Posted : 2013-05-23 20:54
Updated : 2013-05-23 20:54

What does Korea look like from India?

TCA Srinivasa Raghavan, left, editorial adviser of the Hindu Group of Publications, gives a presentation titled "Contemporary Korea: A Media Perspective from India" at a forum organized by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, Monday.
/ Courtesy of AKS

Tech-savvy, organized but too westernized

By Chung Ah-young

A poll shows that Indian journalists have a "uni-dimensional" view of Korea ― it has fast Internet, wide access to high-technology and is well organized, but it is too westernized.

TCA Srinivasa Raghavan, editorial adviser of the Hindu Group of Publications, said that Indian media professionals regard Korea as a hothouse of electronics, IT and mobile technology and admire it for having achieved super-fast social change in just two generations, while reconciling traditional values and modernity.

Raghavan gave a presentation titled "Contemporary Korea: A Media Perspective from India" at a forum organized by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS) in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. The seminar was designed to expand the spectrum of Korean studies in time for the opening of the Research Center for Modern Korea on April 15 within the academy.

"Thanks to Samsung, LG, POSCO, Hyundai and other Korean companies, and of course the CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), Korea looms large in the business sector of Indian media. The story is one of outstanding success. However, other aspects of Korea, such as politics, the economy, culture, history, and foreign policy do not find much space in the media in India," he said.

This view is also surprising given the 20-years of diplomatic relations between India and Korea which have become much closer. "There is much for India to learn from modern Korea, especially in the matters of IT, urbanization, transport, manufacturing, work culture, focused leadership and, last but not least, dealing with the big powers of the world such as the United States and China. Korea has been singularly successful in achieving a good balance of policies in each of these areas," he said.

Korea is often described as "nimble, agile, mobile, innovative" but copies American culture too much. He said Indian journalists who have visited Korea mention how westernized it is. "Korea has given up its traditional religion, music and appearance. What we see in Korean music is a hit song Gangnam Style. That was the first musical impact that Korea had in India," he said.

He added that one of the mysteries foreigners encounter are the contradictions of Korean culture. "Korea is very anxious to expose its culture to the rest of the world. When I watch Korean television, I can see how much it can be influenced by American television. This is a contradiction we foreigners don't understand. How can you export Korean culture when you are such a big importer?" he said.

He also pointed out that many Koreans particularly children experience stress and pressure from parents or peer groups within the social fabric caused by rapid changes.

He said that Korea's treatment of foreigners is becoming a problem in India, mainly due to the cultural gap between the two nations. There are numerous Korean managers working with Indian employees there, who sometimes cause conflicts mostly because of cultural misunderstanding.

"You guys (Koreans) attune to work in a particular way and Indians tend to work in a particular way. Korean Confucian social order in a working system is very hierarchical. In India it's quite different," he said. "For example, Indian workers feel free to ask questions to their boss, but in the Korean working style it is hardly accepted and could be a problem in a multiracial working environment."

Concerning the Korean media coverage of India, Raghavan said that it is also biased. "Regrettably, the coverage of India in Korean newspapers is mostly confined to crime and other sensational happenings."

One reason for the neglect by the Indian media of the non-business aspects of Korea is because of the enormous difference in the size of the two countries. India's size makes its problems very complex in political terms so that the general Indian view is that what is possible in Korea is not practicable in India which is multiethnic, multi-religious and multicultural.

He concluded that Korea will become like a Scandinavian country because it will be a welfare state with high taxes in the near future and adopt reduced working hours with moderate productivity and become even more driven by high technology. This will make Korean society politically stable and that's why foreign capital will come in.

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