[Letters] Changing diplomatic direction
Recently, Park Geun-hye visited Mongolia and met the new president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, and discussed economic and political cooperation between the two countries. The fact that a Korean politician visited Mongolia is significant, in that South Korea is more actively interacting with the underdeveloped world, as it tended to pay less attention to such countries before.
South Korea is now one of the world’s largest economies. A paradigm shift is needed for Korean diplomacy, and such attempts as visiting Mongolia are signs of change. As Korea was once a minor country which relied on the developed world, now Korea should become one of the leading nations.
However, there seems a long way to go to reach such a stance. Korea is still too ignorant of smaller countries.
For example, Korea’s police department has few speakers of non-major languages and cannot fulfill the increasing demand. Or, there are too few Arabic speakers, and some corporations have trouble finding experts.
With the rise of immigrants in Korea, the government should fund the training of experts to meet those demands. Yet, by just focusing on “English-first” policies, the government shows it does not care about domestic regional experts.
How can Korea possibly have a tight relationship with Mongolia without Korean experts on the country? Shouldn’t Korea invest some portion of money here rather than just on English experts?
Also, Korea should take care of its own people. “Ugly Koreans” is an expression that is often heard of Koreans who visit poorer countries and conduct crimes. They defraud people of money by selling “the Korean Dream.”
Just a few months ago, some Koreans were arrested in Mongolia for making fraudulent work visas to work in Korea. The “rainbow” image that Mongolia had of Korea changed into a “nation of hatred.” Roughly 700 innocent Mongolians with the Korean Dream lost everything. And this happens all over the world, by Koreans. What did the Korean Embassy in Mongolia do when this happened? If this happened in a more powerful nation like the United States, would the Korean government be this passive?
Without a change in the government’s attitude, there will be no change in the paradigm. Sending aid and taking some photos will not help to enhance the relationship with underdeveloped countries. Rather, Korea should train experts in these regions, and learn to understand them. We should no longer just care about wealthy English-speaking cultures.
Korea should also control Koreans working in those regions, make sure they play by the rules and do not give Korea a bad name.
The relationship with the developed world will be more vital in the future. Rather than wanting them to change, we have to change ourselves. Unless this happens, the visit of Park to Mongolia is just a political show.
Kang Yoon-seung, student
at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies