Monday, June 11, 2012

What Is Success?

The present problems of Korean society are clearly evident to all, a columnist in one of the daily papers points out, and solutions are not easily found. To illustrate the complexity of a particularly troublesome problem, he relates a recent conversation with a businessman who told him he had been telling his  third-year high school son, repeatedly, to study hard so he will be able to get into a good school, get a good job, marry a beautiful woman, buy a nice house, and live the life of a prince. His son answered: "Dad, what is the value of  graduating  from a first class college, succeed in business, and end up in prison? Whether you have money and power makes little difference, when there are many who are under suspicion of corruption and end up in prison. Is that what it means to do well in life?"

The father said he was severely crushed  on hearing these words from his son. His many efforts to help his son break through the competitiveness of society and succeed left him feeling like a first class snob. He did have other words he could have used: be mature, humble, have good sense, dignity, respect, sacrifice for the country, love for the family. However, he felt these words would not have been helpful in the jungle of competition we now have in society--so our children only hear words such as  "study and don't play games."

What do our children see watching the news on TV? he asks. Usually another 'dirty hand' picked up by the police for questioning, big names in society who give bribes and receive them; bankers who are picked up for embezzlement and breach of trust; those close to the president, politicians, and company officials  who are making prison seem like a second home. 

Korea, the columnist says, is high up on the list of corrupt countries in the world. According to a Hong Kong research group that compared countries in Asia, Korea is listed as 11th out of 16 countries (with the 16th being considered the most corrupt.). Korean integrity in government  was shown to be less than Thailand's, which was 9th on the list, and Cambodia's, which was 10th. And in the last six years, the integrity index for Korea has steadily declined.

Though income has increased and Korea has become a leading exporting country, we should not be considered a developed country, according to the columnist, if we can't expose corruption and maintain a high moral standard in society. He concludes the article by telling the older generation that they have to show the younger generation a love for the good and a hatred for evil. If we continue to be insensitive to corruption and irregularity in our society and are not embarrassed by this, we will not become, he says, despite our material affluence, a truly developed country.

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