Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tearing Down the Walls of Confucianism

Hello. I found this article about a business person's view of how the "Korean way" ( or Confucian way) hinders efficiency in Korea. It was mainly focusing on how Korea needs to overcome the "Korean way" in order to successfully implement President Lee's reforms. But one point I found interesting was how he compared the Korean herd mentality to America's individualism by using the 2002 anti-American protests and the Cho Seung Hui incident at Virginia Tech. First he introduced herd mentality by mentioning the anti-American protests in 2002 that erupted after an American armored vehicle killed two Korean school girls Koreans, and then he said how Koreans expected an American backlash against Koreans in America after the Cho Seung Hui incident at Virginia Tech. Koreans were very concerned and sent diplomatic apologies to America, and they were surprised that Americans didn't act out how Koreans thought they would. Americans saw the Virginia Tech incident as an individual who went on a rampage and being completely separate from Koreans. This is a fundamental difference between the cultures. This is the article.


Inyeop Lee said...

Hey Courtney. I think his argument is too simplistic, and some of his examples are irrelevant to his own argument.
He criticized collectivism in Korea which, he believes, is based on Confucianism. And he argued that collectivism should be replaced by American style individualism. It gives us many unanswered questions: If Confucianism was so problematic and rooted in Korean culture, how could Korea be developed so fast? Was there any positive side in Confucianism for social development? For example, the emphasis on education, social cohesion and so on. It is also very difficult to decide the degree of influence by Confucianism in the current Korean society. Is the Confucianism still influential and it’s the most important factor for Korean problems?
He said the 2002 anti-American protests was an example of extreme collectivism. If it is expression of collectivism and it should be avoided, how about the pro-American protests by conservative groups? (I don’t think he will say yes) Can we just simply categorize these by individualism vs. collectivism?
The Cho Seung Hui incident at Virginia Tech and the reaction from Korean society....Is that just because the Korean society is so collective and the American Society is individualistic? How about fundamental differences between the two societies such as ethnic diversity, definition of ‘Koreans’ and ‘Americans’ and so on...?

Courtney said...

With the Cho Seung Hui example, I think the point was that Koreans expected Americans to react the way in which Koreans would but they didn't.