My op-ed went up at OhmyNews earlier on Wednesday. Check it out!
Tearing Down the Walls of Confucianism
March 6, 2008
Last Monday, Lee Myung-bak was sworn in as South Korea’s new president amidst a general sense of excitement and anticipation about whether he’ll be able to fulfill his ambitious economic goals for the country. Some of these goals are fueled by education policies that seek to increase the English-language proficiency of South Korea’s citizens—the impetus of which is to prepare Korea for a flatter world in which it will serve as a significant Asian financial and commercial hub. While I find these policies noteworthy, I also believe them to be premature—needing, as they do, to at least coincide with (if not follow) an effort to liberate South Koreans from strict Confucian social structures and a collective thinking that hinders a majority of its citizens from being effective beyond their country’s borders.
I began to ruminate on this last week while reading on South Korean politics and attending the Socrates Society Seminar on “Democracy in America” at the Aspen Institute. A motley group, America’s founding fathers were as diverse as possible for their time—a fact which allowed for the brewing of new ideas, compromises and a continuation of the concepts that emerged during the Enlightenment and became a reality in this experimental new nation. Their fledgling democracy, however, was neither perfect nor complete, and its ideals of liberty faced a direct threat from issues of slavery and women’s suffrage.... (full op-ed)