SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG

'Wundersocks' With Your Lederhosen: Oktoberfest Gift For Men With Scrawny Calves

Herbert Lipah, the quirky owner of the "Lederhosen Madness" Oktoberfest speciality store, features a unique product made for men with low self-esteem about skinny or saggy shanks.

Oooh: look at those calves! But are they real?
Oooh: look at those calves! But are they real?

Worldcrunch NEWSBITES

MOOSACH - Looking embarrassed, the customer pulls down his pants. Standing there in his underpants and shirt he tries to climb into a pair of Lederhosen as fast as he can. Welcome to "Lederhosenwahnsinn" – which translates into Lederhosen Madness -- Herbert Lipah's second-hand store. It doesn't have a changing room but does offer a selection of 2,500 pairs of vintage Lederhosen. In front of the store in Moosach, 8 km (5 mi) outside Munich, Germany, is a sign that reads: "Last Lederhosen store before the Autobahn."

Inside, thongs with smutty texts printed on them hang from the ceiling. A postcard selection containing more than a few naked women lines the walls. And in the middle of all this is Herbert Lipah himself, barefoot and shirtless, wearing Lederhosen of course and serving his many customers. "You should buy those, they look good," he calls to one customer. "I'll take your wife in exchange," he jokes. He gets another customer a cold beer from the fridge of the crowded small general store.

Some people call Lipah a nutter. Others (including the man himself) say he is simply an authentic Munich Original. Known for his snappy line of patter, Lipah claims he's done a lot for the area. "All the people walking around in traditional Bavarian clothes, that's down to me," he says.

When Lipah opened "Lederhosenwahnsinn" 17 years ago, locals were giving it three months before it went out of business. Now a lot of those skeptics have become customers. But Lipah couldn't survive on what locals bring in, and luckily he doesn't have to: the store has become a cult destination for the dramatically increasing numbers of fans of the traditional Bavarian leather shorts, gays, tourists. The lead-up to Oktoberfest is a peak time of year.

Lipah buys new, old, long, short, light and dark brown, mended and even very worn Lederhosen. Arranged on hangers by size, they are not price-tagged but he knows just by looking at a pair what he wants for them – between 200 and 2000 euros. The older they are, the higher the price. The oldest pair dates back to 1817. On sight, Lipah can tell you exactly where a pair of Lederhosen comes from, how old it is and what it's worth. Many people bring him old pairs hoping he'll buy – some are refused, others are real collectors' items dating back to grandparents and discovered in an attic somewhere.

But Lipah is not only a collector and store owner, he's an inventor: of the "First Royal Bavarian Calf Implants." The idea came to him because he says in his line of work he meets many men with serious self-esteem issues due to their skinny shanks.

Today, he exports what he calls his "kind of wonderbra for men" to far-away places – including Scotland – so men everywhere who lack the bulging calf muscles it takes to bring off a pair of Lederhosen (or a kilt) with full panache don't have to miss out. All they have to do is slip one of Lipah's foam rubber patented pads into each knee sock.

Read the full article in German by Lisa Sonnabend

Photo - holmanphoto

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Society

Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum

-Analysis-

SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.


It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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