Monday, December 21, 2009

Dissenting Voices in Korean Society

Democracy is new to Korea and they have come a long way in a very short time. The interest in government and what is going on is minimal: interest is on what will benefit the individual, family or the area? The idea of the common good is still not part of the vocabulary.

There was an opinion piece in the Chosun Ilbo where the writer expressed his dismay on the many disputes on projects that have been started by the government and the lack of ethical standards and moral sensitivity on these issues.

There is the usual deploring of problems: North and South, East and West, black and white, left and right, men and women... and no way out of the impasse. The writer says Germany was able to find a third way of acting. They were able to find a way to unite. He blames the Koreans for not understanding the problems they have and failure to come to some understanding of them in their own minds.They keep on looking at the government to solve the problems and do not see where their responsibilities are in these matters.

He concluded much is made about the inequality of educational opportunities but those who speak this way continue to send their children to private schools and overseas for graduate studies. This he feels is speaking out of two sides of the mouth: it is lying and phony.
What one can not do is asked of another. To criticize another for lack of virtue that one doesn't have, is cowardice. In a word he sees hypocrisy at work and this is doing damage to one's true self.

My reading of the article was that he was hoping Korea would come to a way of acting the Germans have made their own, thanks to Hegel. He would see differences evolve to a third way, after discussion and compromise. It is a dream that worked in Germany which he feels was a polarized country.

The article doesn't add much to the discussion on how to get people to agree. There are too many who are interested in their own personal needs and find it difficult to break out of this self imposed confinement. Much of the blame should be with the past and present governments. This is a reason the bishops and many priests have difficulty with some of the recent activities of the government: the government's interest in material development at the expense of the poor, without any efforts to persuade the citizens of the rightness of their projects.

In a recent editorial in the Catholic Times: "starting from the president there has to be an openness to the country and the people. The very meaning of the word 'president' signifies a chairperson, one who works to unify and balance the different opinions and claims. We have learned from our history, without communication, let alone harmony we will never proceed even one step forward. This is the time to humbly listen to the wishes of the people and with a humbler attitude to walk with the citizens."

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