Dialogue among Youth in East Asia



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Paper prepared for presentation at the International Symposium

for the "Dialogue among Youth in East Asia" Project

to be held at Yingjie Exchange Center of Peking University

January 14, 2004



Confucian Tradition and the Young Generation in Korea

The Effect of Post-Traditional Global Testing

HAN, Sang-Jin

(Professor of Sociology, Seoul National University)

Confucian Participatory Tradition
The Korean cultural landscape has many common traits with Japan and China while at the same time displaying numerous distinctive qualities. Historically, I would say that Korean society has been as much network-oriented as Japanese and Chinese, albeit major foci were somewhat different. This can be exemplified by many sorts of lineage networks which have played an important role in Korean history. Korean has also been successful in preserving their unique identity while actively engaging themselves in inter-cultural learning. Although it may be true that the question of national identity was more desperate among Koreans than Japanese due to the colonial legacy imposed upon Korea, Koreans have been as capable of absorbing many foreign cultures as Japanese, without losing its core commitment to not lose itself through interaction with other cultures.

One of the unique potentialities of Korea seems to have been emerging from an active civil society backed up by the tradition of various social movements and bottom-up popular cultures. I am curious to see how this tradition will influence Internet communications. Historically speaking, the origin of the Korean civil society may be traced back to the 16th century when private academies began to be formed as moral centers where intellectuals and students studied Confucian teachings. Originally, the separation between scholarship and politics was presupposed. As academies increased in number from the 17th century, however, "procedure evolved and a network developed among private academy students that allowed them to address matters they thought required attention." In the memorials to be sent to the throne, they dealt with not only political issues but also "a wide variety of topics pertaining to local affairs, social issues, and scholarly concerns." In particular, the year 1666 marked the beginning of "private academics' participation in national political discourse" (Choe, 1999:44).

Needless to day, this Confucian participatory tradition was limited to the upper classes and only to men. But we can say that this tradition has had great influences on Korean history, giving rise to a strong civil society, together with contestative middle class, not to mention the strong tradition of student movements. Yet I am fully aware that this is more conspicuous in Korea than any other East Asian country. In Singapore, for instance, the Confucian heritage still remains strong but a participatory tradition is almost absent whereas Korean politics tends to be greatly affected by the dynamism of civil society and social movements as well.

The Agents of Net-Activism
Perhaps, a key to understanding the dynamism of Korea's civil society today is to grasp the characteristics of those who led the van in the nation's democratization movement in the 1980's. Now in their thirties and early forties, they have become the mainstay of the society, leading the IT-related industries as well as net-activism. With their devotion and struggle, they have upheld the nation's democracy in the 1980's and 1990's and laid a solid foundation for the tradition of civil participation. Korea's largest NGOs such as People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice are formed and led by their leadership. Moreover, they have spearheaded the nation's booming venture industry related to info-communications technology by developing various softwares. On the other hand, they have been actively involved in the politically significant net-activism.

In-depth analyses about them show a lot of interesting phenomena (Han, 2001). First, as they grew in the midst of political protests in the 1980's, they have maintained and shared collective identity as a reform-oriented social force. Second, they understand themselves as part of the "People" or "Grassroots" rather than the Establishment. Third, they tend to see history and society in their keen attention to the rights and welfare of the common people rather than the interests of a handful of power elites. Fourth, they are able to better understand the situation facing such social minorities as women, foreign laborers, the handicapped, the poor, prisoners, homosexuals, North Korean defectors and socialists. They try to embrace those minorities instead of excluding them. Fifth, they are willing to keep their national sovereignty in opposition to subservient attitudes toward powerful states. Sixth, they show their respect to the leaders who would rather live up to principles than surrender to compromises. Seventh, they are in favor of structural reforms in accordance with global standards.

