[Letters] Korea will never become third-rate

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[Letters] Korea will never become third-rate

I could not agree more with many of the points made in Moon Chang-keuk’s viewpoint, “How to become third rate” (sic). “The economic battlefront is not the only place where we’re losing. I can’t shake the sinking feeling that our country’s entire system is crumbling.”

Having lived abroad for many years, I was shocked upon my return to see how Korea had changed. My wife put it simply: “This isn’t the Korea I grew up in.”

It is my opinion that a significant number of the problems that Korea now faces are due to an almost complete disregard for the law.

Lawmakers brawling in the National Assembly, politicians constantly involved in scandals and bribery, and even former presidents funneling millions of dollars overseas to buy houses, etc. At the local level, it’s very discouraging to deal with some people in business.

On many instances I’ve had people boast to me how they got the better of someone in a business deal by doing something shady, if not down right dishonest.

This attitude pervades Korea so deeply that I’m very concerned for the future of this country. Fortunately, I’ve been able to make a significant number of friends here that have the complete and total antithesis of this attitude.

People like my friends (and their children) will be the saving grace of Korea. The same goes for the majority of my students’ parents. I hear horror stories about hagwons, and I wonder how I have never experienced anything even close to the problems I’ve read about. Consequently, I have learned over the years that I am not only teaching my students English, but also citizenship.

Once I realized that I was doing this, teaching became so much more important to me than just a way to make a living.

I want to encourage all people that are concerned about Korea’s future, especially those of us who are here to teach, to focus on teaching citizenship, manners and morals to Korea’s future generations. If all of us here do this, Korea will never become third-rate.


Chris Yu-Rhee,

Busan, Korea

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