Korean Protection Of Equality And Equal Protection
In his article, Korean Protection of Equality and Equal Protection, Ilhyung Lee discusses cultural attitudes that influence today’s Koreans. In particular, the author assesses the level of equality and strives to explain its ratio and peculiarities applying the Korean history. This paper aims at identifying Lee’s core ideas with the purpose to enhance knowledge about the cultural environment of Korea and provide appropriate approaches to the dispute resolution.
Ilhyung Lee accentuates that modern Korea is a constitutional democracy. The fact presumes that the concept of equality must be well-developed in this society; in addition, it is supposed to be protected by the national laws. To prove this supposition, the author applies the Korean constitution. In terms of the equity protection, the 11th article states, “All citizens shall be equal before the law, and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic, social or cultural life on account of sex, religion or social status.” Nevertheless, the equity is relative, and the purpose of the article at hand is to evaluate to what extent today’s Koreans are granted the right to equality in different aspects of their lives.
To begin with, it is appropriate to detect the reasons that affect the development and protection of equity. In this regard, Lee emphasizes that the roots of inequity originate from Confucianism. The fact is that the Korean society has been shaped by the deeply rooted Confucian tradition, which predefined the development of hierarchy. It is necessary to clarify that “within the hierarchical society, social status was ‘rigid and dominant’ and legally defined”. Simply put, the Confucian tradition did not presume equality; instead, it was founded on the concepts of strict obedience and subordination. Therefore, in the national awareness of modern Koreans, the hierarchy is an appropriate societal chart. At the same time, the shift to constitutional democracy is characterized by the emergency of the middle class and birth of democracy. The changes in national awareness encourage citizens to claim their right to taking equal social lots. Nonetheless, social burdens of inequity are complicated by the high level of corruption and bribes. For instance, Ilhyung Lee reveals that a compulsory military service that is imposed upon male Koreans as a national responsibility is being often avoided through the use of illegal means (giving bribes). For comprehending the magnitude of corruption, it is important to clarify that this adverse social phenomenon is an indicator of inequity and poorly developed system of the equality protection. It goes without saying that it violates the principles of constitutional democracy because a democratic society welcomes equity whereas a corrupted community welcomes hierarchy and subordination.
What is more, a professional in cultural dispute resolution should consider the Korean cultural dimensions that affect political, business, and social fields of this state. To explain cultural attitudes of modern Koreans, the author greatly refers to Geert Hofstede, a famous scholar, who is known as the founder of “cross-cultural data bases.” In particular, Ilhyung explores three cultural dimensions: universalism vs. particularism; individualism vs. collectivism; and long/short power distance.
The discussed article educates that that the society, which is organized in accordance with universalism, is regulated by “rules, codes, laws, and generalizations.” Simultaneously, particularism implies an extensive use of “expectations, special circumstances, and unique relations.” According to these definitions, the Korean society is characterized by a high level of particularism. In practice, it means that “trust in the legal system is known to be low.” Considering the rational, the development of equity is complicated by intensive particularism, which presumes diverse interpretations of the laws depending on various conditions. In this regard, it is necessary to clarify that Korea was found out to be the most particularist state in the world. This important insight should be considered by a cross-cultural dispute resolution leader.
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The author employs a vivid example of particularism referring to the case of the Gah-Nah-Dah’s discriminative action that revealed the unequal attitude towards customers. Specifically, the canceled flights stipulated that more passengers needed to fly than a plain could take. As a result, the foreign passengers (Americans) were granted a privilege of taking the vacant seats; meanwhile, the Koreans were left behind without an excuse or any alternative solution. This regulation of dispute depicts particularism of Korea.
The conducted research that aimed to identify people’s attitude towards the discussed case provided the following results. Some responders reported, “The fact that the airline may have had a “policy” of giving preference to foreigners was apparently significant.” This finding illustrates the magnitude of particularism’s influence on the today’s Korean society. Connecting this idea with the discussed concept of equality, it is possible to state that the protection of people’s equal rights is significantly complicated by such cultural dimension as particularism.
