CKS Colloquium: The Changing Cultural Landscape of Inequality in Globalized Korea

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies fac­ul­ty mem­ber Hagen Koo of the UH Soci­ol­o­gy Depart­ment will present a talk titled “The Chang­ing Cul­tur­al Land­scape of Inequal­i­ty in Glob­al­ized Korea” in the CKS Col­lo­qui­um Series Thurs­day, Novem­ber 30, 2006. The col­lo­qui­um will take place in the CKS Con­fer­ence Room from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Grow­ing inequal­i­ty and the break­down of the mid­dle class are major social prob­lems in South Korea today. Pro­fes­sor Koo will exam­ine these phe­nom­e­na by look­ing at the way grow­ing inequal­i­ty is reflect­ed in glob­al­ized con­sump­tion and a glob­al­ized strat­e­gy of social mobil­i­ty. In glob­al­ized Kore­an soci­ety, con­sump­tion has become the dom­i­nant are­na of class dis­tinc­tion. The rise of myongp’um (pres­ti­gious prod­ucts) and wel­bing (well-being) cul­ture is asso­ci­at­ed with the ascen­dance of the new rich in the Kang­nam area. Increas­ing­ly, class dis­tinc­tion in Korea is based on instant­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed glob­al or cos­mopoli­tan stan­dards. Along with that, Eng­lish has become the dom­i­nant lan­guage for occu­pa­tion­al suc­cess. Now the whole coun­try is obsessed with learn­ing Eng­lish and sends an increas­ing num­ber of young chil­dren abroad for ear­ly Eng­lish edu­ca­tion. The so-called kiro­gi (wild goose) fam­i­ly phe­nom­e­non rep­re­sents the pow­er of the glob­al sys­tem to shape the nature of edu­ca­tion­al aspi­ra­tions and the pat­tern of social mobil­i­ty in Korea.

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to the pub­lic. For addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion about access for the hand­i­capped, con­tact the Cen­ter at (808) 956‑7041.