An interesting hypothesis in this regard concerns the formation of a distinctive social force today -- mostly composed of those in their thirties or forties and actively engaged in civil society organizations, or, simply put, NGOs. They deserve special attention for many reasons, but most important for our discussion is the fact that they represent the first post-conventional' generation in our history as well as the first generation of personal computer and Internet users. Thus, they are inclined to question the validity of the taken-for-granted assumptions and beliefs while being capable of using the IT-related devices of communications for their own purposes. Similar to the 16th century when Confucian reform-oriented groups were formed on the basis of private academies' education for several decades, this distinctive social force which I call the "middling grassroots" has been formed today as part of the middle classes as a consequence of the economic development and the student movement since the 1960s (Han, 1997).

What I am suggesting here is the continuity of a Confucian participatory tradition which is in support of democracy as well as an information society. It is not accidental that the student activists of the 1980s are today most active in defending public interests through NGO activities while running far ahead in developing IT-related venture firms. Because of their disillusionment of politics and the mass media today, they seem to be very enthusiastic in using the Internet as a forum of discussion. Thus, I find it tempting to talk about a Confucian participatory development which is historically rooted and reshaped in the age of the post-traditional information society (Han, 2000).



Post-Confucian Cultural Development
However, what I would like to defend in this presentation is not a Confucian development in the conventional sense but a "post"-Confucian development. By post-Confucian I mean, of course, a post-traditional, reflexive kind of attitude, according to which traditions can never be simply taken for granted, but persists only "in so far as they are made available to discursive justification and are prepared to enter into open dialogue not only with other traditions but with alternative modes of doing things" (Giddens, 1995:105). In this context Giddens speaks of the "post-traditional society" as "the first global society."
A post-traditional society is not a national society -- we are speaking here of a global cosmopolitan order. Nor is it a society in which traditions cease to exist; in many respects there are impulses, or pressures, towards the sustaining or the recovery of traditions. It is a society, however, in which tradition changes its status. In the context of a globalizing, cosmopolitan order, traditions are constantly brought into contact with one another and forced to 'declare themselves' (Giddens, 1995:83)
Confucianism can never be an exception in this respect. I instead argue that a post-traditional, and hence post-Confucian attitude is emerging quite visibly particularly among younger generations who use the Internet, not simply as an instrument of self-interest, but also as a public sphere where netizens freely meet and discuss matters critically.

In order to back up this point by empirical evidence, I would like to compare two surveys conducted in late 1999 to clarify the meaning of the post-Confucian attitude. One of these was a national survey for the population at large (hereafter general public) and the other was designed for those who studied at Seoul National University in the 1980's (hereafter 386 generation). To begin with, the Confucian cultural legacy was divided into two categories, that is, hierarchical and humanistic. The hierarchical mode includes four traditional Confucian values; 1) loyalty to the ruler, 2) respect for the aged, 3) the unity of king, teacher and father, 4) the favorable treatment of the eldest son. On the other hand, the humanistic mode contains such traditional ideas as 5) people-based development, 6) the union of man and the heaven 7) humanitarianism, and 8) a sense of proportion or moderation. The surveys were conducted on the basis of a four-level questionnaire system, asking how valuable each of these virtues will be in the nation's future.

With respect to the hierarchical aspect of Confucianism, the analysis shows clearly that the two groups have remarkably different views. In a range from +2 to -2, the average point of the so-called 386 generation about the trinity of king, teacher and father marked -0.53 while the general public scored 0.65, showing a great difference in their values. As to loyalty to the ruler and respect for the aged, the first group got an average of 0.34 and 1.23 respectively, much lower than the general public's 1.22 and 1.76. By combining the four markings(from +8 to -8) and dividing it into two(above and below 1.0), we obtained the following results.
[Table-1] Attitudes Toward Hierarchical Culture

Unit(%)




Positive

Negative

386 Generation

44.2

55.8

General Public

86.7

13.3

As for humanistic culture, on the contrary, the 386 generation was quite positive in evaluating its usefulness. The average score of the 386 generation regarding people-based development and moderation were 1.63 and 1.49, quite higher than the general public's 1.14 and 1.18. On the whole, however, the two groups positively evaluated those values.