Furthermore, the Koreans’ endeavor to occupy equal social niches is challenged by their environment that is “the classic case of collectivist culture,” in which “laws and rights differ by group.” At the same time, this country developed a worldwide image of a state that actively transforms and transits from the Confucian roots to the concepts of democracy, tolerance, and broken stereotypes. The country’s success in the global market is predefined by the Korean endeavor to address and satisfy individual needs of every customer. This tendency in business and culture (Korea is an important geographic spot of technological progress and K-pop culture, which are globally accepted) suggests that the discussed state is oriented at moving from collectivism to individualism. Therefore, one can rightfully deduce that presently, Korea endures an important process of cultural transition that is shifting the national awareness of people from the Confucian tradition, which presumed collectivism, to individualism. In terms of equality and its protection, it is natural to conclude that these notions are positively related to individualism. It means that Korea strives to strengthen the principles of equity in its society, but currently, this notion remains underdeveloped.
What is more, according to Hofstede’s ranking, Korea has a high power distance. Undoubtedly, this cultural dimension supports the notions of collectivism, hierarchy, subordination and, as a result, prevents the development of equality. In particular, Ilhyung Lee provides an example that, according to the Korean culture, children and the youth have no right to treat adults (parents, teachers, and other older individuals) as equals. A positive implication of the high power distance is that it encourages respecting and helping the elderly. The downside of the coin is that the deeply rooted inability to treat other social members as equals inhibits the transition from collectivism to individualism. Besides, it challenges the very notion of universalism. Finally, the high power distance dismisses the concept of democracy and equal protection. This cultural attitude of Koreans should be considered by a cross-cultural dispute resolution professional.
Moreover, the author reveals that this cultural dimension is being shaped (loosened) by the cultural globalization that, to a great part, occurs through the Internet. In other words, young Koreans develop diverse cultural attitudes because they can access and absorb ethical and moral norms of other nations while interacting in the global net. Thus, it is assumed that the transition of the Korean society from the Confucian tradition of the rigid hierarchy to the low power distance is supposed to be fastened by social media.
Summing up the above-mentioned, it is natural to agree with Ilhyung Lee; in his article, Korean Protection of Equality and Equal Protection, the author discusses the concept of social equality by constructing a rational connection between cultural dimensions. In particular, the article reveals a strong causal connection between the Confucian culture and the present cultural concepts of collectivism, particularism, and high power distance. Besides, Lee depicts that Korea strives to move from a historically formed hierarchical chart of social relations to individualism, democracy, and equity. These tendencies are seen in a business and cultural worlds, in which this state takes the leading positions. In a word, the described alterations in cultural attitudes can be tracked in the process of country’s expanding influence in the world.
In these terms, it is appropriate to state that the analyzed article enhances professional knowledge of a cross-cultural dispute resolution leader. Specifically, it reveals important insights regarding such cultural dimensions as universalism/particularism, individualism/collectivism, and high/low power distance. A dispute resolution leader learns the signs of the discussed cultural attitudes and comprehends the need to remember that different nations may have diverse attitudes. Moreover, representatives of the same state can share diverse cultural dimensions, which lead to the occurrence of disputes. To succeed in dispute resolution, a leader should develop cultural sensitivity, particularly, learning to understand the causes of cultural attitudes. Furthermore, it is necessary to develop conflict-preventive skills (anticipating plausible outcomes when different cultural attitudes are blended together).
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To be more precise, in the discussed case, applicable approaches of dispute resolution include early warning systems and pre-dispute resolution. It is recommended to increase and demonstrate the competence of a dispute resolution leader while striving to solve conflicts at their pre-dispute stage. Under the conditions of particularism, it should be relevant to use own authority for explaining any details that may affect the resolution of a conflict and take much time and means. Besides, early warning systems are critically important in the society that is rapidly gaining equality. Therefore, a cross-cultural dispute resolution professional should monitor the signs of changes and be capable of detecting a proper level of the needed involvement. Presently, the Korean society requires a high level of involvement because of high power distance and strong hierarchy.