Going Global in New Millennium - (9); 21C. Resolution: Open Nationalism

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), November 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Going Global in New Millennium - (9); 21C. Resolution: Open Nationalism


Practically all nations on earth are preparing ceremonial events for the new millennium in their own way. What are the purposes of these festivities? Perhaps they want to express their determination to build a better world in the new century, whether or not they feel they have been successful in the present century.

Our government is also planning to celebrate the new millennium. If God asks me to make only three wishes for the coming century, I will name peaceful reunification, secure democracy and open nationalism.

Since the founding of the Republic of Korea in 1948, our nation has been struggling for peaceful reunification and democracy. We have failed to achieve the first but have succeeded in achieving the second. These two tasks should have been accomplished in the 20th century.

Open nationalism is a new task Korea should fulfill in the 21st century. Open nationalism is the most effective means to make the most of globalization. Globalization which began in the third quarter of the 20th century is unprecedented in history in terms of speed, scale and dimension. It has spread faster and more widely than in any previous age and it has taken place in every field of human endeavor -- political, economic, social, cultural and intellectual.It can be both beneficial and harmful to mankind, depending on how nations cope with it.

Most sovereign roles in modern times are played by nation-states whose ideological foundation is nationalism. Under these circumstances, if nationalism is not adjusted to the new international environment, nation-states will suffer immensely from globalization.

Nationalism has three distinct characteristics:

First, it can maintain stability within a state but it can disturb peace among states. Second, the rulers of a state can suppress their people and deprive them of fundamental freedoms and human rights with impunity because states enjoy sovereign rights in the international community. Third, nationalism fosters both isolationism and imperialism. When a nation-state is obsessed with the purity of its cultural identity, it becomes isolationist. When it is convinced of the superiority of its national heritage, it becomes imperialist.

Globalization is characterized by interdependence of states, interpenetration of sovereign rights, the convergence of behavioral norms and patterns, the multiplication of non-governmental international organizations, activities and human networks and the proliferation of global issues.

In view of these characteristics of nationalism and globalization, Korean nationalism should be transformed into the following:

First, it should not insist on the purity of the Korean language. No language can remain pure in the modern world. This will become more true in the 21st century. A language will become richer and more ``civilized'' if it accommodates foreign languages. Korea should also consider seriously the idea of making English the second official language, because it is certain that English will become the lingua franca of the world in the new millennium.

Second, Korea should seek an open cultural policy. The Korean people should be freely exposed to any foreign culture and enjoy them. As in the case of language, a culture is enriched by constant contact with other cultures. If culture remains isolated, it will decay as water enclosed in a ditch. We should remember that the Athenians rejoiced in a cosmopolitan civilization because they absorbed the languages and customs of the entire Hellenic and non-Hellenic worlds.

The Koreans need not fear losing their cultural identity. Rather, they should fear losing the chance of enjoying other cultures. …

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