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.