South Koreans essay example
Korea was conquered by Japan and divided into South and North Korea at the end of World War II. The Korean War caused devastating damage to Korea. However, it should be noticed that despite frequent foreign invasions, the Korean Peninsula has been under a single government while maintaining its political independence, culture and ethnic heritage. Not that long ago, South Korea was one of Asia's economic success stories - one of the region's hungry "tigers" looking around for new markets to conquer. Seoul, its capital, modernized in a very rapid amount of time to accommodate the needs of business travelers and has brought the country's colorful traditions and trademark tranquility. The unique elements of culture The population of the Korean Peninsula, sharing a common language, ethnic identity, and culture, was one of the world's most homogeneous.
Although there were significant regional differences even within the relatively small land area of South Korea, neither the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) nor South Korea had significant non-Korean ethnic minorities. This homogeneity, and the sense of a shared historical experience that it promoted, gave the people of South Korea a strong sense of national purpose. The division of the peninsula after World Ward II, the establishment of two antagonistic states in the north and south, and the profound changes in the economy and society caused by industrialization and urbanization since the 1950's led many South Koreans to search for their national identity and place in the world. Many modernized; urban-dwelling South Koreans embark on a search for the "essence" of their culture, which commonly expresses itself as hostility to foreign influences. Basically the family is a body of relations, which is first formed by marriage.
In Korea, the family often has a habit of living under one roof. The family member is related by blood. However, the family based on blood relatives has changed over time. However, to ensure the continuance of the family lineage, the oldest son is to succeed the father as the head of the family, showing the emphasis on the paternal line of the family. Korea's educational system is noted for its high quality and standards. Illiteracy is practically non-existent.
Korean students pursue their academic goals enthusiastically, and diligently shoulder heavy workloads. Children begin their school at the age of 7. After three years of middle school and three years of high school, students may advance to university for four years of higher education. The university entrance examinations are extremely rigorous, as indicated by the term "admissions war", which aptly describes the fierce competition. The election of President Kim Young-Sam in 1933, the nation's first genuine civilian government in 32 years, has heralded the establishment of a "New Korea" that is leading its people towards social justice and national stability. President Kim's administration is also looking outward through its "segye hwa" globalization campaign designed to bring Korea into the rapidly changing global environment and to establish it as an Asia-Pacific power.
The Korean press had a strong reformist and nationalistic flavor from the beginning, but faced efforts at political control or outright censorship during most of the twentieth century. Many Korean journalists established a tradition of remaining independent. They were often critical of the government, obsessively protesting any attempts at press. Korean culture includes a wide variety of religious elements that shapes people's way of thinking and behavior.
At the early stage of Korean history, Shamanism was a primitive religion, which penetrated into the daily life of the people through folk beliefs. People believed in the spirit of nature and universe. They also believed that all objects in this world had spirits. This belief can also be found in some groups of Thai people. They also believed in the power of incantation.
The traditional costume, which reflects a part of the Korean culture, is called Hanbok. Men wore a jacket known as sho gori, paj i or trousers, and turumagi or overcoat with hat, belt and a pair of shoes. Women wore cho gori, short jacket with two long ribbons which are tied to form an otkorum knot, a full length, high-waist wrap-around skirt called china, worn together with white cotton socks, pos on, and boat-shaped shoes, Even though nowadays Korean people wear western-style clothes, the people do not neglect hanbok. The Koreans usually wear hanbok on special occasions like the lunar New Year holidays. In my opinion, Hanbok, the traditional dress, is important in a sense that it reflects the unique culture of this country. The Korean people have a 5,000 year old history of artistic talents that have evolved over the generations consisting of original music, dance and painting.
Even though they have taken on forms of art from the western world, their uniqueness still flourishes both in their pure forms combined with modern arts. Despite some similarities to China and Japan, traditional Korean music called "kugak", can easily be distinguished. It has a sound that is different. For example, Korean music has three beats per measure rhythm, while Chinese and Japan have only two. Kugak is divided into two types, court music and folk music. The music of the upper class is slow and complicated while the more domestic music is very fast.
The Korean language consists of a Korean alphabet called "Han-gul". It is composed of 10 simple vowels and 14 consonants. The language has been in existence since 1443. Because of the substantial differences between English and Korean, native English speakers may find that learning Korean is somewhat difficult.
There are vowels and consonant sounds that English does not have. Standard Korean is spoken across the country. English is not widely spoken, although most major businesses will have some English-speaking staff. Business Customs and Practices Doing business with international clients requires more than just financial intelligence. A lack of knowledge about a customer's culture can lead to misunderstanding, frustration, and potential embarrassment. The building of successful business relationships is a vital part of any international venture, and such relationships rely heavily on an understanding of each partner's expectations and intentions.
Each culture has its own eccentricity when it comes to social business relations. Business customs are as much a cultural elements of a society as is the language. Culture not only establishes the criteria for day-to-day business behavior, but also forms general patterns of attitude and motivation. In South Korea like any other country around the world the customs and traditions reflect the people's behavior in conducting a business deal. First appearances count a great deal in Korea, so it is important to always wear a suit when conducting business. Women should always wear a smart, conservative outfit.
