Overview of Korea Today
Despite being known as the “Land of the Morning Calm,” Korea has endured turbulent times for much of its multi-thousand year history. It has survived invasions by numerous empires, colonization, and a political split into northern and southern nations. Tensions within the Korean peninsula remain, but the Republic of Korea, or South Korea as it is more commonly called, has prospered to a degree no one could have predicted. An economic shift away from agriculture and toward industry, technology, and services began in the 1960s and has proved extremely successful, and Korea is now one of the most advanced countries on earth. The Korean economy has grown into one of the top 15 globally, and a multi-party democratic system has provided governmental stability. Much of Korea’s miraculous development over the last 50 years has been achieved by looking forward, but that doesn’t mean that Koreans have forgotten their history or abandoned their traditions. Korea today is a modern and vibrant nation in which traditional culture stands alongside a glittering future.
A Snapshot of Korean Culture
The essence of Korean culture is based on harmony and order, a stark contrast with an American mainstream culture that stresses individualism. Influenced by Confucianism, Koreans value harmony within family, community, and society as a whole. They have strong family ties, and place great value on education, hard work, and ambition. Confucianism considers fathers to be responsible for their families and custom demands that they be both obeyed and revered. Even ancestral fathers are honored. The custom is called filiopiety and elements of it remain among Koreans today. These traditional values are often challenged, however, by younger generations influenced by Western culture.