Furthermore, if we combine these two different modes within Confucian cultural legacy, it turns out that 55.8 percent of the 386 generation responded negatively to hierarchical culture but positively to humanistic culture. On the other hand, some 75.4 percent of the general public positively embraced both cultures. In this context, the negative evaluation of the role of the hierarchical culture stands for a departure from the longstanding, traditional norms and customs and, hence, a reflexive, post-Confucian way of thinking. This is so because a post-traditional way of thinking implies the possibility to reject some taken-for-granted yet no longer justifiable conventions on the basis of reasoning and discursive testing while reconstructing some significant traits with normative validity on the new basis. In this respect, we can say that the 386 generation is neither totally against nor conventionally accepting Confucian cultural heritage but represent a post-Confucian outlook and view on social development.

How would then the post-Confucian attitude prevalent among the 386 generation with their characteristic denial of hierarchical culture while embracing humanistic traces within Confucianism affect human relationships, particularly with respect to the minority groups? The following analysis of the above surveys seems to be quite suggestive. To the question "Can you make friends with the handicapped, foreign workers, North Korean defectors, ex-convicts or Communists?" the 386 generation has shown more positive attitudes. In a range from +2 to -2, they marked 0.25 and 0.16 in relation to North Korean defectors and the handicapped, much higher than the general public's -0.33 and -0.08. In case of foreign workers, ex-convicts and Communists, people in general have shown extremely negative response, marking -0.51, -1.16 and -1.56, much higher than the 386 generation's -0.09, -0.70 and -0.35. In a measure from +10 to -10, the score more than 0 represents 'receptive,' from -1.0 to -5.0 'weakly rejective and from -0.6 to -10.0 'strongly rejective.'


[Table 2] Attitudes Toward Minority Groups

Unit(%)





Receptive

Weakly Rejective

Strongly Rejective

386 Generation

44.2

41.5

14.3

General Public

20.9

41.6

37.5

As shown in the , the 386 generation showed much receptive attitudes toward minority groups while many of the general public strongly rejected them. The two sides indicated similar percentages in 'weakly rejective.'

Besides, it was found that the 386 generation called for sexual equality in household labor, employment and college education more consistently than the general public.

Net-Activism and Democratization of Civil Society
There may be pros and cons about the positive role of the Internet in the democratization of civil society. Some say that the two-way stream, rapidity, openness, accessibility and data-processing capability of digital communications are very contributive to democratization. Others are of the opinion that the Internet will only reinforce social inequality. Strictly speaking, however, each of these two conflicting views is somewhat one-sided. What is important is how the mechanism between the new info-communication technology and society works. Although I do not support the idea of technological determinism, I believe in reciprocal relations between the Internet and the democratization of civil society on the following grounds.

1) What attracts our attention is, first of all, the explosive increase in the number of internet subscribers. Together with its technological advancement, the internet has been widespread across the nation. Its impact on the society at large seems to be enormous. In 1999, the number of internet subscribers was merely 3.7 million but the population soared up to some 4 million in 2000, 7.8 million in 2001 and 10 million by October 2002. At the end of 2001, Korea stood at the world's top with its internet subscription rate of 17.2 percent per 100 people, followed by Canada(8.4%) and Sweden(5.0%). At present, Korean users spend longer time on the internet than their counterparts in other countries. Korea ranked the world's 5th in the number of internet users considering its population. In addition to stock trading, shopping or chatting, the Internet may have a tremendous influence upon communication, public opinion and civil campaigns.

