Red pepper drying in the sun.
I already walked a lot the last couple of days, and did another three hours walk this morning. That seems to have been enough for the day -- my back starts aching. Just another couple of pictures I took today.
Huge display of Chinese ceramics for sale
The girl in the Tourist Office said that I should go to Seoul for ceramics. Only 20 minutes by subway (on the map it looks a lot longer though). But she warned me: it is for tourists and expensive. If I wanted the real stuff I should go to another city, 100's of miles from here. So I decided not to go there, I expect to see something very similar to the display in the picture.
In a local shop I saw two nice small green cups. They looked expensive too. Unfortunately the shop was closed.
The welcome banners at the hotel.
Some economic figures
There were some figures in the Korean Times about the (South) Korean economy. The US has pressured China to increase the exchange rate of the yuan by 25%. That would increase the value of the won by about 10%, and would make it much more difficult for Korea to compete on price. On the other hand, there is now fierce competition from China. Another point of worry is that the OPEC has announced to decrease oil production by about 3%. Again, Korea being the 4th biggest oil importer in the world, the economy is feared to suffer.
Another article gave an impression about the distribution of wealth, based on income tax figures from 2001. There are 34,000 people with an income of more than 100 million won, and 1.09 million with an income less than 10 million won (classified as "poor" in the newspaper). Around 425,000 have an income in the range of 10 and 40 million won. Unemployment has dropped from nearly 7% in 1998 to 3.4% (770,000 people) in 2003. Labour market participation is 61,5%. Which leaves only a couple of questions unanswered, such as how many inhabitants does Korea have and what is the average income...
PS the exchange rates today are 1151 won for the dollar and 1322 for the euro. So 100 million won income is about 75,500 euro.
Stories about North Korea (sorry, should say People's Republic) always give me this feeling of absurdity. What about this one: "mobile phone sales have increased sharply". Which means that around 2000 mobile phones have been sold in North Korea, there is only one model from Motorola costing about $1300, whereas the average income per capita is $762. How big will the market be for mobile phones there, 20,000? Now imagine how much it costs to build a mobile network that covers several cities. Such networks only become economically viable from 100,000 subscribers onwards...
The north is importing new technologies, but only the political elite can afford to use them. And even then it is heavily subsidised.