At the bank and Confucianism - 38
At the bank in Seoul
Setting up a bank account can often be problematic in a new country. It was thus a nice surprise when it was very easy to set-up a bank account in Korea without any difficulty, despite my lack of Korean. Not only was the account easy to set up, but within 10 minutes, I had a cash card (card to withdraw money from the cash machines) given to me. In America or England, you normally have to wait a week or two for it to be sent in the post. In Seoul I had the card in my hand within minutes. If you go to a bank in Italy you could be waiting several weeks. After six years, yes six years, my wife’s degree certificate is now just ready from her university in Viterbo, Italy. And this is normal.
Confucianism in South Korea
The traditional Korean religion, Confucianism, largely involves respect for elders and arguably has led in the past to Korea being a male dominated society, with the man always at the head of the family. The teachings of Confucianism are still reflected in many aspects of Korean culture. Saving face for example (avoiding shame in front of others), which is also very important traditionally in Chinese culture, is still very important in Korea. So important in many situations, that suicide is and has been used as a way of avoiding the shame that a person feels that they are putting on their family.
During the LG Credit Card fiasco, several people committed suicide. The group’s President also tragically jumped from the top of the Hyundai building in August 2003. Such is the intense pressure on men sometimes, to support and lead the family that the burden appears to be completely overwhelming. The Confucianism lifestyle is slowly dying out, but suicide has been on the rise. As Korean society becomes more and more competitive, the pressure builds. Getting a job with a good company is everything and Koreans are studying harder and spending more on education than ever before.