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An introduction to collectivism in korean society

Today's culture blog is about collectivism in Korea. This is because Korea is a collective culture. Collectivism Collectivism is the opposite of individualism, which differs from most of the western world. Actually, this is one of the ways sociologists compare and contrast cultures, they look at the degree of individualism vs collectivism. For example, in one study, South Korea scored an 18 on individualism. By comparison, the United States scored a 91. But where does collectivism come from?

And how does it apply to Korean society today? Ancient Beliefs What is collectivism? Like I stated in the intro, collectivism is basically the opposite of individualism.

In the western world, we tend to have a 'me-first' or 'I-carry-my-own-weight' type of attitude. The idea that we as 'individuals' are on our own. So the opposite, collectivism, would be thinking as a group and putting the welfare of that group ahead of our own personal preferences.


This maybe a difficult idea for someone from the western world to grasp, so let's take a quick look at the history and roots of collectivism and see if we can understand more about it. Collectivism began in the teachings of Confucius.

  1. But where does collectivism come from? What feels good and what does good are different.
  2. Like I stated in the intro, collectivism is basically the opposite of individualism.
  3. Indeed, I said I voted for the politicians whom the groups supported.
  4. I think it was because it did not match human nature.

Confucius, as you may remember from one of the first culture blogs, was a Chinese philosopher who lived from 551 - 479 BC. His teachings are based off of five moral disciplines; 1 justice and righteousness should mark the relations between ruler and subject, 2 there should be proper rapport between father and son, 3 there should be a separation of function between husband and wife, 4 the younger should show respect to the elder, and 5 faith and trust should be the foundation of relationships between friends.

These moral disciplines have become the basis of many Chinese and Korean ethics and are used as a kind of a moral guide for society. One aspect of Korean life that was affected by the teachings of Confucius is that of status and hierarchy. Confucius was mainly interested in achieving social order and harmony. He taught that peace would only exist if everyone had, knew, and kept to their own specific roles.

1. Introduction

Another way Confucius encourages harmony is by being collective. Korean people place an incredible emphasis on the group they belong to, whether that be the family, the job, or the country. Each individual is expected to put aside their own interest to fully support the greater good of the group. There is a Chinese proverb that perfectly illustrates this belief. It means that each individual should put their complete trust in the group, and every member of the group should work together to accomplish the goal.

Modern Practice So how does Confucian collectivism effect the language today? Well, like I mentioned at the outset of this blog, Koreans will generally use the word for 'our' in place of 'my'.

They do this when they are describing something that is used by others too. For example, they would say 'our house', 'our dog', or 'our country'. However the item doesn't have to be shared by the listener. For example I could describe 'our house' to both my family who lives there with me and to my friends who may live in another city.

Blog Entry – Culture: South Korea, A Collectivist Society in Confucianism

Another example of collectivism being used today is seen at restaurants. When you go out to eat in Korea, or sometimes even a Korean restaurant elsewhere in the world, many times they will not offer meals for one person, but for 4-5 people. This is because it is unusual for Koreans to eat, drink, or live alone, so restaurant adjust their menus accordingly. You will also see Korean people caring for others. They are very considerate, and will not do something if it will inconvenience someone else.

They try to think of ways to benefit the group, not the individual. In 1996, Korea fell into a financial crisis, which caused major damage to their economy. To counteract this crisis, major Korean companies, like Samsung and Hyundai, together with the government launched nationwide campaigns asking the common people for help.

What was the result? Many donated their own personal gold items. This included women giving away their golden wedding rings, athletes giving their gold medals, and others donating their lucky gold items.

The Korean society knew that the only way to solve this problem was to work together. Thanks to these donations, they ended up fixing their country's crisis. Korea has now become one of the most advanced countries in the world.

  1. I assume that my attitude that caused his anger was my scepticism of South Korean society, politics and its history. This is easily explained by looking at the situation of North Korea.
  2. Lastly, the prevalence of MetS was calculated in the overall population stratified by different age groups 19—39 vs.
  3. Lastly, the prevalence of MetS was calculated in the overall population stratified by different age groups 19—39 vs.
  4. The conservative groups who attacked the Union are bad.
  5. Inefficiency was the cost when a society tried to install in it such a non-working system based on a pseudo-science. In conclusion, patterns of eating alone are differentially associated with the risk of MetS in a representative sample of Korean adults.

Although much of Confucius' original teachings are losing ground in the modern world, his five basic disciplines are still the building blocks of many of Asia's ethics. This is something that makes the Orient unique, I hope they never lose it.