Going Global in New Millennium; Globalization as Personal and Group Choice

Article excerpt

The role of private citizens and associations has not been greatly discussed in the globalization process of Korea. For the most part, it has been government statements and moves as well as actions taken by businesses that the media has chosen to cover. Thus, President Kim Dae-jung's advice to students at Kwangju First High School on November 3, 1999 to learn English and become global citizens was widely reported. More recently, there has been coverage of the President's comments to the National Economic Advisory Council on Tokyo moves toward adopting English as the second official language for Japan. Chaebol reform has also received scrutiny. To be sure, all of this is understandable. However, it should not be forgotten that globalization is not just a national or business decision but also a personal and group one.

At this point, it would be only fair to state my personal biases when it comes to Korean globalization. I am a foreigner who possesses dual citizenship. My country of birth is Pakistan and I was raised in Canada. I have attended Canadian universities as well as UCLA. The latter was a conscience decision on my part to internationalize my education and to make myself more marketable in the global economy. Considering I am a visiting professor at the Global Leadership Institute of the KAIST Graduate School of Management, I think it would be accurate to say that the more Korea globalizes, the more likely I am to be successful. Thus, Korean globalization is very much in my personal interests.

Today, many Koreans are making similar personal decisions when it comes to the globalization process that is unfolding in this country. There has been an upsurge in the number of students taking English or other majors where the medium of instruction is English. The interest in studying e-commerce, e-business and venture businesses, etc. is at an all-time high. When I speak to my students, I see a mixture of fear and consternation as well as optimism when it comes to globalization. However, there seems to be a growing recognition that, like it or not, they will have to be global citizens in the new millennium. Most of them seem to have made a personal decision to try to prepare themselves for that eventuality.

Many people who have made the choice to embrace globalization are working with others who are like-minded. Most of these people coalesce in government agencies or in the business world. …