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South Korea - it takes a long time to become young

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In 1973, a military officer forcibly cuts a young man's hair in the street. Park created the Minor Offences Act to legalize the abuse of power. Park helped industrialize South Korea and ensured that democracy could not take hold. The full spectrum of democratic characteristics would not be known in South Korea until this decade. Korea Times file
By Amanda Price

Recently, I read an article by a distinguished statesman who offered his insight into the feud between Japan and South Korea.

Of course, it was the opinion of an "outsider," or rather a guest, but nonetheless his expertise, his love for the Korean people, and his understanding of Korea's cultural history gave weight to the article.

To my reading, his opinions were expressed in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. If an article can be referred to as 'kind-hearted', then his article, at least in my opinion, was exactly that.

My opinion was not that of the majority.

Ensuing articles responded to the original, and it was clear that many South Koreans, or at least the writers of the articles, did not appreciate being compared to the Japanese, even if that comparison was not unfavorable.

To me, the responses, some written by highly respected journalists, revealed qualities that I found very surprising (although not in a condescending way).

Reading the responding articles, with their passion and energy, their indignation and fierce love of independence, I found myself wondering where I had seen these qualities before.

After reflection, I realized that this abundance of overflowing emphasises, this repulsion at comparison, and this fierce desire to be treated with respect were qualities more often identified with youth than old age.

Of course, Korea is not a young nation. Its complex past stretches back to the first millennium, and even further to times when myth and history were intertwined.

Among the tribe of nations that inhabit this earth, Korea is an elder, deserving the respect earned through centuries of survival and endurance.

The nation that we know as South Korea, however, and more importantly, present day South Korea is by contrast, young … perhaps younger than many realize.

As a country, South Korea has existed for only 71 years.

It has lived fewer years than the average span of a human lifetime and in its present form is still in its youth.

Let us consider its life's journey.

At the end of the Korean War, only 64 years ago, South Korea was one of the world's poorest, most disadvantaged nations.

The newly demarcated South Korea, emerged from the Korean War devastated and scarred
beyond recognition. As the war closed, there was no V-day, no parties in the street, no
church bells ― only a nation uncertain of what the future would be.

As many nations........

© The Korea Times