South Korea






South Korea

Part 1

South Korea by Lee and Choe

The article on the New York Times analyzes the South Korean economic position on the globe. The South Korean economy has started resuming to being one of the largest economies in Asia after the 2008 recession that hit most economies. As a concern to the global community, Lee Myung-bak who is the president of the country agreed to engage in talks that would see the close down of the nuclear programs in North Korea.

North Korea is the most affected country by the wealth and economic status of the country. It has allowed WHO to continue distributing medical aid to the North. In the year 2009, South Korea made a donation worth $13 million to WHO, which was meant to aid in sending of medical supplies and medicine to North Korea. However, this donation was discontinued when the warship of the South Koreans was sunk in March 2010. The country has also been engaged in the significant economic decisions made by the developed countries.

South Korea by Miller

Miller takes the reader through the culture, language, geographical locations and the people of South Korea. Unlike most colonized countries, South Korea did not greatly adopt the Japanese language. On the contrary, they continued with the Korean language, which is their official language and the language spoken in North Korea. In other words, all Koreans make up one ethnic family, which speaks one ethnic language. Miller states that their writing and speaking of one language has been crucial in the making of the strong nationality they posses. The Korean language is spoken by more than 5.5 million Koreans living in the Diaspora and 65 million people living on the outlying islands of peninsula and peninsula. The Koreans were not pleased by their colonial master Japan so they failed to take up their language and most of their cultural practices. They are still angry at Japan to date.

Understanding South Korean Economic Growth through the eyes of Millitarism, Sex Work and Migrant Labor

Lee goes through the people, especially the women of South Korea, went through in order to maintain the economic activities taking place during the colonial days and even after that. Although there were more farming activities in the colonial days, the main source of economic growth in South Korea was manufacturing. The Koreans were used as a source of free labor by the Japanese and the women worked as sex workers for the Japanese soldiers.

Today, manufacturing is still the main source of economic growth. The country highly engages in computer devises, fabrics and clothing, telecommunication, heavy industrial products, just to mention but a few. In fact, the country is one of the major producers of steel since the 1970s. Some of these manufacturing skills were gotten from the Japanese, who are mainly known for their knowledge in technology and automobiles.

Background Note: South Korea by the U.S

This site gives general facts about South Korea. In economic matters, the country’s purchasing power parity by the year 2010 was $1.459 trillion. The natural resources in the country include hydropower potential, lead, molybdenum, graphite, tungsten and coal, just to mention but a few. The agricultural products include fish, eggs, milk, chickens, pigs, cattle, fruit, vegetables, barley, root crops and rice, amongst others.

In the year 2009, the exports amounted to $363.5 billion while the imports added up to $323.1 billion. The country’s major export markets include Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S and China. It major imports markets include Australia, Saudi Arabia, U.S., Japan and China. This means that the country has a good trading relationship with its colony. However, the government that both countries have not come into full relationship as the colony still has bitter feelings towards the colonial master.

Cultural Identity and Cultural Policy in South Korea

The South Koreans, the North Koreans, Japanese, Chinese amongst other Asian people have similar looks. This tends to make many people assume that they have similar cultures. However, this is a fallacy. The South Koreans especially, have their own culture, language and uniqueness in the way they write. Their cultural aspects have also been emphasized by their cultural policies.

Yim gives the relationship between the cultural aspects and the cultural policies. The policies enable the country to develop it own culture in order to put a shield fro the outside cultures, especially the western cultures, which tend to corrode the existing one thus making it insignificant or undefined. The Japanese culture had no major impact on the South Korean culture. As earlier noted, this was mainly due to the hatred the Koreans had towards the Japanese mistreatment of them.

  1. Do you think the people will completely forgive your colonial master at some point if the message of reconciliation and peace is greatly spread?
  2. What positive aspects of culture and practices were adopted from the colonizing country?
  3. Is there anybody you know who went through the colonizing period? How are their reactions and perceptions towards your country and the colonizing country?


Part 2

            I started by asking my interviewee to give me her names. She told me that her names were YewonSim. In order to know more about her, I asked her where her the name of her home country and the specific city or town she came from. She told me that she was came from South Korea and lived in Seoul as that was her university’s location. However, her home town is known as Daegu. I further asked her to tell me her age and whether she had any brothers and sisters. She told me that she was twenty-two years old and she had one brother and a sister.

In order to know more about her education and her reasons for studying, I asked her to tell the reason why she decided to study abroad. I specifically wanted to know why she decided to move to the United States. She told me that she wanted to be television drama director. She further told me that T.V drama was the world best. She wants to know the way of thinking of the American young people and the American young culture.

When asked about her reasons for choosing the United States as her place of study, she answered that her major is Media and it was started in the United States. When she entered the university, she knew that she wanted to do her studies in the United States. In order to know more, I asked her to tell me the year she was expecting to graduate and to confirm her major if I applied. She answered that she was expecting to graduate this August with a major in Media.

In order to get the views of a non-American about Americans’ reaction to non-Americans, I asked her to tell me about the reactions of the Americans when they meet her and know that she is from South Korea. She answer that the Americans start by asking her country of origin. When they know that it is Korea, they continue to ask about the exact part of Korea, which she has come from. She then answers that it is South Korea, where their faces tend to relax.

I asked her whether she knew about the words “colonized or dependency”. She answered that she knew about the word and then proceeded to tell me its meaning. She explained that the word refers to a country that holds or controls the economic and political power over another country.  I further asked her whether she knew that Japan was once the colonial master of South Korea. She told me that she knew about it. I further asked her to explain to me further. She told me that Korea was a dependency of Japan from 1910 to 1945, which was a total of thirty-six years. Korea then gained its independence in August 15, 1945. She told me that she has learnt about Korean history since the time she was in elementary school. She knows a lot about Korean’s colonization period.

