A Tool for Social Reform in Korea
From the Winter 2003 Newsletter
by Youngwhan Lim
1. To Respect Self and Others
During a recent Peace Workshop for families, participants shared their ideas on how to practice self-respect, as well as respect for our family members and neighbors. All the participants realized how unaware they were about how to respect self and others. Each person made plans to practice respect in daily life: by exercising, reading books, not reading newspapers during meals, looking at the face of the person we talk to, greeting our neighbors, sharing food, cooking only the necessary amount, etc. Participants felt these daily practices would spread out to our neighbors and our community.
2. To Communicate Better
'Friends,' 'The Gangster Wife,' and 'Honor of the Family' are three blockbuster Korean movies about gangsters. Even the most popular TV show is about a well-known gangster's life. They all present fighting rather than talking as an accepted way of solving problems. Vulnerable children and teenagers can be heavily influenced. Such shows also encourage human relationships that are unequal and impersonal. In fact, we now have a social problem in some schools called 'Wang-Tta' - the scapegoat of a community. This means that one student is excluded by all the others without any reason. 'To communicate better' helps us realize the importance of conversation rather than resorting to violence. Only by communication it is possible to build equal relationships.
3. To Listen
We often watch on TV the speeches of political candidates. However, people are sick of listening to them because too often the pledges they make are lies. It's not just politicians, but parents as well. Parents don't listen to their children. They force their children to do what they ask. That's why the generation gap gets deeper. When we listen to others, we can get closer. A commitment to listening is one of the crucial factors in building up a true community.
4. To Forgive
Korea has a very high divorce rate. The main reason is that husbands and wives don't know how to forgive each other. At a workshop for couples, we introduced the Family Pledge. Many of them agree with the Pledge and decided on their own practices for a better family. Only by understanding and forgiveness can husband and wife love each other deeply and keep the family relationship healthy.
5. To Respect Nature
Awareness about the importance of preserving our environment has been increasing. Nature should be preserved not only for us but also for the next generation. We can easily respect nature in our daily lives by doing small things such as reducing our trash, not using disposables, separating garbage for recycling, etc.
Several years ago, the TV show 'Tideland is Alive' was broadcast. The program raised awareness of the importance of the tidelands in Korea. Many unique creatures dwell on the tideland and actually keep the lands alive. These tidelands are an environmental treasure. Despite strong opposition, the government wanted to develop the tidelands in order to expand the usable land. Now many people are joining the movement to prevent the tideland from being destroyed by development.
6. To Play Creatively
Many of the tows that our kids play with today are quite violent, and can make children more inclined toward violence by planning with them. These toys are misleading the children of our society. Furthermore, the idea that kids can't play without toys gradually lessens their creativity. 'To play creatively' leads us to protect children from violent toys as well as to encourage the development of their own creativity, so that children can spend time without the misleading toys. If we encourage creative play, then children will often play with ordinary things around the home.
7. To Be Courageous
Several years ago a teenager committed suicide because she was distraught with a bad grade on the entrance exam of the university. She wrote a letter titled 'happiness does not come from the grade.' Many parents and students now want to change our education system. It took courage to challenge this misleading social trend. People had to come together to share their concerns and then decide to build a better society together. It can't be done by a one person, but must be done by people joining together. As a result there are increasing numbers of parents who do not send their children to schools which overemphasize grades.
Because we believe the Family Pledge has a power to help change the violence in Korean society, we step forward with hope.
Lim, Youngwhan is part of the leadership team for People Creating a Circle of Peace with Justice (PCCPJ) in Seoul, South Korea.