Ppalli ppalli and familism behind Han River miracle
Only 60 years ago, there was no industry and no highly-educated people in Korea. Today the country is a leading economic powerhouse armed with world-class industries such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai and etc.
In less than 50 years since the end of the Korean War, South Korea has achieved phenomenal rapid development and transformed herself from a poor agrarian country into a leading industrial country.
Transformation that took more than a century to achieve in most nations was shortened to only half the time in Korea. This economic success story became known as the ‘Miracle on the Han River’ and has served as a role model for many developing countries.
What were the major factors behind this ‘miracle’? What are the distinctive characteristics of the Korean people which made this success? Korea’s progress can be attributed to various aspects and features.
The leadership of the president, the Korean bureaucracy and elites, the government’s plans and policies, entrepreneurs and people are all important factors in the making and development of Korea.
Among these various factors, this article particularly expounds on “ppalli ppalli” and “familism”, two important cultural traits of the Korean society which contributed to the development of the nation.
“Ppalli ppalli” can be often translated as “Hurry, hurry” or “Quickly, quickly.” The term is intensively goal oriented and connotes finding the most efficient way to reach its goal. The word also shares some common elements with flexibility.
Its positive results can also be found in government policies and provision of public services. The Five-Year Economic Plans can be mentioned as typical examples of ppalli ppalli in the public policy area.
Public services are provided much more quickly in Korea than in most other countries. City gas is provided on the very day you move to a new house. Various civil application documents are issued real time on request when you visit the civil services offices.
The cargo handling time for export declaration takes just two minutes. The average entry time for foreigners arriving at Incheon International Airport is around 17 minutes. Altogether ppalli ppalli has made Korea more efficient, energetic and dynamic.
The Korean society’s basic form is based on the family. The ideal type of organization is usually described as “a family.’’ Even the nation is perceived as some kind of extended form of family and kinship.
The Korean society is built on vertical familism. This vertical element of Korean familism was in harmony with the hierarchical Weberian bureaucracy newly introduced to the country in the 20 century.
It also provided a positive factor in the operation of the Korean bureaucracy as a unified whole brought about quick progress and national development.
Ppali ppali and familism are not the only factors in Korea’s success stories. Nor are they void of downsides. However they played their role in making Korea into an energetic industrial society.