OPINION

Patriotism, the Korean way

By Yu Kun-ha
  • Published : Apr 25, 2012 - 19:22
  • Updated : Apr 25, 2012 - 19:22
Koreans are among the most patriotic people in the world. Their love for their country is unequalled. Outside being hard working, everything that they have achieved so far was spurred by an undying love for their country and the sheer zeal to place their country on the world map. Such attitudes deserve paean and fete.

Recently, during the just-concluded nuclear summit in Seoul, Koreans showed their devotion and love for their national cause when they cancelled a proposed demonstration that was supposed to hold on March 25 to protest the idea of nuclear power. Prior to their change of heart, the protest was rumored to be about the highest in terms of turnout. The truth is that Koreans thought otherwise and placed their country first.

I asked the taxi driver who took me from Itaewon to the train station in Seoul en route to Daejeon why the protest was not held. He said, “There are so many presidents here in my country during this period, we have to stop it for security purposes and not to shame our country.” I could not hide my respect and praise for the people of Korea. It touched me and also taught me more about patriotism. While I don’t want to get involved in the debate about the nuclear energy issue, whether it is good or bad, I believe that the negotiations and debate will be carried out in a sensible manner after that show of love from the people.

Another issue that caught my attention during that period was the civilized manner in which Koreans go about protests. Before the canceled Sunday protest, there were mini-protests on Friday and Saturday. The way the protesters conducted themselves gave a meaning to the word “peaceful protest.” To my great surprise and for the first time I saw two opposing people protest the same time and there was no violence. It is a rare scene in most countries. That showed how much Koreans have civilized. They have outgrown petty hatred and respect the right of others to hold different opinions. Those for nuclear energy and those against it protested, there was no fight between them, no quarrel and no security threat! That is what is needed in a sane and civilized society.

The economic development of Korea was championed and attained through patriotic actions and even the sacrifice of Koreans for the good of the country. The fact that Koreans’ love for their country is undying should propel the government to do more for them in terms of good leadership, better policies and social welfare.

Koreans are best-described as born to respond, judging by how they responded to their economic status in the ‘60s and marched into economic stability. They made genuine progress with so few resources. The sheer speed they use in doing things is a testimony to their zeal propelled by patriotism.

Furthermore, Koreans are seen as born to learn. Their love for education and passion for learning is something that has reshaped and re-defined Korea and her people and has put them in good stead among world leaders. Korea’s college entrance rate from 1980 to 2010 shows the massive improvements the country has made.

Yes, some people may not always keep to the ideals of the society. Some may engage in some demeaning act, but such actions are understandable as such follies show that we are human. It also shows our imperfection as only paradise is the abode of perfection.

Koreans are hard-working people, people that place their country first, who cherish their country and defend it with all they have. They are also very civilized in mind, tolerant of divergent views and that is why they are creative.

To us, the latest gesture from Koreans and their peaceful nature throughout the nuclear summit as well as their good attitude cum patriotism during other international events like the World Athletic championship in Daegu last year, the FIFA World Cup in 2002, and other international events deserves encomium. Their actions are worthy of emulation as we urge them to keep it up.

By Uwalaka Temple

Uwalaka Temple is an MBA student from Nigeria at Solbridge International School of Business, Woosong University, in Daejeon, South Korea. Previousely, he was a high school English and literature teacher and wrote two books. ― Ed.