Friday, October 28, 2016

Korea is Always in a Hurry

In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly, the columnist mentions his time as a tour guide for pilgrims to Europe. Most Europeans are not able to distinguish the Asians but the sightseeing bus drivers have little trouble. Whether they are groups of tourists or pilgrims they quickly know where they are from.

When they experience a noisy group it's from China. In contrast, the  quiet group is from Japan and the  splendidly clothed group is from Korea. The columnist says they are invariable right.

With the Korean group, they also add 'hurry hurry' cultural traits they recognized. He mentioned a story of a group of bus drivers who were eating together.  One of the drivers was silent. The other drivers were curious and asked why he was so quiet. He responded that he had a group of Koreans and had to get back to the bus quickly.

There is nothing wrong with nice clothes and being in a hurry but when related to some other concrete action than we have either a positive or negative nuanced situation. An example of this would be some work that was done very quickly: could mean industry and capability but also at the same time that they were sloppy and negligent.

In our situation, the columnist sees this mostly as a negative.The splendid clothes are not just beautiful but ostentation and vanity. The 'hurry hurry' trait is not only overlooking precision but concerned only with results. These are not naturally good traits but avarice. Having high motivation is a good but when it develops into greed we have problems.

Within 50 years Korea has gone from a per capita economy of 100 dollars to about 27,000 dollars.It has joined the wealthy countries of the world. These traits have helped to make it the miracle of the Han River. At the same time, there has been substance missing from this outlook on life and we have some serious consequences.  

When attention is only on results we are overcome by extreme competition and discrimination. We have to be better than the other, better than our predecessor. We are mesmerized with results. Something is missing from inside of ourselves.

This is not true of all society. However, it is part of our reality. What is possible is that we will throw good money after bad. What we need is the wisdom to learn from the old and go to the new. This is not only true for the country and society but also for the church.

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