The Patriotism of South Koreans

Manila Bulletin, November 5, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Patriotism of South Koreans


In a recent trip to Seoul and surrounding cities, delivering lectures in some universities, my attention was called to the way South Koreans would behave every time their national anthem is played. Everyone of them would sing with gusto and feeling. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about many Filipinos in a similar situation. Often, they would just listen to the recorded music without joining in the singing. Some of them may not even have memorized all the words of the song.This may be an insignificant detail to some. But it speaks volumes about how the virtue of patriotism still has to be instilled in Filipinos, especially among the young. It was providential that when I returned from South Korea, I found in my email a message by a certain Buboy Reago, whom I thank for this heart-warming essay of a young Korean by the name of Jaeyoun Kim. I am sure other authors already have commented on the same essay. But I want to give it wider dissemination.The article is entitled "My Short Essay about the Philippines." Let me quote the initial paragraphs: "Filipinos always complain about the corruption in the Philippines. Do you really think that corruption is the problem of the Philippines? I do not think so. I strongly believe that the problem is the lack of love for the Philippines. Let me first talk about my country, Korea. It might help you understand my point...After the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Koreans had to start from scratch because the entire country was destroyed after the Korean War, and we had no natural resources. Koreans used to talk about the Philippines, for Filipinos were very rich in Asia. We envied Filipinos. Koreans really wanted to be well off like Filipinos. Many Koreans died of famine. My father and brother also died because of famine. The Korean government was very corrupt and is still very corrupt beyond your imagination, but Korea was able to develop dramatically because Koreans really did their best for the common good with their heart burning with patriotism."Jaeyoun Kim continued to describe how his people faced all sorts of challenges and sufferings during the regime of their authoritarian leader, Park Chung Hee. Many of them, like the overseas Filipino workers today, had to go to work to Germany and other more advanced countries to be able to support their families. …

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