[Outlook]Strength to be proudI recently traveled in India, Thailand, Vietnam and China for around 10 days to take pictures in the factories belonging to Sung Shin New Material Co. The schedule was tight and the weather sizzling. However, Koreans and the workers there looked happy enough. I am sure that is because the company and workers share the same goal: building a better future.
It is cowardly if one does nothing but blame difficult conditions. Wherever we go, we are not going to find places as comfortable as home. Koreans have made the impossible possible, just as our seniors in modern history did. Koreans were born with genes that exercise strength especially when things are difficult, and this characteristic is working in every corner of the world.
A TV commercial shows people saying, “It’s not hard” and “I don’t feel lonely.” That was true in reality. The commercial shows a worker’s face full of sweat, a researcher who pushes a car stuck in mud and a Korean businessman with ice on his moustache.
We are certainly great people of a great country.
Cheap labor is not the only thing we have. Koreans are making a good impression on locals in those South Asian countries, making an effort to reach coexistence and prosperity. They understand local culture and try to assimilate with them. This mature attitude reveals our companies’ capacity to pursue globalization. Koreans want to build good partnerships with other countries.
Companies have an important role to play as civil diplomats. They spread our spirits and culture to other countries. Culture, like water, runs from a higher place to a lower one. Every individual’s behavior is an important factor to form a Korean model.
Small things can form a negative image about our country. An executive of a company says he has refrained from going to entertainment establishments for more than five years. That is not to give a bad impression about Koreans. Koreans don’t reign over other people but sympathize with other people and local people are moved. Once having become friends, we think of our friends as families. Thanks to this trait, many conflicts have been settled and people can embrace one another.
Korea came in seventh in the Beijing Olympic Games, where more than 200 countries competed. Our country has many talented people in many fields. Diligence and integrity have become our symbols. Products made in Korea are regarded as quality items. Korea’s status is high outside the country, although Koreans back home might not realize it.
We need to look back on ourselves. We should get rid of self-pity and hopeless feelings. We should be confident instead. Many difficulties lie ahead but Korea is not a weak country. The country is enjoying its most prosperous time in history, but the people don’t feel proud of the country.
If we don’t treat ourselves well, others won’t treat us well either. We need to treasure our great country.
Although the Olympic Games are over, China still shows the events that its athletes won.
Congratulating the success of the games, the country encourages the people to feel national pride. It may be a way to force people to be patriotic. China is good at making small things look like something more meaningful, turning something that we might not considered as so significant into something of epic proportions.
When we feel confident and proud of our country, we can produce something big.
If we negotiate a better position, we won’t fail to get what we want. Our competence will be recognized if we truly have the talent.
When we exercise our power based on confidence in a fair way, our country will be developed even farther. We are Koreans. We are great people. Great people don’t fight within their country. Our rival is the world.
The people who win in the world are truly great.
by Yoon Kwang-joon
*The writer is a photographer. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.