[LETTERS to the editor]Koreans must embrace globalist valuesSince entering global society, South Korea has grown economically, politically and culturally. In the past 30 years, South Korea’s economy has to the 11th biggest in the world. South Korea’s democratic political system is flourishing. The country successfully hosted the Olympics in 1988 and the World Cup in 2002. Many South Koreans have become leading global figures in policy, sports and entertainment. Koreans are proud that Ban Ki-Moon became the United Nation’s Secretary General. However, despite these accomplishments, South Koreans still have some notions which are not suitable for the globalized era.
First and foremost, South Korea has shown extreme nationalism for a long time, which might be desirable as it invigorates Korean people’s sense of identity and pride. However, South Koreans’ nationalism is somewhat obsessive. In the recent Virginia Tech campus mass shooting, most South Korean people felt guilty because the lone gunman was a Korean immigrant named Seung-hui Cho. Moreover, when it comes to dealing with North Korea, South Korea usually approaches the North as a brotherly duty rather than, say, a humanitarian issue. This obsessive nationalism is dangerous because it can end up as ultra-nationalism, such as Nazism in Germany and totalitarianism in Japan. South Korea should restrain its nationalism.
Furthermore, racial discrimination towards mixed-raced people still lingers in South Korea. Korea has been a one-blood nation for thousands of years, thus, Koreans have long regarded mixed-raced people as strangers. Some people might think that famous Korean mixed-race celebrities, such as Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward and Daniel Henney, a handsome model, have changed Korean people’s stereotypes on mixed-race people. However, more than 35,000 mixed-race people are struggling in South Korea. Mixed-race children have a hard time adapting to school life here because of discrimination. While many of them tend to enter foreigners’ schools, many others can’t can afford to do so; many mixed-race people also have a hard time finding jobs. Although South Koreans view France and the United States unfavorably for racism, they themselves also discriminate against mixed-race people. Koreans should eliminate racism in South Korea.
South Korea is known for short-term enthusiasm. During the World Cup in 2002, almost all Koreans rushed out on the streets wearing red T-shirts and cheering. They seemed to be crazy about soccer, but after the end of the World Cup, such fervor suddenly disappeared. When it comes to movies, it is no different. The film “The Host” attracted more than 10 million viewers in South Korea alone. However, some say that is a result of people’s tendency to follow others without thinking. Koreans think they will be isolated if they do not share identical interests with others. This is undesirable because this tendency also instigates short-term enthusiasm in our society. South Koreans also reflect this short-term trend when there is a national election for president and mayor of the city or when there are international issues that are believed to be unjust to the South Korean people. This tendency seems to strengthen bonds among the people, but in the end it is empty. Hence, Koreans should reconsider their enthusiasms.
To conclude, even though South Korea has grown in many aspects, South Koreans still have to work on their tendencies for obsessive nationalism, racism and short-term trends. In the globalized era, South Korea has already become a leading country. However, South Koreans’ mindset still lingers in the 1960s. Times have changed. As national goals are set for infrastructure and policy, people’s conceptions should follow these goals as well. In order to prosper in modern international society, people should reconsider the old and what’s at odds in the seemingly well-developed South Korean society.
Park Sun-jung, a senior at Goyang Foreign Language High School