Now it is time to move forward with our neighbors including foreigners
When I was a high school student I had a friend who was sorry for her gender, I was too young to understand why she had that idea. However while I was growing up I realized what her thought was totally. Korea is paternal society so only man could hand down their families that was why having boys was crucial matters all the Korean families. Women had no power in their families only men could decide all the matters in their families. Of course children had no power or no rights to have a voice, obedience was a virtue.
We Koreans had to struggle with our extreme poor in the past. Korean War devastated our land, we had to boost our economy with shortage of resources so we had to endure the hard time all together under the name of "tightening our belts all together". It required to have frugal lifestyle, to accept low salaries, working early age and a long work hour, to allow restricting human rights under the name of sacrifice for families, country. We spread those of ideas easily because Confucianism is deeply engraved on our mind, we respect the virtues of Confucian ideas of harmony, royalty, respect and so on.
There was another idea which gave huge impact on Korean, it was anticommunism. Korea was divided two countries due to Korean War so communism was kind of sinful meaning in South Korea in those days, so someone who has a different opinion of North Korea could not live in South Korea including one's family. Sometimes Korean government took advantage of it to control people so speaking out something against the government was extremely dangerous.
I guess those of two things contributed to make people uncomfortable; pointing out different direction or having a different voice with the others. In this circumstance moving forward to get over poverty and communism all together was only matter so no one could have different voices. Freedoms of expression and press, assembly and association were not allowed. Having a different idea or voice was taboo because it caused huge problems not only a person who was a kind of hindrance of the movement but also the whole family. Silence was a virtue, eloquence was not, Modesty was a virtue, outstanding was not.
I was growing up in those days, I had to obey my parents, teachers, all the elderly. Even though when they did not do properly I could not say anything. Back talking and answering "no" was considered rebellious, whenever I saw not proper behaviors of grown ups I doubted the idea why children could not have their own idea, and why grown ups could not keep their words. That is why I encouraged my children and my students having their own voices, gave them room to create their own ideas, make them willing to express their own ideas. I believed that it would work well. They can speak their own ideas freely however they do not look back themselves properly just saying without doing what they say or without considering others, insisting only their rights ignoring their obligation. I could not recognize the value of confucianism morality, harmony, respect and so on. Confucian ideas is engraved on my mind deeply so I do know what proper behavior and mind clearly so I do not have any problems however I looked over the value of it so I focused on autonomy of individuals. What I noticed is that the balance of confucian ideas and autonomy is important. Now I am trying to teach my students and my children the value of confucianism for building upright character, I feel if I do not explain details they do not know how to behave properly.
Korea was one of the poor countries so we looked up developed countries. Most of developed countries were in Europe and North America because of that most of Koreans had a stereo type of caucasian I think. During the process of modernization we tried to obtain western stuffs, accept foreign culture indiscriminately. I guess this kind of concept causes the different attitude toward caucasian foreigners and the other foreigners(mostly asian), it is wrong concept so we have to change that attitude as soon as possible I think. Whenever I heard of that kind of attitude I am really sorry for them and I'd like to apologize what they did. It is really shame.
On the other hand we underestimated our own culture and stuffs so neglected to preserve our tradition or abandoned it. We have realized that we have lots of precious things and tradition so nowadays we have tried to preserve and pass on it. I think I was one of them so I thought korean stuffs were outdated, replaced them with foreign ones which seemed reasonable and modern including system, ideas, customs and so on. I do not think what we have is not worthy anymore. I have a dream to live in Han-ok which is Korean traditional house and I believe someday I could make it.
Actually I was not proud of being Korean. I think some Koreans thought only from our point of view so it could make people uncomfortable. (ex. pushing people do something quickly even though it is not relevant for them or for their sake, do not respect others thinking or idea sometimes not ignoring others but helping others and so on) We were in hurry to boost our economy with sacrifice our rights, postpone our happiness for a long time. It made us to be accustomed to do everything quickly, look only ahead pursuing our goal, now it is time to consider our neighbors including foreigners. I think we have to try hard to move forward with poor people, weak people, disabled people, multi-cultural families and so on to make better world for all of us.