Why a Single Phenomenon Shouldn’t Be Used to Label a Culture
I just saw this slide show, which was presented as an example showing how Korea is not a conservative country:
This is incontrivertable proof, right? I mean, look at those pictures. Look at the dancing girls, see how they’re dressed? How can you call that a conservative culture?
I’ll tell you how. Would you call 1930’s America conservative? Remember, this was a time of tongueless on-screen movie kisses, girls taking home economics while boys took shop, interracial dating behing almost unheard of, “restricted” hotels that didn’t board Jews, and women had just won the right to vote three elections ago. So we can agree that 1930 America was conservative, right?
Now watch this:
By the logic I presented in the beginning of this article, how on earth can you call 1930 American culture conservative? Did you see the positions some of those women were in? Did you see that some were NAKED? This is obviously not a conservative culture.
Okay, that said, the take-home message is that one phenomenon is not often definitive when describing a culture. In my opinion, if you stack up all the “liberal” things you can find, and weight them by the number of people in the country that do/believe these things, and I stack up all the “conservative” things and weight them the same way, I’ll have the bigger pile. To address variance by locale (i.e. farmers are more conservative than norebang owners), I’ll say that I even think I’d win in Seoul.
Do I think Korea is conservative? I think “conservative” is relative and best viewed against itself (in the past) or other cultures. I would say Korea is decidedly less conservative than it was even five years ago, but definitely more conservative than the USA.