Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happiness Index and Korea

An interview with the president of the Korean Friendship Association of the Kingdom of Bhutan was written up in the Catholic Peace Weekly. The President gives us some background to why Bhutan has the highest Happiness index of all the countries in the world.

If the government is not able to make the citizens happy it has no reason to exist. This is a sentence from their code of law. Since The Kingdom of Bhutan has no embassy in Korea the Friendship Association is recognized as a spokesperson for the Kingdom in Korea.

Gross national happiness is what has taken the place of gross national product which was the gift of the fourth king of Bhutan in 1970. Most of the countries have made their goal economic development. Bhutan differently was concerned with the rich-poor gap, destruction of the environment, which was producing negative side effects and prompted the government to study the problem. The results are what the whole word has become interested in.

Bhutan has shown concern for economic development,  care for the environment, the preservation of the culture and leaders who take initiative in working for change. Each country has a different population and conditions which will require different approaches to achieve the happiness goal for the citizens. Thailand, Dubai, and the state of California have shown a desire to follow Bhutan. 

Is it possible to gauge the happiness level of a country? In Korea happiness and the condition for happiness are often confused. If you ask a Korean about happiness they will mention health and their children going to the right schools as a condition for happiness. In Bhutan it is not the conditions but happiness itself, it is not related to conditions. It is what is desired deep down in one's heart which requires some know-how to achieve this knowledge.

The national committee approves the suggestions that come in from the different sections of society. The committee selects the policies that they deem will make over 82 percent of the citizens happy. If a suggestion is not seen as fostering the happiness of the citizens it is not accepted.

Once suggestions are accepted do we see a change in the happiness level of the citizens? Here in Korea, the suicide rate is the highest of all the countries of the OECD.This is a sign that we have a great deal of anger in society and a lack of happiness. This requires efforts on the part of the government to work on these areas of pain in society. 

In conclusion of the interview, the president mentions that if the suicide rate went down to number two after the effort in working on GNH, Gross National Happiness, they would know that Korea had some success.

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