Too much of a good thingToo many Koreans take advantage of nationalism. This remark by the Korea pop music producer, Park Jin-young, has created controversy.
Mr. Park claims that due to excessive nationalism in Korean society, many people unreasonably and groundlessly interpret hallyu, the Korean pop culture wave, as a form of Korean domination or superiority over other countries. His criticism has a point. We need to think seriously about excessive nationalism in our society.
In Korea, the concept of a unified people was formed when Mongolia invaded us at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty, according to historians.
Since then, nationalism has provided a firm defense mechanism through countless foreign invasions and the Japanese colonization, enduring a divided country and war.
In the modern era, Korea has been under the influence of foreign superpowers. This makes nationalism even stronger, and it continues to function as a fortress.
Foreign forces and figures have been excluded from the fortress, but within it, Koreans lose touch with the outside world.
When Japanese women admire a Korean actor, Koreans feel proud. But when Japanese movies or novels are introduced into Korea, an alarm goes off to warn the nation that Japanese culture is pouring in.
When foreigners wear traditional Korean costumes, Koreans are very happy, but Koreans were upset when a Korean pop singer wore Chinese costumes during his concert in China.
Nationalism as a defense easily turns into offense, but few notice that transformation. Koreans get upset when their fellow countrymen living in Japan are discriminated against, but they close their eyes when some Koreans exploit immigrant workers from the Third World.
We have to change. We do not mean that we should forget our identity as Koreans, but we need to scrap excessive nationalism. Too much nationalism damages diversity, a growth engine in modern democratic societies.
There have also been many cases in which citizens’ freedoms were infringed upon in the name of nationalism.
We should abandon the ideology of nationalism and instead equip ourselves with the skills and competence to become cosmopolitan. That is the way to make Korea not only survive but prosper in this global era.