[FOUNTAIN]Globalization’s discontents

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[FOUNTAIN]Globalization’s discontents

On Nov. 17, 1994, President Kim Young-sam visited Sidney to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and proclaimed that Korean would embrace segyehwa, or globalization. He explained that he had confirmed at the APEC meeting that the opportunities for the future of Korea exist in globalization. The citizens, who had thought that the administration was pursuing internationalization, initially found the pledge for “segyehwa” absurd and unexpected. The term itself was unfamiliar to Koreans. Some joked that segyehwa would be accomplished if we push hard [segye] for internationalization.
The next year, President Kim organized the Segyehwa Committee and announced a vision and strategy for segyehwa. The term segyehwa was used as a proper noun instead of “globalization.” However, the dream of segyehwa ended in a puff of smoke by late 1997, when the country was ensnared in a financial crisis. The economy was completely devastated. Probably because of its association with the economic crisis, segyehwa has failed to leave a favorable impression on Koreans.
Segyehwa is the process of integrating the world into a single system. It implies a global village without the artificial frontiers that existed between nations and regions on goods, services, capital, labor and information. MIT Professor Lester Thurow, the author of “The Zero-Sum Society,” argues in another book, “Fortune Favors The Bold,” that not participating in the process of globalization is practically choosing poverty. New terms and phrases, such as “global governance” and “cosmopolitics,” have been recently coined.
However, critics equate globalization with a 21st-century form of imperialism. By representing the interests of capitalist giants in the United States and Europe and having the cultures of developing countries and Third World nations come under control, it causes national characteristics to diminish. Some scholars harshly label globalization as “McDonaldiza-tion,” after the U.S. fast-food giant.
Busan, the host city of the APEC meeting, is concerned about anti-globalization protests. Domestic and foreign civic groups are planning to stage a large-scale demonstration in Busan to show how strong anti-globalization sentiment is worldwide. The National Police Agency has prohibited 998 foreigners with a history of participating in anti-globalization protests from entering the country. Following the Chilean capital of Santiago, where the APEC meeting was held in November 2004, Busan will become a site for the showdown between globalization and its opponents. The protestors can express their opinions, but we don’t want to see mayhem and physical violence.


by Ko Dae-hoon

The writer is a deputy city news editor for the JoongAng Ilbo.
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