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.