Can Korean, or any other Culture Avoid Being Homogenized via Globalization?

Saving Korean culture is going to be left in the hands of generations who spend an entire lunch on their smart phones. A lunch, mind you, at which three old friends have re-united after a long semester in universities spread all over the country.

If the attention spectrum of our youth is so fractured, and less and less sign up for drum troops, play traditional instruments, sing Pansori or Throt, or, importantly, paint, write or dance in the old ways, the old ways will disappear.

Korea has long been occupied: by China, Mongolia, China, Japan and now the USA. Even though many households, especially in Joellanamdo still stick to Confucian rules, the attraction of the occupiers cannot be denied. We still name our children using Chinese characters, wear Hanboks at weddings, eat rice cake cookies and Kimchi; but the current overthrow of Korean culture may be complete.

Here’s why: other than initial wars, one culture can be overthrown via language, religions and, alarmingly, popular culture.

Remember the brave folk singers who helped topple dictators here? The same type minstrels also helped end the Vietnam War in the USA. Where are they now? They’ve been shut out of contracts and replaced by KPOP, and overtly sexual form of song and dance that repeats both disco (USA 1970s) and the boy bands of the 80s and 90s, like New Kids on the Block and ‘N’ Synch. Lyrics such as “Baby One More Time,” or “Mister Mister” are not giving Korea a wholesome reputation around the world. Even Gangnam Style was full of meanings formerly considered vulgar in Korea.

This is not a matter of old fashion or conservative values, but a plea for people to think about how many other cultures have been lost via globalization, genocide, slavery, greed. Of all the cultures to copy, the USA does not come to mind as a particularly wise choice. The country has invaded other countries 90 times since World War II. Its education and health care systems are, except at universities, abominable, or they cost more than most can afford. Private hospitals have already crept into the Korean system.

There are many examples of creative and performing artists keeping traditional Korean ways alive, but the youth of Korea is headed in another direction. As sure as the Ajummas one day will stop showing up on streets or in traditional markets, taking on American ideals will lead to higher crime rates, a wider gap between rich and poor, and a greater dependency on globalized trade, rather than being self sufficient. Such dependencies assure the further erosion of Korean culture in favor of “world culture” meaning US values.

Music and movies, along with TV occupy the brain cells with “entertainment” that makes people numb with vapid content. Add to this Text Messaging and PC Games, and Korea’s lost generation is already 40 years old!

English, for the broad majority of workers, is not necessary. President Park Gun Hye took it off the KSAT university exam. It’s a start, but maybe too little, too late. I believe foreign language education is vital for brain development, as is music. But, by adopting the USA’s language, culture (note Kim Ki Duk’ movies) and horrifying religions, Korea’s past and future contributions to world culture are and will be collaborations, at best.

Catholic missionaries and others have been in Korea since long before the War of North and South. They have, along with capitalism, changed Korea from a culture in which everyone shared and knew each other, into a “my dogma is better than your dogma” religious Olympics. This, above all, threatens Buddhism. Koreans may be skeptical of Buddhism, but its core values are more peace loving and aware of the environment than Christians have ever been (Quakers excepted).

Here, only the most conservative flocks such as Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Jehova’s Witness, and right-winged Presbyterians (huh?) and others represent a real threat. The SDA offers people jobs in the food industry in trade for piety. Do we need such a radical church controlling our food supply or educating our children? This portends a robot culture akin to Pyeung Yang’s.

Almost every war since 800AD has been started by Christians, including the 3000 cultures wiped out via genocide in South and North America. Note “12 Years a Slave,” the 2014 Oscar winner for best movie, in which Christian teachings are preached to slaves that are kept in line with bullwhips and hangings.

No other religion inspires hypocrisy so completely. President Bush had to switch from Methodist to Baptist in order to keep his head up in Church, when the Methodists condemned his wars. He was the first sitting President to switch religions in US history. He kept going while his policies including killing innocent civilians and torture. President Lee Myung Bak kept going to Presbyterian church though eight protesters died at the wrong end of his water cannons, trying to keep very old us Beef out of Korea.

Good luck Korea, invaded in so many ways. Sharing and loving have been traded for big money and plastic surgery. Korean women no longer will marry a farmer or fisherman or wonderful man, unless they have money. This is dreadful.

5 thoughts on “Can Korean, or any other Culture Avoid Being Homogenized via Globalization?

    • I’ve been here six years, and there is little doubt Language, Religion and KPOP and Korean movies are ruining Korean culture. And this comes form a man who toured as a punk bass guitarist for 15 years in the states. It is precisely the lack of protest songs and STUPIDITY of the lyrics that make KPOP the equivalent of American Idol or what’s left of MTV. Without large-label record contracts for anyone other than Billy Bragg, protest songs are left to bar-bands and moderately successful indy label bands, meaning Music is no longer a medium of social critique. Maybe Brad Pitt’s “12 years Years A Slave” made a good point, and in Korea Kim Ki Duk is telling truths the news won’t touch, otherwise, living life in an original way, following our own dreams, is also disappearing, n’est-ce pas?

  1. Hi Doug!! Reading this blog reawakened memories of my time as an English teacher in Gwangju. At the risk of appearing cynical, I quickly arrived at the conclusion that English teaching was little more than a front for fomenting American propaganda. Each and every textbook presented US culture as the norm to be aspired to, and the bulk of the foreign teachers were, frankly, wet-behind-the-ears glorified teenagers parading around thinking they were smart and clever and representative of the way things should be, but with neither the wisdom nor life experience to realise that they were there merely as dancing puppets. I gained satisfaction in presenting counters to the prevailing text book ethos, found the students very receptive to this, which not only encouraged learning, but also gave them skills in using English to question information received.
    While I am on a roll here, as a proud Luddite and anti-Cartesianist, I have come to view schools everywhere as indoctrination factories instilling the dehumanising abstractions that allow a mechanistic conformist culture to be perpetuated. Here it is, graphically and creatively:

    Wonderful to be in touch, Doug!!

    cheers, Allen

    • Thanks Allen.

      I spend a lot of time here, so let Facebook and most other SMS platforms behind.

      Due to my family history, Chonnam was aware or THOUGHT I’d be a natural conservative. I gave the students readings in Media, Business, Debate anmd Speech, and Academic English that ALL mirrored folks like Chomsky, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn,etc. Eventually some hardcore right winged students started to revolt, and I skiddadled before I was let go. Now in the middle of an activist community and teaching to war veterans at Sadie’s Place, a Veteran’s Center here in North Carolina.

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