyworld imagesBoredom evokes a frightening force in humanity.
In Korea, technology often fills the space by providing high-tech toys for killing time. There are virtual pets, and now the frenzy over Cyworld, an online blog with more than a quarter of the South Korean population signed up as members.
The Web site has virtually changed the lifestyle of many young Koreans. It’s changed the way we write, travel and shop.
It’s taught us the pleasure of projecting our fantasies through images. It’s also pointed to the subtle gap between the ways we present ourselves to strangers and who we really are.
It’s a strange world. My friend’s last words shortly before closing her blog on Cyworld were, “Bye, bye Cyworld. Bye, bye the world of dissembling.”
Maybe it’s time to come clean.
Out of all the great intentions attributed to the site as a source for sharing fabulous news among users and for narrowly being in touch with friends to whom you are too careless to even send an e-mail, Cyworld clearly serves its purpose for users. If you are “a Cy addict,” either you are extremely bored or you are dying to show off.
But another thing Cyworld has changed is the way we view food. Since Cyworld came on the scene, trendy restaurants in Korea have become a pandemonium of young people aiming their digital cameras at a bowl of salad and a glass of Coke.
On some occasions it’s become common etiquette to hold your chopsticks for a few seconds to give people time to take pictures of the food when dishes arrive at the table.
The problem with food images on Cyworld is that they are often filled with tasteless cliches mimicking magazine photos. A lot of it comes down to dishes slathered with cream, like a latte topped with whipped cream.
What’s strange about it is that after you look at several of these images, the more interesting ones are those that are trite and banal. For example, a picture of a fried egg is far catchier than one of roasted snails. A bowl of bean sprout soup seems more inventive than a cliched, idealized image of lobster meat. The banality takes you to an artful state.
That raises another question about Cyworld. Why food?
It’s around, and we eat it. As an image of the banality of everyday life, it’s more appealing than some others.
Sadly, Cyworld never liberates you from boredom completely. In most cases it doesn’t deepen relationships either. So why do we do it? Maybe because we crave instant pleasure.
The scientists should have known that their great ideas, which were supposed to enrich our lives and free us from loneliness, are actually out of touch with real life, alienating us even more from our loved ones.
How to Cook
Bean sprout soup
Ingredients (for 3 servings): 100 grams of beans sprouts, 1 green onion, 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic, 6 cups water, a pinch of salt, sesame oil.
1. Remove the tails from the bean sprouts.
2. In a pot, combine water, beans sprouts and salt. Bring to a boil.
3. After five minutes, add crushed garlic and sliced green onion.
4. Cook five to 10 minutes. Serve drizzled with sesame oil.
by Park Soo-mee
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