English is not widely spoken, although most major businesses will have some English-speaking staff available. Koreans will always shake hands at meetings, but it is also customary to bow slightly when shaking hands for the first time. If business cards are exchanged, it is extremely important that a few seconds are taken to examine the card in the presence of the person to whom the card represents. This act will show that you are showing interest in the status of the card giver as well as the company they represent. It is also important to remember that when exchanging business cards, it is always done with both hands, as this is considered an act of respect. When addressing a Korean businessman, it is customary to refer to him as Mr. and never by his first name.
In addition to that, never hand a Korean person a business card with a Japanese translation of your name and corporate position, as this is considered highly insulting. Japan occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, and your card may be interpreted as a reference to this period. Korean culture is a high context culture and it is hard for Korean people to handle a low context culture. Therefore, obtaining an introduction to a Korean business executive or to an organization is always preferable than contacting them directly as an individual. It is always useful to cultivate a network of Korean contacts for such introduction's. Also, Korean negotiations tend to be lengthy and protracted.
It is not advisable to appear pushy during a discussion. If a sensitive issue arises on which agreement is not forthcoming, one's should leave it for discussion at a later meeting, preferably through a Korean intermediary. In Korea, the human relationship, which exists between the parties to a contract, is more important than the legal document itself. Koreans consider the questions about someone's private life, like marital status, family background and income, are not regarded as personal questions and they will often appear interested in your background. Since the Korean is high context culture, it is common to see Korea operate on polychromic time where the completion of human transaction is emphasized more than holding a schedule. It is important to endure tardiness with humility.
Whether it's the traffic or just forgetfulness on the part of the individual, some Koreans are often late. It is probably best to tolerate such situations since to complain about tardiness may ultimately prove to be counter-productive to the negotiating process Business ethics also play big rules in Korean culture. Presenting gifts to a servant to expedite the process of a business with a value exceeding $US 100 must be reported to the authorities, under the country's Civil Servant Ethics Law. Giving objects, which come in a set of four, will never be accepted as this object has a death association in Korean culture.
Also, never offer or give money to a Korean businessman or other Koreans in return for favors that have been provided out of kindness. Offering money is sometimes considered offensive. Political and Legal environment South Korea is a republic with powers shared between the president and the legislature. The president is chief of state and is elected for a term of 5 years. The 299 members of the unicameral National Assembly are elected to 4-year terms. South Korea's judicial system comprises a Supreme Court, appellate courts, and a Constitutional Court.
South Korean politics were changed dramatically by the 1988 legislative elections, the Assembly's greater powers under the 1987 constitution, and the influence of public opinion. After 1987 there was a significant political move towards liberalization in South Korea, including greater freedom of the press, greater freedoms of expression and assembly, and the restoration of the civil rights of former detainees. The new opposition-dominated National Assembly quickly challenged the president's prerogatives. However, the trend toward greater democratization continued. In free and fair elections in December 1992, Kim Young Sam, the former opposition leader who joined the ruling party of Roh Tae Woo, received 43% of the vote and became Korea's first civilian president in nearly 30 years.
In June 1995, Korea held direct elections for local and provincial executive officials (mayors, governors, county and ward chiefs) for the first time in more than 30 years. In August 1996, ex-presidents Chun and Roh were convicted on corruption and treason charges but were pardoned by President Kim Young Sam in December 1997. The mass of different laws, regulations, unwritten ministerial guidance and changing policies has made for a challenging business environment in Korea. However, in an effort to reverse Korea's reputation as a difficult environment for foreign investment and to further free the Korean economy, the government has announced a series of economic reforms designed to remove unnecessary regulations and give more scope for decision making to the private sector. Due to the financial crisis and the need to attract foreign investment to restore Korea to an economic growth path, the government is quickly trying to simplify and deregulate investment procedures to improve the investment climate.
Economic Conditions As one of the "Four Dragons" of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago its GDP per capita was comparable to the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today, its GDP per capita is comparable to economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980's was achieved by a system of close government business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt / equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector.
South Korea signed an enhanced US$58 billion package, including loans from the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank. Under the terms of the that program, South Korea agreed to accelerate the opening of its financial and equity markets to foreign investment and to reform and restructure its financial and corporate sectors to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency. By the end of 1998 it had recovered financial stability, rebuilding foreign exchange reserves to record levels by running a current account surplus of US$40 billion. Seoul has also made a positive start on a program to get the country's largest business groups to swap subsidiaries to promote specialization. The administration has directed many of the mid-sized conglomerates into debt-workout programs with creditor banks. The stock market, which fell sharply at the onset of the crisis, rose by 33 percent in 1998, and a further 70 percent through November 1999.
South Korea substantial progress has been made in stabilizing the financial system, addressing corporate distress, strengthening the institutional framework for corporate governance and financial supervision, liberalizing capital markets and foreign investment, fostering transparency, and enhancing the role of market discipline. The institutional framework for restructuring is largely in place and major strides have been made in addressing the deep-seated problems of enterprises and financial institutions. Modern Korea is a nation that has rebuilt itself from the devastation of war and has achieved an economic miracle in just 40 years, serving today as a model for many developing countries. This achievement is even more significant considering the extra burden added by the division of Korean Peninsula into two countries. The Korea of today is a fascinating place whose ancient culture and history blend harmoniously with it modern cities. The government is continuously investing in transportation and accommodation infrastructure projects in order to attract more and more foreign tourist and investors each year.
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