I was reading an article on a website that deals with issues of diabetes written by David Mendosa. He was commenting on how hard the people of Korea work.
First of all he laid the background for his observation:
The Koreans have wrought an economic miracle. I don't know of any other country that has developed so rapidly. Just four decades ago, gross domestic product per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. My Korean friends say that Korea was poorer than Ethiopia then.Then he makes a statement that can only be the result of a public school education:
The miracle owes a lot to this country's indomitable quest for education and willingness of its people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. That quest in turn owns much to the Confucian work ethic.I have no quarrel with the hard work and success of the Korean people. I do have a quarrel with the politically correct interpretation of why they are now having that success.
There are two factors that are totally ignored in this statement: Capitalism and Christianity. I am not an expert on Korea but I think that one difference between the North and South is that the south has free market capitalism and the north has government run socialism. My guess is that the Korean miracle began about 50 years ago at the end of what we call the Korean war.
I would also guess that the time we are looking at was the beginning of the massive increase in the number of Christians and churches in Korea. Again, the south has a strong Christian presence and the north is an atheist state. Some of the largest, if not the largest, churches in the world are now in Korea. Korea is sending missionaries to the United States and other areas.
The ideas and teachings of Confucius have been around for centuries. It never seemed to produce an economic miracle before. I would also like to know if anyone else has heard of a “Confucian work ethic.” Confucius taught respect for authority and I guess that hard work is a part of that but we generally think of the Protestant work ethic associated with the Puritans. It could just be my parochial education. Is it any coincidence that the major church in Korea is Presbyterian which has a lot in common with the teachings of the Puritans?
Too many people are willing to ignore the obvious effects on the quality of life that free market capitalism and the moral foundations of Christianity bring to a culture. While we are on that, how about another country that is much more associated with Confucius than Korea, China. It is also going through an economic miracle. Guess what you find in China at this time. A turning to capitalism and tremendous growth of the church.
In case your were wondering, that lump in the middle of your face is a nose.
homo unius libri