What are the Effects of Globalization: In South Korea?
Globalization is a complex concept that presents difficulties when defined within a given timeframe or when defined discretely. Al-Rodhan (3) defines globalization as involving economic integration, knowledge transmission; transfer of policies across boarders, stability of culture, relations, reproduction and the discourses of power. Globalization is seen as a concept, a revolution and a global process. It is the removal of the sociopolitical control from an established global market. Globalization involves many things and has been variously defined over the years. Generally, it encompasses progress, cooperation and integration, stability and development; while in another sense it may involve colonialism, regression and destabilization.
The need for globalization
Shin (10) explains that the government of South Korea under the leadership of Kim Young Sam announced its drive for globalization in 1994 in Sydney and set up the committee to promote globalization. The reasons outlined by the government in adopting globalization were the challenges brought by the globalization in the twentieth century. Korea was also seen as having been successful in industrialization and modernization but had not been well equipped for globalization. The process of globalization in South Korea was also influenced by the demand for social and economic reform by the International Monetary Fund. The government realized the strategic value held by the Koreans who were overseas and in the year 2000 enacted a law that created global Korean Community based on globalization, particularly the internet which would create a global network for the Koreans through communication within the peninsula and even beyond.
Globalization and South Korea’s adjustment in foreign policy
In globalization, culture is seen as an important dimension. Globalization impacted negatively on the culture of South Korea through the proliferation of the western culture which diluted the national culture. A cultural identity that is distinctive generally promotes competitiveness in the global society as far as the cultural industries are considered. Korea has therefore been grappling with the challenge of strengthening its cultural identity in the wake of globalization. The government made the cultural concerns an important part of the government policy in strengthening national development (Yim 43).
In adopting globalization, South Korea has taken a complementary educational policy that has established a system of education that is flexible to enable the country adopt with the trading conditions brought about by globalization. The global economy requires highly skilled labor force and South Korea under the influence of globalization has adjusted accordingly. Currently, the country has a highly educated population with well developed domestic software industries. Korea is seen to have taken advantage of globalization to greatly improve its economy and other aspects even though it faces some challenges. With the expansion in its education sector that majorly focused on the technical subjects that facilitated production of goods for export, the Korean export products show evidence of an increase in the labor’s skill content (Velde 12-13).
According to Chai (19) the financial crisis that caught Asia in 1997 made South Korea to globalize its labor sector by restructuring. The accompanying reforms in the financial sector and particularly in banking that limited the companies from relying on short term financing and the subsequent liberalization of its markets saw a dramatic increase in the ownership of equities of listed companies by firms from outside countries especially from the United States and the United Kingdom. As much as the liberalization has had a positive impact in the long run, initially the rates of downsizing by companies with the intention of increasing flexibility and profitability led to loss of jobs by many Koreans. Globalization made most of the corporations in South Korea to divulge from the practices of employing permanently in order to keep up with the global pace and competition. This had a negative impact as many employees lost their jobs but as the country adjusted structurally, it eventually became advantageous by enabling the country to compete successfully on the global front.
Analyzing the situation in South Korea, globalization has had both positive and negative influences. The following are the advantages realized: It has increased trade between the country and the rest of the world, It has improved the liquidity of capital hence foreign investors have invested in the country, corporations in the country are now more flexible in operating in foreign countries, there has been increased flow of communication which has enable the sharing of information all over the country, there has been a reduction in cultural barriers. There have also been disadvantages that resulted from globalization such as the spread of lifestyles that are highly materialistic, the corporate influence in the country has exceeded that of the civil society and individuals while skilled labor from outside has flowed into the country. Generally globalization has been more advantageous to South Korea as a nation.
Al-Rodhan, Nuerberg. “Definitions of Globalization: A Comprehensive Overview and Proposed Definition.” Program on the Geopolitical Implications of Globalization and Transnational Security, Geneva Centre for Security Policy (2006)
Chai, Dominic. “The Impact of Foreign Corporate Ownership on Downsizing and Labor Cost.” Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge Working Paper No. 402 (2010)
Shin, Gi-Wook. “The paradox of Korean Globalization.” California: Asia/Pacific Research Centre, Stanford University (2005)
Velde, Dirk. “Globalization and Education: What do the trade, investment and migration literatures tell us?” London: Overseas Development Institute, Working Paper 254 (2005)
Yim, Jongoe. “Cultural identity and cultural policy in South Korea.” The International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2002 Vol. 8 (1), pp. 37–48 (2004)
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