Friday, May 14, 2010

Interesting Financial Times article comparing how Koreans dealt with the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and how Europeans are dealing with the financial crisis today:
Would Europeans queue to hand in their wedding rings to be melted down in the interests of repairing their national finances?

That is what South Koreans did amid the Asian markets crisis of 1997-1998 and the draconian strictures imposed by the International Monetary Fund following a $58bn bail-out. It was the IMF's biggest such package, over which arguments still rage on its size.

Nonetheless, many South Koreans look back on the period with pride, saying it showed the nation, which boasts of its collectivist spirit, was willing to pull together.

"Korea collected gold; Greece throws stones," quipped the rightwing Chosun Ilbo newspaper recently.

However, such rhetoric overlooks significant strikes and demonstrations in South Korea in the late 1990s. The Dong-a Ilbo, another newspaper, warned the insular Koreans not to be smug, saying at least the Greeks had "neighbours who would help them".
S Korea Recalls Spirit of Unity [Financial Times]

8 comments:

  1. A similar thing happened in the USA in the 1930s where gold was illegal to hold on private ownership.

    Quite frankly the answer to your question is NO they would not.

    Asia seems to have a collective well being mentality. While Anglo/American/European mentality is egocentric.

    It is a feeling of ME TO HELL WITH EVERYBODY ELSE

    Currently right now the prudent savers, i.e. most Asian people and many others are being torched by high inflation and are paying for the mistakes of the reckless. 2008 a tin of soup cost 34p 2010 it costs 67p (and the government lie on inflation)


    Korea will probably change as Korea was a poor farming society only 50 years ago. Even in China where people would give up their land for the 'common good' are standing and fighting these days.

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  2. Let's be clear about this. Korean's reaction to the financial crisis of '97 was a banding together against a perceived foreign threat, something that will produce a show of national unity in Korea. Do Koreans have a collectivist mentality? Yes, to a certain extent they do, however it is more of a small group collectivism than a nation wide one. This society is riven by community, region, class, school, company and gender divisions that are remarkable to observe and not at all apparent to the casual foreign observer. And that is something that the locals are keen to gloss over and would prefer to point out rare examples of national solidarity.

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  3. If it wasn't for the evil foreign beef or the World Cup, would Korea ever ignore their internal divisiveness long enough to show solidarity?

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  4. It is a feeling of ME TO HELL WITH EVERYBODY ELSE

    Congratulations. Welcome to the world of capitalism.

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  5. Asia seems to have a collective well being mentality. While Anglo/American/European mentality is egocentric.

    That's all well and good if you say it, but how do you explain the significantly larger gaps between rich and poor in Korea and China compared to Western Europe?

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  6. @ Douglas
    Let's be clear about this. Korean's reaction to the financial crisis of '97 was a banding together against a perceived foreign threat,

    Say what? The 97 financial crisis was a domestic problem caused by domestic elements. Even if SK defaulted like Argentina, it would not have faced any liquidation or takeover by any foreign entity. So where is this perceived foreign threat?


    @ The Chinese Guy
    Oh I don't know, I thought Nazi Germany was pretty collectivist. LOL.

    @ Anyone Greek
    Did the 2004 Olympics play any substantial role in Greece's current dilemma.

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  7. Asia seems to have a collective well being mentality. While Anglo/American/European mentality is egocentric.

    I would say the exact opposite is true - except in the case of the U.S.

    There is a very collective nationalist spirit in Korea and China, but that spirit doesn't extend to helping out their fellow countrymen in real terms, the way it does in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.

    As another poster mentioned, you only have to look at the enormous gap between the rich and poor to see that the individualist spirit is alive and well in East Asia.

    Korea, for example, while becoming richer every year, has the highest rate of elderly poverty in the world. Anyone who has been to Korea can attest to the juxtaposition of wealth with grinding poverty - 80-year-olds hauling carts full of rubbish and living in shanties the size of cupboards - and in a conficious society that claims to esteem the aged.

    Add to that the divisions that Douglas pointed out -- of region, class, school, company, gender church etc, and you have a country not very united at all.

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  8. @ Question

    Agreed. Note that I said "perceived foreign threat". This foreign threat is all in the minds of the locals. Koreans to this day call it the IMF Crisis, as if the IMF had anything to do with their self-inflicted wounds other than impose an austerity package and demand redress of a few of the more egregious mercantilist policies. All in return for the loan and the saving of their collective asses. They did and still do view this as a foreign imposition, and the slight cracking open of their economy to foreign investment and ownership is still resented and distrusted by large swaths of the population.

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