Social integration a true necessityA nation is supported by three pillars - the economy, environment and society. How much an individual earns or how big an economy gets does not determine an advanced country. A nation’s economy must evolve progressively, with benefits trickling down evenly among different generations, classes and realms. Environmental quality must be improved as a whole for the country to advance.
Recently, a study on socioeconomic development based on various data by Park Myung-ho, an economics professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, suggested that South Korea has a lot more work to do before it can truly be considered an advanced nation. Park ranked countries by their growth engines, social integration and environment.
Under his scale, Korea ranked 13th among 31 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of economic power for growth. Korea’s growth engine has slowed since 2000, but it continues to maintain a better pace than other members. The country, however, scored poorly in other areas. Korea was 24th in social unity and 25th in environment. The country has been developed on an unstable structure, with environmental and social progress lagging far behind economic advances. Korea is underdeveloped by environmental standards but is making fast strides - although social unity is below the OECD average and improving slowly.
A lack of tolerance and poor safety standards weighed down social unity. The country ranked the lowest for tolerance toward others, laws for the disabled and foreign workers, as well as the ratio of foreign residents. It also hit the bottom on the safety scale based on rates of unemployment, social expenditures on the elderly, suicide and the number of prison inmates. The data underscores the dark side of Korea’s glitzy economic and technological advances. The country has been entirely engrossed in making money without paying attention to the well-being and safety of individuals, especially for those left behind.
In her New Year’s address, President Park Geun-hye emphasized that the country needs to make a leap in economic progress. But without integrating society through balanced growth in the process, the country cannot sustain development. Policy makers must do more to ensure social fairness and safety.