Korea is being crushed between low-cost countries, and high-cost-but-innovative countries. If Korea is to survive as a First World country, it must become more creative. Korea must become the Finland of Asia.
I spent some time in Korea this week, searching for creativity examples. I’ll share some examples in the future, because Korea is full of amazing people. I will remark here about two socio-cultural opportunities for Korea to improve.
#1: Nourish Creativity
I worked for three years in Korea’s technology research capitol, Daejeon. Samsung, LG, and other tech firms develop new technology alongside university and governmental research facilities. While living in Korea, I often heard the complaint that Korea “needs to be more creative.”
I disagree. I believe that Koreans are very creative. Korea is a world leader in patent registration. But I have a theory, based on a few data points.
I postulate that Koreans excel in creative potential, based on the neuroscientist’s view of creativity: when the brain needs to understand something new or to solve a new problem, it accesses memories. Because Koreans study so much, they have more data to access for solving problems.
However, once creative young people graduate and join companies, their ideas are crushed. In the strict top-down management style of the culture, only the boss has good ideas, and subordinates follow. Young people stop proposing ideas after they are crushed a few times.
If young Koreans were able to propose ideas and act on them, their creativity muscles would grow rather than shrink. And companies would greatly benefit.
#2: Look to the future, not the past
Stoking resentment against certain ethnic groups or social classes by those with power agendas is not confined to Korea. It was the basis of both Marxism/Leninism and National Socialism, which both seem to be resurging rather than shrinking. Korea has their own version: hating Japan.
“I love Japanese, but I hate Japan,” I often hear Koreans say.
My advice to Korea and to everyone in the world: turn away from hatred. A few individuals seem to benefit when they make others angry against Japan for their behavior during the colonial era. Many Japanese soldiers mistreated Korea, like the Mongols and soldiers in some Chinese dynasties. But no one stages anti-Mongolian rallies in Korea. I suppose the memory is more vivid because the Japanese colonial era is more recent. But Japan has also assisted Korea’s economy in many ways. Along with the U.S., they funded corporate growth. They also built crucial infrastructure.
Misbehavior should never be excused. But looking to the future is more beneficial than ruminating on the past. Fueling resentment for ancient misdeeds does not build a glorious future. Please let the wounds heal, and move forward.
Korea is just an example here for all of us. Many people in the world are caught in hate cycles, either because someone earns more money or because someone is an outsider. Everyone in the world needs to change in two ways:
1. You are ignoring an important source of creative ideas.
2. You resent someone or something, and that resentment is a creativity block.
::: Be fierce. Be kind. Be knowledge-hungry. :::