What Is This?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Hint: It involves South Korea, agriculture, television, and the geopolitics of love.

What you see above is the home of one Mr. Lee Si-kap, a farmer in rural South Korea, who is said to have the most operational satellite dishes in the whole country—85, which net him over 1500 channels. Clusters of neglected satellite hardware are a common feature across the globe, piping international television into much of the developing world. But this isn't the developing world—it's South Korea. What gives?

As it turns out, satellite dishes are undergoing a sort of renaissance in the country on account of a recent influx of young ladies from Vietnam, China and the Philippines. Here's the deal: the apparent trend is for South Korean women born in the countryside to move toward larger cities, leaving rural towns without a young female population, and by extension farmers, tethered to their land, without any ladies to marry. Immigrants are filling the void, and they want TV channels from home.


Lee Si-kap, aside from having an absurd number of dishes himself, is spearheading a campaign to get all these recent arrivals the equipment they need to remain connected to their home countries via television, and has become something of a national celebrity for it. If the whole situation weren't a bit strange in the first place, this would be a sweet story. Ah, forget it—it is. [NYT]