Six years of Norwegian life: the impressions and observations of a Taiwanese reporter and father
Over the last few years, the world has been gripped with enthusiasm for Scandinavian style in fashion, interior design and food, not to mention their unique outlooks on life. But while everyone knows about the Danes and their hygge, Finland’s sisu, and Swedish lagom, the philosophy of life in Norway – the number one country on the UN Human Development Index for the last three years – remains relatively obscure.
When his wife was assigned a diplomatic post in Norway, Lee Hao-Chung migrated there with her – and quickly discovered that the pace of life was very different from the Pacific island he knew. With a reporter’s keen eye for detail, he describes his initial struggles to integrate and his interactions with assorted representatives of Norwegian society, bringing these encounters vividly to life with a charming warmth and wit.
When the price of Norwegian paper soared in the twentieth century, the government subsidized the newspaper industry to guarantee diversity of opinion and uphold freedom of speech. They drew up a prison system that revolves around the principles of reeducation and rehabilitation. Norway is a leader in the Gender Inequality Index and Gender Development Index: there are women at the head of each of the seven major political parties, over forty percent of the board members at the country’s hundred largest corporations are women, and fathers receive twelve weeks of fully-paid paternity. These are some of the facts Lee considers when he trains his focus on the broader picture of Norwegian life, in an attempt to define the characteristics that make this nation unique.