Toward the center of the world

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Toward the center of the world

Korea is the only country in the world, which established democratization and industrialization through “compressed economic development” from the ruins of World War II. Our gross domestic product and trade volume have surpassed $1 billion, and we became one of seven advanced countries which comprize the “2050 Club” - a group of countries with the population over 50 million and the GDP per capita over $20,000.

In an effort to boost economic growth, the Korean government chose strategies of allocating its limited resources to a handful of companies and blessed them with various preferential treatments. As a result, Korea ranks at top levels on numerous economic related criteria and takes pride in its prominent accomplishments such as its globally recognized large conglomerates, Samsung and Hyundai.

The market dominance and disproportionate influence of a few conglomerates have been increasing. Meanwhile, Korea is also ranked quite low, and often the lowest, in various social issues among the OECD countries. These are seen as side effects of practices from its government-controlled economic policies. It is dangerous for a nation facing threats from North Korea that our economic success has deepened income disparity. It may damage capitalism by influencing highly educated young people without good jobs to become hostile forces against our market economy.

We are at the critical moment when we must work together to seek solutions and wisdom to maintain a viable community. We Koreans - whether rich or poor - must have hopes and dreams for success on a level playing field. We should embrace underprivileged members of our society and help each other.

In order for us to be a genuinely trusted advanced country, we need to present a new solution for an advanced economy:

First, we should fine-tune our national system to a higher level and operate transparently, mending the problems in areas where we rank the lowest.

Second, we must restore respect for the law and reduce people’s tolerance of corruption in congruence with our level of economic development. We must establish fair trade practices enabling market capitalism to function properly.

Third, instead of being focused on ourselves, we should embrace other members of the global community and move toward global leadership. We must have a global perspective and open our arms to welcome talented individuals from around the world. We must actively participate in the global society not only in terms of economics but also philanthropic matters.

Fourth, we should create an environment where the outstanding spirits and talents of Korean women are encouraged to thrive. There are Korean women who demonstrate their excellence in sports such Pak Se-ri and Kim Yu-na. Women can contribute more in building trust in society as they are the ones equipped with oxytocin, which is associated with nurturing.

If we can create a level playing field, the Koreans - known to be one of the best educated work force - would be able to foster new growth in the globalized world. If we can find ways to utilize our geographical location, surrounded by powerful big countries to our advantage, it is not a dream that Korea becomes one of the Group of 2.

by Kim Sung-eun, Professor at the Kyung Hee University School of Management
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