Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

NYC’s Chinatown Fair: Video Games Arcade

Posted in China, Culture, Technology by Elliott Back on February 21st, 2011.

I suggest checking out this great post The Last Arcade in Chinatown from Scouting NY. It tells the story of the last arcade still operating in New York’s Chinatown district:

004 from Flickr user nycscout

At #8 Mott street, Chinatown Fair has only two reviews, but a respectable 4-star rating. The place has been there since the 50’s, and once featured a “World Famous Dancing & Tic-Tac-Toe Playing Chicken.” Go read the post to find out what that means!

Beijing’s “How to Interact with Foreigners” 2008 Olympics Propaganda

Posted in China, Culture by Elliott Back on July 22nd, 2008.

Posters are appearing in Beijing with etiquette instructions designed to smooth Chinese-foreigner relations during the upcoming summer 2008 Olympics. The series of three posters are great Olympics propaganda, combining Taoist courtesy with humorous anecdote and undecipherable Chinese caution.

Smile When Communicating with Foreigners

1) A Smile is Beijing’s Best Business Card — A Smile is the Whole World’s Propriety
2) Eight things not to ask Foreign Guests about:

- income or expenses
- age
- love life or marriage
- health
- someone’s home or address
- personal experience
- religious beliefs or political views
- what someone does

3) General Rules for Etiquette with Foreigners

- One’s manners and bearing, and image should be graceful
- Be neither humble nor haughty, but at ease and self possessed
- Seek commonalities while reserving differences, have reason and integrity
- Adapt to others’ customs, respect ethical code
- Abide by agreements, adhere to promises
- Be enthusiastic in moderation, foreigners are different from Chinese
- Be appropriately modest, be affirmed in yourself
- Do not ask private questions, respect others’ customs
- Ladies first, be gentlemanly
- Seat honored guests on the right, and get along harmoniously

Instructions for walking

When men and women are walking together, men should generally walk on the outside, and the person carrying things should normally walk on the right. Men should help women carry things, but must not help women carry their handbags. When three people are walking side-by-side, elderly should walk in the middle. Where there are many cars around, men should walk on the side of the sidewalk closer to the street. When four people are walking together, it is best to walk two-by-two.

Etiquette for Interacting with Handicapped Athletes

1) You should use polite and standard forms of address for handicapped athletes.
2) Try to keep as light as you can with handicapped overtones.
3) Pay attention to how you congratulate handicapped athletes.

Pay attention to avoiding taboo subjects, quit using bad platitudes, and do not use insulting or discriminatory contemptuous or derogatory terms to address the disabled. Say things such as, “You are amazing,” or “You are really great.” When chatting with the visually impaired, do not say things like “It’s up ahead,” or “It’s over there.” When chatting with athletes who are paraplegic in their upper body, do not say things like “It’s behind you.”

The posters appear to be created with the intent of warning Chinese not to be accidentally rude to the millions of international guests that will be arriving for the Olympics. Beijing has issued similar edicts before, warning Chinese not to spit in public, for example; these are more of the same. Those making the posters out to be instructions to avoid discussing “politically sensitive” topics are probably reading too much into them.

Hoang Thuy Linh’s “Mistake”

Posted in Culture, Sex, Vietnam by Elliott Back on October 28th, 2007.

The difference between America and Vietnam is summarized by the public reaction to Hoang Thuy Linh and Paris Hilton’s sex tapes. While Paris’s film shot the young American heiress to instant celebrity and cemented her hold on the American public, Hoang Thuy Linh’s television show was canceled. She gave an apology on national TV for violating her good-girl image:

“I made a mistake, a terrible mistake. I apologize to you, my parents, my teachers and my friends.”


An Associated Press article Vietnam Is Having Paris Hilton Moment quotes a few interesting Vietnamese on the issue:

  • “A good girl must keep herself clean until she is married,” Khanh said. “Thuy Linh should be condemned.”
  • charges of “spreading depraved cultural items”
  • “People will forgive him, but not her”
  • “it’s OK for a boy to have sex at that age, but not for a girl”
  • the episode underscored the “dark side of globalization” and warned that a flood of foreign influences “threaten Vietnam’s cultural foundation.”

In the 21st century, like all previous centuries, the morality police and gender double-standards live on. How long is it going to be before global morality becomes fully modernized?

China’s Intellectual Property Rights Attitude

Posted in China, Culture by Elliott Back on September 26th, 2007.

I just came across these photos of Meizu’s new M8 phone, which according to Shanghaiist is two-month-to-make exact copy of the iPhone’s user interface:

meizu1.jpg meizu2.jpg

Interestingly, the new UI was communicated through a BBS, “J. Wong, the company CEO posted the following pics on an internet BBS.” If you’re interested in side-by-side iPhone comparisons, check out the Engadget post.

I wish they’d done some innovation. It’s shameless copying, that’s all, and anyone can do that. The only differences are that it’s a Microsoft powered smartphone, as opposed to a Unix powered cell phone / mp3 player.

Harisu Wedding Photos

Posted in Culture, Korea by Elliott Back on April 15th, 2007.

Harisu, the famous male to female transgender singer, model and actress, married her boyfriend on May 19, 2007. Her boyfriend Mickey Jung is four years younger than her, as Harisu was born in 1975. He’s an aspiring Korean rapper.


Here are the photos from their wedding:







It doesn’t make sense to most people why someone would want to become a girl–Harisu was an average-looking boy before she had surgery–given the life of complications, surgeries, drugs, and emotional trauma it would bring. However, for Harisu and her new husband, I wish them the best of luck!

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