Attitudes of South Korean College Students towards Globalization

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INTRODUCTION

In 2007, Dr. Helena Czepiech, Dr. Juanita Roxas and Yin-Tzu Jao of California State University and the author wrote a paper on the College Women's Attitudes Towards Globalization: Comparing Views from the US, Taiwan and the Philippines. The study showed that college students surveyed in these three countries had favorable attitudes on globalization (Czepiech, Roxas, Jao and Suplico, 2007). While on a stint as visiting professor in Seoul, the author decided to study the attitudes towards globalization of college students in a private university.

The A.T. Kearney Globalization Index ranked South Korea as the 29th most global economy in the world based on rankings of 62 countries in 2006 (A.T. Kearney Globalization Index. Retrieved February 11, 2008 from http://www.atkearney.com). The Globalization Index was based on technological, political and economic factors. The Index does not measure attitudes towards globalization. However, AC Nielsen's global online survey on consumers' attitudes on globalization showed that one-fifth of South Koreans did not agree that global companies allow consumers to gain access to the same quality of goods and services available to anyone else in the world (Consumer Insights into Globalization. Retrieved February 12, 2008 from http://www2.acnielsen.com/reports/index_consumer.shtml). This attitude reflects a concern that globalization may threaten the viability of Korean-made products.

Gi-Wook Shin (2006) stressed that Korean's strong nationalist character does not oppose globalization. On the contrary, this nationalism is a strong feature of Korean globalization. According to Shin (2006), the Koreans view globalization as a means to achieve a competitive edge for the nation. As an example, Shin cites the Korean attitude towards the English language. He pointed out that Koreans would support making English their second official language since it could enhance their national interests but they would not support it as the official language that would replace Korean. Further, Shin (2006) noted that nationalism and globalization can coexist in South Korea.

The South Korean government decided to pursue the "Segyehwa (globalization)" policy in late 1994 (Shin, 2006). As part of segyehwa, the government encouraged greater competition, privatization, and deregulation within the booming Korean economy (South Korea. Retrieved April 9, 2008 from http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0019805.html). To develop a competent workforce who can think and work globally, the government planned to shorten the compulsory military duty for young males who volunteer for foreign aid services as part of its efforts to encourage global youth leaders (Dae-wong, 2008). Further, the government, corporate and education sectors agreed to increase the number of young Koreans who will be familiar with foreign languages and culture.

Exposure to foreign languages and cultures have become easier with the popularity of Korean films, TV dramas and pop music. This phenomenon, known as the "Korean Wave", has exposed Koreans to foreign cultures in their own country (Chul-keun, 2008). The Korean Wave contributed to the increase of incoming tourists to South Korea. The number of foreign tourists traveling to South Korea leapt from 2.8 million in 2003 to 3.7 million in 2004 (Faoila, 2006). The bulk of these tourists were Korean Wave-loving Asian women.

With the deregulation of outbound pleasure travel by the South Korean government in 1989, and the national obsession with globalization, overseas travel had increased at an annual average growth rate of 21.3% prior to the Asian economic downturn (Lim, 2003). South Koreans made the United States their No. 1 choice when they make their first trip abroad (Frank, 1995). In 1994, the South Koreans became the third largest national group, behind Japan and Hong Kong, in the number of incoming tourists to the US (Frank, 1995). …