Korea as the next superpower?!?!??!?!

After reading this article by Hank Hyena, where he builds the case for Korea to become the world’s next superpower, I can’t say I totally agree with him, but he makes a pretty decent case.

According to him, a unified Korea is ripe to be a huge player in the world.  He lists off several criteria such as:

e-Democracy – The idea that the public’s voice is more heard than in other less wired nations.

Hardworking Economy – The idea that Korea’s annual growth since 1960’s until now could have Korea rivaling Japan by 2050… a unified Korea, that is.

Robot Future – Korea leads the world in robotics technology and will probably pioneer the robot age, eventually leading to a society like in the movie I, Robot, with Korea as its center.

Military Might – The combined military strength of both North and South Korea along with any estimates in nuclear and shipbuilding technology makes Korea’s the strongest military in the world.

Massive Mineral Wealth – Apparently, North Korea is built over the motherlode.  If Korea unites and infrastructure is bestowed upon North Korea, then  Korea will be super rich.

Education - Echoing sentiments from U.S. President Barack Obama.  The Korean thirst for knowledge is second to none.

Green Goals – Korea is poised to dominate the new Green industry.

Cyber Warfare - Korea’s IT knowhow is set up to counter North Korea’s.  If they could stop working against each other, then they’ll be super strong and able to take down any nation they want at any time.

Well what do I think about it?

First of all, expecting Korea’s economy to continue to grow at the same rate as between 1960-2000 forever is a bit too optimistic.  It’s kind of like how when Japan was in the midst of the bubble in the mid to late 1980’s, and people talked about how in the future, Japanese would be the center of the Earth.  If you remember in Back to the Future, Marty McFly’s  boss was Japanese, as it appeared that they ran corporate America by 2015.  That might have been possible if Japan didn’t go through their lost decade in the 1990’s.

There are many unforseen factors that will occur between now and 2050, so I think its’ foolhardy to expect a constant growth rate that high. That said, I think Korea’s economy will definitely continue to grow.

Next, I have nits to pick with the author’s idea of Korean military might and education.

North Korea’s army is so large because all men must spend more than a decade in the North Korean military.  South Korea’s men must spend 2 years in the military specifically because of North Korea’s massive army.  If they were to reunify, then there’d be no need for such a huge military, nor would any mandatory military service be necessary.  Combined Korea’s military wouldn’t be so huge.  High tech, perhaps, but not in any way so numerous.

Finally.. Education.  If I were to tell you my exact thoughts on the Korean education system, It would have to be a 5 part series of articles.  Only know this, no country is perfect, and all countries have problems.  Koreans themselves freely admit that the Korean education system has serious flaws.  Furthermore 97% of people with degrees sounds good, but how about that competition for finding jobs in whatever field you studied?  I feel sorry for Korean children who don’t have a childhood as carefree as mine was.  Instead so many Korean kids study too much, get little sleep and exercise, and don’t know how to act socially.  I do realize that as someone who was raised in the U.S., I’m looking at the situation as seen through my own America filtered lens, but one commenter on that blog I read the article had this to say:

I’m currently a high school student in South Korea, and I can’t agree with you on the part about education. The education we receive here is mostly memorizing and learning how to solve problems faster. All South Korean students have to take a test called Su Neung to go to college, so most of the studying is oriented at getting a good score. There is very little room for creativity in our education system, and after three years of ‘intense training’, most South Korean students become problem solving machines instead of being creative. This is why South Korea has no Nobel Prize winners in science. Overeall, I think this article is a huge exaggeration of SK’s education system and South Korea in general.

I can certainly agree with the author that Korea’s importance in the world will grow a lot in the next 50 years or so, but I agree with this commenter that he seems to be a bit too optimistic.

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11 Responses to “Korea as the next superpower?!?!??!?!”

  1. Gina Joy Says:

    I have to agree with the thoughts you quote on education. The press is always knocking the U.S educational system as falling behind the world in many areas. I think this may prove true if you base it on a test score in knowledge of say math, science, geography, etc. I feel that this is due to a difference in focus. While many of the world’s educational systems focus on learning facts, the U.S focuses on how to find information, how to use it, how to write about it, and most importantly on the higher order thinking skills necessary to analyze facts, compare and contrast them, synthesize them, use them to create new problems to explore. And creativity is valued. Also while there is the SAT and ACT college level assessment tests, these are only one factor of the total college entrance requirements. Each person is urged to find his strength and specialize in that, not fit into a mold exclusively determined by what will be tested.

  2. 2050 is too fast… The reunification would take quite a while itself.

    I read the article he wrote lol Nobody can predict what will happen in 40 years but I think he only wrote Korea would be a superpower in 2050 just to stimulate people to read his article haha

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      That’s possible as well. I don’t think 2050 is too fast. They can do it right now, but they’d have to sacrifice 10 years of decent economy. In the long term it’s great for the country, but in the short term it sucks for everyone in South Korea.

  3. After finishing the Korean War, Korea was the one of the undeveloped countries in the world. But Korea achived rapid economic growth. I think if the education system of Korea hadn’t exsisted, economic growth never would’ve happend to Korea. Because in a competition, Korea achived economic growth. (In korea many students have to compete with other students to enter the good university. So I think the education system in Korea is based on the competition. ) But we should make our education system better for a better future. Because the education is one of the crucial factors for korea’s better future. It;s just my humble opinion *^^*

  4. yeah,,,i think that’s true^^

  5. As The Seoul Searcher said, this is too optimistic.
    In my opinion, Korea has enough potential to advance more than now, though.

    One of the reasons is Korea has strong cultural power.
    I’ve been to several Asia countries and I have a lot of Asian friends. From my experience and my friends, I realized how much a number of people like “the Korean Wave”. Korean pop music and drama are so popular among them. That makes them want to travel to Korea and buy poducts made in Korea by having a good image about Korea.
    But there’re lots of people who don’t know about Korea well in non-Aisa countries. That’s why Korea has still long way to go.

    • The Seoul Searcher Says:

      What about Japanese culture though? Would you say that this is equally popular in Asia, or more popular?

      • Of course, Japan has strong cultural power :) Japan is one of strong countries in terms of culture, economy and others!

        How about Korea?

        ‘The Korean Wave’ got to be popular just several years ago. (maybe 10 at most?) Cultural contents industry in Korea has been getting strong by investing of many investors aware of how much potential contents of Korean has;

        I cannot say all countries which have strong cultural power have ‘superpower’, but I can say many countries which have ‘superpower’ have strong cultural power.

        So I think Korea has enough potential to be advanced more than now..

        • The Seoul Searcher Says:

          Yeah, I guess that makes sense.

          I think it would be nice though if people (including myself) didn’t think of Korean culture competing against Japanese or Chinese or American or whatever culture. Culture is fluid…

  6. This is a great article, but after of all, instead talk of education, military and other facts. You put your shoes on the ground, Corea will be a superpower country, thats for sure, but witch the critic you made about the system it makes for better.

    I Hope more liked articles like this, good job.

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