Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Local Values in Global Times

Nowadays, one easily knows what's happening in the global village. In the markets, you can find shampoos and groceries from multinationals in Africa, the Himalayan, you can buy handicrafts made by a tribe of the Amazon jungle in American shopping malls. In the Peace Weekly, a university professor gives the readers something to think about.

Targets for the multinational corporation, mostly from the developed countries, are the whole global village. The market is not only the wealthy countries with most consumers but underdeveloped countries with less economic growth and giving them simplified products, with less capacity and cheaper prices. As a result, it is necessary to understand the people's way of living and to make their products to fit the consumer's needs and values.

McDonald's, for example, changes their menus to meet the needs of the host country. In India, they use instead of beef, beans, and other vegetables. In Japan, burgers are made using teriyaki sauce. In China, in their stores, they use a lot of red and the color gold that Chinese people like. In the US, Coca-Cola's commercial is a white bear playing football, in South America, the soccer field is in the background and in China the panda.

Globalization is not only beneficial to large industrial companies. Local values and culture also spread to the rest of the world. Vietnamese food has emerged as a global food connecting Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican foods by word-of-mouth as healthy food for consumers in developed countries who were worried about obesity and adult diseases. Luwak coffee from Indonesia made in a very unappealing way and its scarcity is sold at high prices in developed countries. Increasingly people are going to the polar regions, jungles, and deserts exploring these far off places and experiencing indigenous life.

One thing to note here is the exchange of culture and values that occur in the process of exchanging people and goods. As with the flow of goods, the cultures and values of developed countries usually affect first the third world—their way of life, relationships, and standards of beauty, etc.

Universal values like human rights are now taken for granted in almost all countries. As individualism replaces collectivism, individual freedom and achievement emerge as more important values than group harmony and order. In Asia, Western traits such as white skin, small faces, big eyes, high noses, and long limbs are taken as a new standard of beauty, and the market produces many goods and services that sell this image.

Korea is not free from this influence. Many of the things we understand as natural trends may actually be things we are accustomed to without recognizing where they have come. Imagine a woman who enjoys coffee alone at Starbucks and a young woman who eats miso soup alone at a restaurant. This is still awkward but changing. Eating, drinking and traveling alone are gradually accepted as natural changes.

If so, what culture values are we informing the global community and how are we influencing that community? Are our local values arising in the global village as much as kimchi, healthy food, drama, and smartphone exports?

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