DER SPIEGEL (Germany), THE GUARDIAN (U.K)
BERLIN - This is not your daddy's "video game."
Privacy activists in Berlin are protesting against surveillance video cameras by destroying and debilitating them, as part of a social game where you earn points for every CCTV taken down.
The Guardian spoke to the anonymous creator of the so-called "Camover" movement. "Although we call it a game, we are quite serious about it: our aim is to destroy as many cameras as possible and to have an influence on video surveillance in our cities. We thought it would motivate inactive people out there if we made a video-invitation to this reality-game."
photo: Black Bloc Fetish via Tumblr
The rules of this game are simple enough: form a crew and think of a name. Know each other's limits and abilities. Train, especially for unexpected events. You can never be too fit. Begin with something easy, like stickering. Post the videos to YouTube expand=1] for entry to the competition.
Each kind of camera and each form of destruction is worth a certain number of points. The group offers suggestions on "methods of attack" that range from the basic sticker over the lens and plastic-bagging, to laser pointing, cable cutting and block dropping (climb onto the roof of where the camera is, drop stones or blocks and see the camera destroyed in a shower of sparks).
The group’s site has been taken down, but its new official blog explains the rules and guidelines in German, English and Polish. In the FAQ section, the first question, and most obvious, is “Why destroy CCTV cameras?”. The answer given is that the "gaze of the cameras does not fall equally on all users of the street but on those who are stereotypical predefined as potentially deviant, or through appearance and demeanor, are singled out by operators as un-respectable."
The usual methods of getting things done by the government -- petitions, signatures and letters -- only works to a certain degree. In the group’s ‘motivation’ page on the blog they declare that rapists and other criminals are not deterred by CCTV cameras, yet the government install more and more after each incident. After a failed bombing in Bonn last December, authorities called for an increased amount of CCTV cameras as Der Spiegel reported that one thing the cameras didn't see was who left the gym bag on the platform in the train station.
The winner of the game, according to The Guardian, does not get a trophy or a year's supply of spray paint but the chance to be in the front line of a protest that will take place on February 16. The game ends three days later, to coincide with the start of the European Police Congress.
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.
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
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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