I asked her to tell me about her native language and any other native languages if there were any. I also asked her whether she was capable of speaking it. She told me that the native language in Korea was the Korean language. The other language present was the English language. In order to know more, I asked her of how she came to know about the English language. She told me that she started learning it since she was in elementary school. She also enrolled in English tutoring classes later in life. In order to make the interview more interesting, I asked her to tell me the language she dreamt in before coming to the United States. She told me that she used to dram in Korean language.

In order to gauge her change of thoughts, I asked her to tell me about the language she dreams and think in now that she is in the United States. She told me that she still thinks and dreams in the Korean language although she heard that some people start dreaming in the English language if they study English for too long. In order to know more about her language, I asked her whether there were words in the Korean language, which she could not easily find substitute English words. I also asked whether there were English words that she could not find substitute Korean words. She gave me an example of “Bbi-jjeut-dda”. This means, “mad” but it is not the exact synonym. The English expression known as “Oh my god” does not have an equal in the Korean language.

I further asked her to tell me how the two languages affected her perception of the world. I asked her to tell me of how it felt speaking either of the languages and whether she sometimes substituted one language with the other. She told me that a lot of content was written in the English language. Knowing and writing English made one to know a lot of information. She gave an example of the “TED” video clip where one gets to learn a lot of information through the professors and the lecturers from the different universities. She also told me that it is best for one to learn their mother tongue. This makes it easier for one to learn other languages.

I asked her a few questions relating to how it felt living in former colony South Korea. I asked her whether she had ever traveled to Japan. She answered that she had. I further asked whether Japan influenced the Koreans’ lives. She answered that it does. She told me that since Japan was Korean’s colonial master, some cultures practiced today and some laws followed today were based on the Japanese culture and legal system. I further asked her how she viewed the South Korea to be different from Japan. She told me that the Koreans started afresh after they got their independence. However, since Korea is situated near China and Japan, the three countries have influenced each other.

I asked her to give me reasons that she thought made Korea to be a colony of Japan. I further told her to give me the effects of Japan’s colonization on South Korean’s economic power. She told me that Japan accepted the western culture (of colonizing other countries) in the 19th century. Since Korea was near Japan, Japan made up a plan to colonize it. For thirty-six years, South Korea endured the cruelty of the Japanese people. Since the Koreans did not like the Japanese culture and their way of life, the Japanese had a herd time controlling the Koreans. This led the Japanese to use the cruel ways the way they did. These bad effects are still felt by the Koreans to date. In winding up the interview, I asked to tell me about her favorite movie. She told me that it is known as “The Memory of Killing”. I further asked her to name her favorite popular song. She told me that it is known as “Old Love”. She also told me that her favorite book is known as “Mountain TaeBaeck”.


            The modernization theory enables one to understand how the people in the diverse countries came to have their cultures and how the colonial masters influenced their ways of life. In the above example, the Japanese people influenced the South Koreans’ culture in a few ways although the Koreans refused to incorporate the Japanese language in their lives. They were bitter towards the cruel way in which they were treated. Like in other colonies, the Japanese people influenced the legal system of the Koreans. Most colonies adopt the legal system of the colonizing country.

Literature and the arts are very influential on the culture of the targeted people. They help the people to understand what went on during the colonial days, especially the young generations who were not there. Some literature works and arts may help the audience to heal the wounds (both physical and psychological) that they got during the colonial days while other works increase the pain as they serve as a constant reminder of it. The reminders increase the anger and the hatred towards the colonial master as in the case of South Korea and Japan thus there is no free relationship between the two.

In the case of my interviewee, the movie was a reminder of the pains and the cruelty of the colonial days. Such a movie will only increase the pain in her and thus increase the resentment she has towards Japan. However, her favorite song soothed her mind as it reminded her of the old love. Since the people are fond of entertainment, they tend to follow or consider the musicians’ messages and the other messages conveyed by the musicians.

Through music and the media, America is portrayed as a very free country without any culture. It is also viewed as a country whose youths have been spoilt by drug addictions, sex and irresponsibility. With the Hip-hop songs so popular, it is portrayed a country full of people who do not care. In other types of literature, it portrayed as a very rich country offering many opportunities of fulfilling the American dream. This is what the people expect when they visit the country.

People are shaped by their environment and their encounters. If I were born in Korea, I would share the same culture, practices, language and feelings of the South Korean people. I would speak the language. There is a great probability that I would not speak the English or proper English depending on my background since it not a compulsory language. I would want to come to the United States since it is a popular country, which is portrayed to be full of opportunities.

Since I would be from South Korea, many of my job opportunities would be based in
South Korea. However, I would consider other countries such as the United States, Japan and the European countries. I do not keep grudges and anger for a long time and that is why Japan is one of my options. Japan trades with South Korea at many levels so it does not have such a sour relationship. It also has a very good economy.



Lee, J. K. (2011). Understanding South Korean Economic Growth through the eyes of Millitarism, Sex Work and Migrant Labor. Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 12 (4): 167-169.

Lee, S. H. & Choe, S.H. (2012). South Korea. New York Times, February 7. Retrieved From

Miller, J.A (2010). South Korea. Minneapolis, MN: Learner Publishing Group.

U.S Department of State (2011). Background Note: South Korea. Retrieved from

Yim, H. (2002). Cultural Identity and Cultural Policy in South Korea. The International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 8 (1): 37-48.

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