What Is Jung And How Can We Kill It?, Part 4
On Monday we talked about out-sourcing social functions. Tuesday morning we went into why there’s always a best way to do anything. On Wednesday I showed you how Koreans make a big deal out of jung because it is their essential humanity asserting itself over their essential Koreanness. Today I’m going to go back a couple steps and talk about how good ideas are changing Korea, and how good ideas beget bad ones.
South Korea has, since its inception, been reasonably open to foreign influence. This openness is offset by a definite innate Korean protectionism, which seeks to take in as little that is foreign as is necessary while preserving as much that is Korean as possible. Of course, as I said earlier, much of what we consider to be ‘Korean culture’ or ‘Western Culture’ is just a long list of practices, some of which are relatively good and others of which are relatively bad. This is not earth-shattering stuff here. Drinking like a Korean and eating like an American will both kill you. So what?
So although plenty of cultural transmission has occurred from the West to Korea. Most notably, Western legal traditions, democracy, and financial systems. All good stuff, not because it’s Western, but because it’s time tested and has pretty much beaten out all the competition.
The problem is, you can’t open the door to good things without getting a lot of other useless junk as well. Korea got democracy and spam at the same time, after all. And the education system and the abuse associated with the education system came together as well. Look at us in the US. We got sushi and ramen at the same time. The thing is, we’re not usually in a position to make these perfect determinations of what exactly is desirable and what is not. We have to take the bath water with the baby, it would seem.
I call such things that spread from culture to culture on the strength of the culture of origin more than their own merit cultural junk DNA. The question then becomes what is more likely to jump from one culture to another, something useful or something catchy?
Well, you know people.
Furthermore, how can Korean culture be changed to make jung the norm instead of the exception?
Find out tomorrow in the shocking conclusion of this series, only at the Joshing Gnome.