2) The rising distrust in the established mass media, as mentioned above, seem to make people pay more attention to the internet as an alternative means of communication. Democratization promotes social pluralism and produces a variety of values and topics. The opinions of minority groups should be duly respected. But our mass media, as powerful as the state authority, failed to pay proper attention to the needs of the needy. Against such a backdrop, it is quite natural that the internet has been so rapidly spread as an alternative means of communication.(Lee, 2002)

3) The most important factor is who is leading the newly-emerging net-activism. At this point, we need to carefully examine the social background of netizens. The internet and the value orientations of the younger generations are closely interwoven. For this reason, the internet may have a strong political influence and sometimes lead to explosive off-line activities. For instance, as of the end of 2001, some 93.3 percent of the age group between 7 to 19 use the internet; 84.6 percent of the age group between 20-29; 61.6 percent of people in their thirties. On the other hand, 35.6 percent of people in their forties and 8.7 percent of people in their forties are internet users. This means that the internet has a strong influence upon relative young generations. Accordingly, the internet can be a powerful weapon for those who have been struggling out of the established norms and customs tainted by hierarchical authoritarianism.

Quite surprising is the increasing rates of internet use from October 1999 to December 2001. The rates soared up from 33.6 percent to 93.3 percent in the age group between 7 to 19; from 41.9 percent to 84.6 percent among people in their twenties; from 18.5 percent to 61.6 percent among people in their thirties. It's really a revolutionary change. As of December 2001, 88.4 percent of elementary pupils, 99.8 percent of middle school students and 99.0 percent of high school students and 99.3 percent of college students are using the internet.

[Table 3] Increasing Rates of Internet Use by Age Group

unit (%)


years
age

Rates(%)

Oct. 1999

Dec. 2000

Dec. 2001

7 - 19

33.6

74.1

93.3

Twenties

41.9

74.6

84.6

Thirties

18.5

43.6

61.6

Forties

12.8

22.7

35.6

Over fifties

2.9

5.7

8.7

Source: Korea Internet White Paper, 2002

Then, who is playing the leading role in the net-activism? The largest group of internet users are in their teens. Those who are in their twenties may be leading today's net culture. But the leadership in the ongoing online movement is taken by people in their thirties. In this connection, we need to pay attention to their peculiar experiences and memories which may create the sociological 'generation effect.'(Kang Won-taek, 2002) Their devotion, solidarity and struggle facilitated the nation's democratization and established the powerful tradition of civil participation. In fact, today's NGO activities could be credited to them.

At this point, the relationship between the 386 generation and the succeeding digital generation needs to be reviewed. For an example, Park Kil-sung(2002: 27) defined the 386 generation as 'politicized, social-movement generation' and the digital generation as 'relatively conservative depoliticized generation,' and emphasized the difference between the two. The former can be viewed as a generation which "experienced political eruption through the June uprising" while the latter is a generation which "created cultural eruption in the 2002 World Cup, reddening the entire Korean peninsula." Some say that there might be the possibility of the greatest generation conflict between the two. (Cho Dae-yup, 2002: 147)

But we should not overlook the common nature of the two generations by emphasizing superficial differences. Despite so many empirical differences, the two generations have one thing in common, that is to say, their underlying motivation to escape from the established norms and customs. In other words, the 386 generation spearheaded the struggle against the military dictatorship while the younger N generation attempts to verify a variety of issues in their daily living. On the surface, the former seems to be collectivistic and ideology-oriented, and the latter, individualized. But both of them seem to share a post-conventional mode of thinking and, hence, are strongly motivated to test the taken-for-granted conventions such as the Cold-War mentality, and the authoritarian and hierarchical ways of thinking. In this respect, it can be said that in this age of digitalization, the challenging spirit of the 386 generation is farther spread by the N generation in a more diverse and individualized way. The World Cup street cheering in June 2002 would give us numerous cases for such an observation. For this reason, the widespread internet is expected to contribute to the democratization of civil society.

