Italian and Korean Culture - 73

Plastic surgery

A report in Time Magazine in 2004 shows that Korea in that year was at number one in the world (per capita) for plastic surgery operations (men and women collectively); Italy was number one in the world for plastic surgery for men. In Italy, even the Prime Minister Italian foodBerlusconi recently had plastic surgery.

Big Families and Peninsulas

In Italy and Korea, big families were very important traditionally. Nowadays, family sizes are changing and the way in which older people are looked after is changing. This is perhaps true in many countries, but family life in the past, has been perhaps even stronger in countries such as Italy and Korea. In Korea, population growth recently hit a 30 year low with the rate now the lowest since 1974, with women now having fewer babies. With the average Korean family now having an average of less than two babies, families are becoming smaller. In addition, more and more young and middle-aged people in Korea are spending more and more time abroad and many are emigrating for good.

Alleged Corruption

I am tempted not to include talk about corruption, because it is perhaps a quite negative aspect of Korean and Italian culture, but it does fairly reflect an important similarity between the two nations. Considering that Korea was still run by a dictatorship less than twenty years ago, and that before that, Japan had control of Korea and America has also been influencing Korea, the difficulties Korea has faced is quite understandable. Forging its own identity and developing a democratic government has been a difficult process and corruption, involving politicians, was often a topic of conversation in classes and in the media, i.e. the Korean Herald and on the TV news.

The problems in Italy, according to who you talk to, are arguably far greater in Italy, than in Korea. In what other developed country and so-called democracy, could you find Prime Minister or President who also happens to be the owner of the main national T.V. station, one of the main national newspapers and to have an interest in many companies in Italy. In elections in Italy, many feel that Prime Minister Berlusconi’s media control ensures that a fair level of coverage for all candidates is not possible. In the South of Italy, building projects and other developments are often blighted by problems with corruption. I actually think that Korea has a lot more in common with the Republic of Ireland than with Italy though and there are many reasons for this.

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