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Notebook on Cities and Culture’s Korea Tour: Stickers, Starcraft, Success with Danny Crichton

dannycrichtonNotebook on Cities and Culture‘s Korea Tour is brought to you by Daniel Murphy, David Hayes, and The Polar Intertia Journal, an outlet for artists and researchers documenting the urban condition.

In Seoul’s Sinchon district, Colin talks with Danny Crichtonresearcher and writer on regional innovation hubs and a contributing writer for TechCrunchThey discuss the hardest thing about being a Korean entrepreneur; what the concentration of Seoul has facilitated about Korean innovation; how he got from an interest in China “because it’s China” to a more fully developed interest in Korea; what happened to Sony, and thus Japan; how he responds to the current Korean of question, “Is this really a developed country?”; how people have stopped putting up with the country’s corruption, perhaps one of the drivers of its astonishing growth; how the ideas of the “heterodox” economist Ha-joon Chang apply to all this; why the concept of the subway-station “virtual grocery store” caught his eye; why Silicon Valley is so much more boring than Seoul; the significance of Kakaotalk and its abundance of purchasable “culturally ambiguous stickers”; why so many things, like playing Starcraft in stadiums, seem only to work in Korea; how Korea got a highway torn down in eight weeks; what thinking led to the new city of Songdo 43 train stops outside Seoul, and what it proves, negatively, about how “people want to live near other people”; why you can’t just “build innovation”; how he found both Hello Kitty Planet and a giant Bible; organic agglomeration versus the deliberate agglomeration the Korean government has tried to incentivize; the country’s distinctive capitalist-socialist “hybrid model”; whether the government can really pick winners; how much advantage hugeness gives a country these days; what he learned from Singaporean entrepreneurs, who have to go straight to the global market, and why the United States hasn’t had to think globally; his early exposure to Silicon Valley culture, and how he got interested in the connections between universities, industries, and government; how the strength of America’s universities, even today, remains the country’s strength; how the idea of “what Korea needs” still has more traction than the equivalent in the U.S., though less than it did in the past; whether Americans have begun to realize that they can find opportunities in other countries; why Americans cling so tightly to the decade or two after the Second World War as if it were the rightful state of things; what comparisons he can make between the challenges facing San Francisco and those facing Seoul; the “pragmatic urban development philosophy” in Seoul versus the “almost religious zealot” one in San Francisco; the difference between cities that think of the future as good, and those that don’t; why he thinks “a little bit about Thailand”; why strategically wrong choices don’t persist in Korea quite as long as in America; whether Korea can cure it’s “education fever” and resultant title culture; and the greater effect Korea’s laws have on its entrepreneurs than its culture does.

Download the interview here as an MP3 or on iTunes.

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