Why something normal becomes special

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Why something normal becomes special

After reading the article “Ottogi’s good deeds earn a Blue House invitation” in the July 28 edition of the Korea JoongAng Daily, I had mixed feelings. The article showed why Ottogi — despite its small size in the food manufacturing business — was able to receive the spotlight and earn a Blue House invitation as a special guest along with South Korean conglomerates, or chaebol.

The paper cited mainly two reasons: First, Ottogi’s Chairman Ham Young-joon transparently paid his inheritance tax, and second, Ottogi treats its employees fairly, guaranteeing most employees a permanent job instead of an underprivileged contract-based position.

Two opposing thoughts have crossed my mind. One was the admiration for Ottogi. Not to mention its generous treatment of employees, Ottogi partakes in diverse activities to fulfill its corporate social responsibility. It provides funding for children suffering from heart disease and donates money to disadvantaged people — as mentioned in the article — and is well-known for freezing the consumer price of its ramen for 10 years.

I think highly of Ottogi, as it constitutes a perfect example of “actions speaking louder than words” in a society full of companies that neglect their social responsibility.

On the other hand, I felt sad about the reasons why Ottogi got special attention. The article explained that “among Korea’s powerful conglomerates, wholly paying inheritance tax is practically nonexistent.” Shouldn’t companies all treat their employees fairly from the start? I wondered why something very normal becomes special in Korea.

These kind of abnormal scenes inundate many Korean TV shows. A lot of reality TV shows and dramas depict husbands who do housework as especially praiseworthy. But describing them as “being helpful” has a connotation that wives are originally responsible for household chores.

This type of social bias has confused me again. Why is housekeeping women’s work?

Isn’t it quite normal for a married couple to share the burden of house chores? If someone — or some company in this case — who does anything that is considered normal in other countries becomes special and praiseworthy here, it can hardly be a normal country.

*Senior at Underwood International College, Yonsei University.

Yee Jae-eun

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