Monday, December 3, 2012

Korean Car Wash

One of the great things about Korea is the industriousness of its people.  Where there’s a need, you’ll find a Korean filling that need.  Case in point: mobile Korean car wash. 
I snapped this photo coming out of church Sunday.  This Korean will wash your vehicle for under $10, while you worship.  The most surprising aspect of this free-market entrepreneurism is that it took place on a US military installation.  Army posts aren’t known for their laissez faire policies. 

Most Americans would scoff at performing such a menial task.  Additionally, unemployment insurance and SSDI provide strong incentives to avoid this type of work altogether.  And while the Koreans have a social securitysystem similar to ours, Korean pride runs deep.  Social customs and self-respect compel many Koreans to work, even into their older years, and even if that work is less than glamorous.

So, the next time you need a car wash, look no further than your local post Chapel on Sunday morning.  You can wash your car and your sins away, all in the same place.


  1. Korea is really quite incredible. They were severely underdeveloped right up to the middle of the 20th century, and then industry just took off. What's the story there?

  2. That's a good question, and I'm not really sure about the answer. The Korean War, which left the country devastated, ended in the summer of 1953. Now, South Korea has the 12th largest economy (PPP). Like you say, that's no small accomplishment.

    From the Koreans I've talked with, much of their success is due to copying western ideas, processes, systems, governance, etc. They haven't had to organically develop it; they saw what worked and adopted it. That and the Korean work ethic translates into a success story.

    That doesn't mean the Koreans have adopted all western standards. Theirs is a very customer service oriented society. You walk into Shinsaegae, a major, high-end department store, and one-third of the crowd are workers. Same goes for E-Mart, the Wal Mart or Target equivalent. You are greeted at every isle with assistance. It's quite amazing.

  3. That makes sense. South Korea received a lot of U.S. support given their strategic importance vis-a-vis the Russkies and Chicoms. Still, it's an interesting question. Mayhaps I'll find a book or something that talks about it.

    By the way, do they still do the Chonsae contracts there for apartment rental?

  4. Sorry, I had to look that term up. Are you referring to a two-year lease? Yes, they do. They also do one-years leases as well. But from what I can tell, all rents are paid in advance.

    We signed a two-year lease, and fronted the money, all in dollars. There are provisions that protect US interests should the Army move us, etc.

    Signing our lease was like something straight out of TV. I, along with my realtor, walked into the landlord's agent's office with over $107,000 in cash. I handed him the money, and he handed me the keys (actually we have an electronic keypad on our door). He pays the utilities up to 500,000 WON per month.

    My realtor gives me 3 bottles of water per month. She also bought a co-worker a couch. Strange, I know. But that's how they roll here. If I need anything (within reason), I call Alice and she delivers. She must be compensated handsomely by the landlord.

  5. I hired the Korean car wash man today. I paid 7,000 Korean WON (~$6.50)for a wash-while-you-worship car wash. He only wanted 6,000, but I didn't have exact change. The one thousand won tip was well deserved.

    Totally worth it!