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What it means to be Korean

You know I am from South Korea, which is a republic. Many Western people don't distinguish between South and North because Korea is only a small country in Asia, and does not stand out. I think North Koreans hardly access the Internet and do not even know what it is. Poor people! The older people in Korea are eager for the reunification of South and North while most of the younger neither care nor hope it happens. People say that West Germany bought East Germany. Accordingly, the South is incapable of accepting the North at the moment, and not within 10 years time I think. As you know we are under IMF restrictions and suffering pain. People are also afraid of economic hardship after reunification.

Koreans are said to be diligent. Do you know why? Because they are avaricious and selfish. Every Korean wants to be richer and more powerful than the other. Many work very hard and save most of their earnings. Many students study more than 15 hours a day because they and their parents think this might help them to upgrade their social status and make a lot of money. Everyone around is a potential competitor. Koreans are mean and rude. We do not want to take responsibility. We very much like to be number one and be out front, but when it comes to responsibility we turn the other way. Koreans like vanity too. We chase after top-brand things even though we can not afford to buy them.

Even I am sometimes tempted to buy high-class brand clothes.

Being a Korean, I do not like my own national characteristics. I, myself, try not to do the above things whenever possible. Hopefully, the next generation will overcome these bad characteristics.

Choi Hae-Young, Jan 28, 1999

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Last updated: January 28, 1999