Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Increased reflexivity needed in Korea

In a story coming from the BBC, it is reported that South Korea has the highest suicide rate of all 30 OECD member countries.
An increasing number of suicides in the country should be alarming in any case, but the issue has recently come to the fore because of a recent high-profile suicide of prominent Korean pop star Yuni in January, which has sent the country into a state of soul-searching.
In a 2005 suicide of another Korean actress Eun-Ju Lee, reports brought up the social milieu in which contemporary Koreans find themselves: that of rapid cultural/social/economic upheaval, especially in the last fifty years. To attribute these suicides to more simple causal relationships would be to not do the issue enough justice.
Korea as a nation has changed immensely and, to its credit, adapted phenomenally to changing global conditions to become a competitive force worldwide. Its technology, culture, history, and so much more is an endless source of intrigue to many including myself. I continue to feel however, that much of the social picture remains neglected as a worthwhile investigation. However, it is specifically the aforementioned contingencies at which I am most interested in looking. Just how are everyday people in Korea coping with such changes, really? Amidst the clash of old and new, the shiny happy booth babes toting the latest high-tech gadget, the youth in search of others at the PC bang... what is happening? How are the various instances of social upheaval playing out and forming the bigger picture of contemporary Korean society? How are these impacts resonating worldwide?
We are only just becoming aware, even Koreans themselves, and these are continously interesting times in which to live and answer the questions that matter.

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