Republic of Korea
Long divided by disparate ideologies and the oppressive threat of war, Korea is a nation of opposites. It is a fully wired country and a land of spirits, a progressive marvel mired in prejudices, and a modern, economic powerhouse rooted in firm traditions.
You asked me what I can tell a newcomer about my homeland, for what little that word means to our profession. Allow me to start with the common perception.
In 2075, the Republic of Korea is still one of the Sixth World's technological centers, and it shows in the omnipresence of the Matrix in our everyday life. This is a land of the two queens: shaman and hacker. As the popular saying goes, the chaebeols and the megacorps rule the skyline, their people rule the streets, and their assets rule the shadows. Korea belongs to the rich and the fashionable.
There are some things I can and would like to address immediately. The first is that metahumans have never been unwelcome in Korea, acceptance is one of the few virtues we can sincerely claim. Some of Japan's refugees came here, and found a new home in sharp contrast to the old one. The grocer on my street corner is owned and staffed by a family of trolls, my barber is a human, the woman who manages my apartment is an ork and none of these things are questioned or viewed askance - and as someone raised within this culture of integration, I have never experienced otherwise.
Is it perfect? No, I wouldn't be naïve enough to suggest that no discrimination occurs or that equality does not exist on a slant. However, as far as I've been able to observe most of the perpetrators are outsiders, not natives of the peninsula. If you are hoping to start a career here, rest assured that your competency will speak louder than your metatype.
One topic that I feel is frequently glossed over or missed entirely is the arcane nature of Korea. It's impossible to overemphasize just how deeply this country is entrenched in magic. I couldn't tell you exactly why the peninsula serves as such a notable center of mana, an academic would be better suited to the task, but this country attracts mages. It creates them.
As I'm sure you've heard, the majority of Awakened in Korea are women – this is a phenomena that remains poorly explained, though several theories have been put forth. I would suggest, as have others before me, that the connection lies somewhere in our native shamanist tradition (mu, it's called), where women have always served the dominant role in the ceremonies and practices of this religion. Perhaps even in the days before the Awakening, there was something present within the women of Korea? A potential lying dormant? The mudangdeul (shamans, to the rest of you) are the cornerstone, the face, and the voice of our arcane culture. This carries over into the shadows. If you do come to Korea, you will notice that most of your female colleagues are magicians, in contrast to a wider variety of roles in other countries. I often find myself the minority.
There's more to this topic; I believe current studies have estimated that roughly 1% of the global population is Awakened or will Awaken as magicians, please feel free to correct me if that information is out of date, but in Korea the estimate is closer to 2% of the populace.
I was just reminded of something else. Technomancers.
I understand it's still a sensitive topic, and a misunderstood one. I won't philosophize about the nature of technomancy, since I can't claim to know very much about this art or about Emergence, but I assume that technomancers do experience similar misfortunes to their kind in other countries, which I assume is mainly due to the lack of unbiased information and the stigma of historical proof. Unfortunate, considering how readily the peninsula embraced magicians and the Awakening, but perhaps this is a sign that with time and patience, technomancers will one day be as accepted and understood as we are.
I do know from accounts that technomancers are not uncommon, though I don't believe I have ever made the acquaintance of one. Like the Awakened, they are supposedly more common here than in the rest of the world. A friend on mine believes that this is due to Korea's historic, deeply intimate relationship with technology. Notably, the Matrix is omnipresent in our lives, only the most remote and arcane locations in Korea are free from augmented reality - and even then, not by much. Korea was already a fully wired nation for years before the Matrix entered our lives, back in the days of division.
Magic and technology, heartily embraced, and then melded. I suppose you could say that the ground was laid, and the resulting crop has begun to yield.