A half century of uphill struggle against poverty has shaped Korean culture in some truly admirable ways. Instead of tangling themselves in the two faced intransigence of humility and vanity, they’ve chosen to cut this Gordian knot and, for that, they are better off.
Talon Abernathy 민호수
Personally, I would not characterize highest suicide rates in the world as evidence of “better off”. High suicide rates reveal the clash between traditional values and acceptance of vanity is destroying the fabric of South Korean society. When we see South Korean athletes excel at the Olympics, we see young people who have subscribed to traditional values of a strong work ethic — not the vainglorious teen who goes under the knife to make himself or herself more handsome or beautiful.
By the way, how exactly does the Olympic Committee classify men and women nowadays? It could have been the camera, but I could have sworn there were men who could have been classified as women competing as men. How long before we have four classifications for speed skating? Men (M), Women (W), Men who have transitioned to Women (MW), Women who have transitioned to Men (WM). Better still for experiential insights and with the four classifications explicitly in place, we should just have the MW compete with the W, and the WM compete with the M. That way, we have within-group competitions for bragging rights between M and WM, or between W and MW. Could be insightful for the debate between Creationism and Evolution.
Anyway, back on track.
What is the source of the tension within South Korean society, tension which is inducing of high rates of suicide?
No society can remain true to itself and dissociate itself from moral values or ethics of human interactions. Societies which have become accepting of adultery still have adultery on the books as grounds for dissolution of marriage (e.g. Nigeria and USA). Societies which value vanity — big houses and cars etc. — still place a premium on people kneeling or prostrating to greet their poor elders.
Whenever societies in practice deviate from morality or place premium on vanity, they simultaneously never have the courage to explicitly admit the deviation. Admission of the deviation they realize induces chaos within society, chaos which ultimately is unmanageable. It is this cognitive dissonance — acceptance in practice of certain behaviors, and simultaneous recognition of destructive power of explicit specification of such behavior as acceptable — which induces despair (drug addictions, jumping from one marriage to another, sociopathic or psychopathic behaviors) or suicidal tendencies within a society.
I do not envy South Koreans the cognitive dissonance that is at heart of the destruction of fabric of their society.