Monday, September 26, 2011

Pyramid schemes

Last week the Joongang Ilbo had several articles about pyramid schemes in Seoul:
The companies operate as a combination pyramid scheme and cynical self-help cult: they lure young people with few opportunities in rural areas to Seoul with promises of a good job. When they get to the big city, they’re forced to borrow money from banks to give to the marketing companies. In exchange, they’re given indoctrination and basic consumer merchandise like vitamins, socks and wallets and told to go out and sell them - and get rich.

The young people are forced to live in appalling conditions and are brainwashed by constant lectures that take advantage of their isolation and psychological vulnerability. As a result, even when police manage to raid their residences and free them, they don’t want to leave. They continue to believe the lies told to them by the companies’ managers: sooner or later they will get rich as long as they struggle hard - and stay in Seoul.
Here is a list of the articles/editorials:

Finding better ways to make a buck
Toppling the pyramids
How poor students become slaves of the pyramids
The brainwashing of the slaves of the pyramids

The 'brainwashing' part reminds me of the this film, which was about the recruitment methods of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Oddly enough, the term 'brainwashing' entered the English language during the Korean War; on that topic, a book well worth reading is "Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War: An Oral History of Korean War POWs," which looks in part at how vilified Korean War POWs were, culminating in their depiction in the film (and novel) "The Manchurian Candidate."


Anonymous said...

I once came across the word "megachurch" while writing an article. I looked into it further and learned that about ten such "megachurches" exist in the world, and of those, FIVE are in tiny South Korea. I don't know if it's a cultural susceptibility to brainwashing or what, but those articles about brain washing and pyramid scams remind me of churches as well.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

brainwashing + church?

Sounds like the Moonies.