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Saturday,December 14,2019
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My Grandfather & I, Mono-culturalism & Multi-culturalism
One day my grandfather who's still living in the countryside visited my family in Seoul. I usually wear a formal suit for the job during the week, but that was a weekend and I tried my favorite "American" style jeans that were torn just at the bottom of the hip. But as soon as my grandfather saw my lovely jean, I had to throw them into the trashcan. Well, I think this is a phase of these days' mono vs. multi culturalism troubles.
Most of the time, Korean old people are conservative while the young ones are progressive. I don't see this as an age gap but a cultural difference between the two ages. Old (or conservative) people usually want to keep their great traditional and historical background and culture, while the young want to experience and accept various kinds of other cultures.
Basically I belong to the latter. There's a Korean expression: "A big frog in a little pool," which means "A man of narrow outlook." It's very important to keep your own cultural heritage, but also you should look out the window to a wider world. With the development of transportation, communications and international exchanges, we don't belong to only Korea any more but to the world. If you want to keep your culture and not accept others, maybe you'd better move to a deep mountain valley that will be also influenced by other cultures someday.
I want myself and others to learn many things from various cultures. It doesn't mean to accept everything, but it means to choose some good and helpful things with your wise brain. It's not good to only avoid or only accept. For example, some people do not like Japanese culture in Korea because of past history, while others are crazy about that country's entertainment, animation, etc. I want people to think very carefully before they borrow from a new culture.
I'm a student at Dongguk, but at the same time I'm working for a multinational company and have some multinational friends, too. In this kind of community, one's own society or culture is not most important, but respecting and considering different cultures comes first. If you insist on only your own culture, all others will keep yours out.
But as much as I enjoy meeting other cultures, I strongly feel that you should keep your originality. Do you know how to wear "Hanbok" skirt or pants? Do you know how to play any Korean traditional instrument? Do you know why "the portrait of a beauty" by Yoon Bok Shin is so great? Do you know the basic theory of Korean Confucianism? Can you say "Yes" to those questions? While we enjoy the great things of other cultures, our own culture's greatness is forgotten by ourselves. There has to be change if you want to be developed, and multiculturalism can be one way. But I wish all of us would keep it in mind that our roots are in our country and with our ancestors. And we should always be proud of our culture and be able to show how beautiful and unique it is to others from different cultures.
Those days I rarely think about this topic, and I feel grateful to have a chance to think and write about it in this essay competition. Maybe I shall try to learn a Korean traditional dance while wearing a beautiful "Hanbok" during this winter vacation.
The writer is a freshman in Division of Business Administration.

Lee Eun-young  thestyx@korea.com

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