ARUN RATH, HOST:
It's time for The New and The Next.
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RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.
CARLOS WATSON: Arun, always good to be with you.
RATH: So I was very surprised to read that South Korea, a country I just tend to think of as very tech-friendly, it's actually a terrible place to start up a tech company. But that may be changing, right?
WATSON: Indeed, it is. South Korea has always been ahead of the game, as you were saying, technology-wise. They were the first country to go 100 percent broadband. All sorts of interesting electronics companies have come out of there, including Samsung. But they haven't had much of an entrepreneurial culture. One entrepreneur said to us: Starting a company is for people who can't find a decent job.
WATSON: But led by new president Park Geun-hye, she's ushering in something she calls the creative economy and is encouraging entrepreneurship with a $4 billion government investment fund, in effect.
RATH: Are Park's ideas catching on? Are they boring up to this idea?
WATSON: You know, increasingly, they are. It's been an interesting dance. You know, you see companies like the education technology company KnowRe, that now has been able to not just raise money from a place like the Silicon Valley, but actually raise domestic venture capital there in South Korea, there in Seoul. You've seen a couple thousand startups get going in the last few years; some of that, again, fueled by the money she set aside but some of that set up by some of the confidence that Koreans have seen as their culture's become popular abroad.
So whether it's been music - referred to as K-Pop - or increasing success with Korean fashion abroad, all of those things have made more and more young Koreans confident that their ideas can play on a global stage.
RATH: Interesting. Now, for a story a little bit closer to home - especially close to us at NPR West, here in Southern California - there's a strange phenomenon going on at Disneyland.
WATSON: Something very, very cool has happened, which is, you know, there have been Disney fans for years. But now, they've started to gather on a regular, coordinated basis wearing similar clothes at the parks. Some people would somewhat sniffly describe them as the gangs of Disneyland. But they think of themselves as clubs. You'll see several hundred people, sometimes even several thousand over the course of a week, get together and kind of celebrate their love of Disney.
RATH: And these clubs or gangs, they have names that play on specific attractions, right? They have different interests.
WATSON: They do. And sometimes they're on the attraction; sometimes, they are on a certain street; sometimes, they're on a certain section within Disneyland. So Walt's Misfits are - one of the names. Jungle Cruisers are yet another; the Neverlanders.
RATH: So do they have gang signs or, you know, are there gang initiations like horrible things a fairy has to do to gain her wings, or anything like that?
RATH: I just want to keep running with this. I've got about 10 more jokes.
WATSON: Absolutely not, although there have been numerous rumors to that effect, as they become more and more popular. No. Instead, what you tend to see, you see a lot of vests with insignia on the back. And increasingly, what's interesting is, it's almost become almost a little bit of a fraternity and sorority, where they will do public service with and for each other. So talk about the rise of geekdom - there's a very LA and Disney-friendly version of it.
RATH: Nice. Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we talked about, at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.
WATSON: Arun, good to be with you.
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