[FOUNTAIN]Self-esteem a measure of national prideThe more you punish yourself, the more you might achieve if self-torment results in ability and diligence. However, if self-torture oppresses your self-esteem, you will not feel the joy of achievement.
It is unfortunate for not only the individual but also the nation. Professor Kim Jae-on of the University of Iowa published a paper titled, “A Comparative Study of National Pride and Identity of Koreans.”
He compared the psychology of Koreans with the citizens of 34 nations around the world in 2003.
Perception does not always match reality, and that discrepancy might be the source of energy in life. Ireland and New Zealand ranked 25th and 26th among surveyed nations in actual national power, but their citizens were listed in second and fourth place respectively in how proud they are of their international influence.
They are like the people who brag more than what they actually are yet people around them do not respect them as much.
The case of Venezuela is more interesting. While Venezuela is growing rapidly just like other South American countries, the gap between the rich and the poor is extremely large. Yet, Venezuelans have the most pride in their country’s impartiality among the surveyed nations. The positive national traits ― thanks to the sunny climate of the south ― could explain the pride, but if there is an individual with the characteristics of Venezuela among us, it might be hard to understand him.
Japan and Germany rank second and third in national power. However, Japanese pride in their history ranked 27th and that of Germany was 34th, last in the list. The history of atrocity and defeat in World War II constitute the tragic subconscious of the Japanese and Germans.
Koreans and Italians also have low self-esteem. Korea’s national power was ranked at 8th place (actually 10th place because China and France were excluded from the survey). Italy is at 5th place (in effect, 7th in the world). However, the pride of Koreans and Italians in regards to international influence came in at 31st and 29th place respectively.
Korea has long been bullied by its neighbors, and Italians seem to develop a self-tormenting perception of themselves as the inferior descendants of the glorious Roman Empire. Just as the individuals who overcame a self-tormenting view on life, the citizens of Korea, Japan and Italy should try to look at their merits consciously.
However, misrepresenting the mistakes of the past as the Japanese have done lately is dangerous and wrong.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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