4) Finally, the possibility of combining online with offline attracts our keen interest. Probably, Korea may be the best place to observe that peculiar phenomenon. As will be shown in the following case analyses, any civil group, once organized, would create numerous related online sites which are automatically connected to expedite the rapid flow of information. In particular, the written arguments or informations in a site can be copied or carried over to another site easily and free of charge. If any on-line movement is to be a success, it needs to raise clear and explosive issues or demands, suitable for the sensibility of the digital generations.(Min Kyong-bae, 2002: 195)

The internet plays an important role in the democratization of civil society as it can raise a wide range of issues often neglected in the course of arbitrary selection of agenda by the established mass media. By finding the way around or getting over the gatekeeper, which controls the selection and exclusion, the internet can be an efficient means of launching various human rights campaigns for children, women or homosexuals as well as consumers' movement. In other words, the new medium can dismantle "the iron triangle of the exclusively powerful apparatuses such as the government, mass media and political circles" and further streamline "the process of identifying and mobilizing diverse issues and groups through political activities outside the socio-economic boundaries."(Koh Dong-hyun, 2002: 12)


Three Cases of On-line and Off-line Activism of the Youth
1) The General Election of 2000

An empirical example of this is "the Citizens' Alliance for the 2000 General Elections," an umbrella organization of NGOs in Korea, which wielded great influence in the general elections of April 2000. Composed of about 600 individual NGO groups, the Citizens Alliance published a 'blacklist' of 86 candidates they concluded unfit to run for the National Assembly and conducted aggressive campaigns through various means including the Internet. They collected all the information of candidates' military service, tax payments, criminal records, and other public records and disclosed the hitherto unknown facts through the Internet. These campaigns were so successful that 59 of the 86 candidates, about 70 percentage, lost, including several political heavyweights.

The coalition took maximum advantage of the Internet by disseminating information directly to voters. Their Web site registered more than a million hits on Election Day alone. In contrast to the massive rally-style campaigns which prevented voters from getting complete information on candidates, the Internet made it possible for citizens to check with the comfort of their homes about political visions as well as past deeds and misdeeds of candidates in their personal and professional lives. 'Cyber electioneering' first attracted the attention of voters when the National Election commission revealed the military and tax records of 1,176 election candidates on its Internet homepage (www.nec.go.kr) which attracted more than 150,000 hits during the March 28-29 candidate registration period. An additional 300,000 Internet users visited the government election watchdog's site when the candidates' criminal records were posted on April 6. This forced the political parties to see the Internet as "a particularly important means of targeting younger and first-time voters who are often seen as apathetic or disenchanted with politics" (Korea Herald, April 14, 2000).

This can be interpreted as an important change in the paradigm of governance. As an editorial in the Korea Times noted on April 16, until recently "politics has remained by and large the exclusive business of parties and politicians. It was rather insignificant for the citizens to take meaningful part in politics. The idea of popular sovereignty has meant in all practical purposes nothing more than one-time voting rights of individuals during election times." However, an important change began to take place:


This no longer appears to be the case. The emergence of the civil society sector has had a powerful impact upon our political process as to profoundly modify such a conventional governing paradigm. Certainly, politics in Korea is no longer a monopoly of parties and politicians. The parliamentary elections last week powerfully demonstrated that this new governing paradigm has set foot in our political system (Korea Times, April 16, 2000).
2) The Ruling Party's Presidential Nomination Competition of 2001

Rhosamo is a group of supporters for Rho Mu-hyun, presidential candidate for the ruling Millennium Democratic Party in Korea (Kim, 2002). When the lawyer-turned politician, facing the worsening regional antagonism, failed to win the April 13 general elections in 2000, his home page(www.knowhow.org) was crowded with diverse opinions from a great number of netizens across the country. In April 15, a netizen identified as 'Old Fox' proposed the formation of a fan club for Rho. With enormous favorable responses to the proposal, a temporary on-line bulletin of Rho's fan club was opened for the first time in Korea's political history.

Rhosamo first started as a forum for on-line discussion without any off-line organization. But it has soon become one of the most influential off-line organizations. A lot of netizens who felt that Rho was a victim of regional antagonism tried to redress the evils of real politics. That net activism is the basis on which Rhosamo was established. Its regulation partly reads;
Rhosamo aims to support Rho Mu-hyun, a politician who has sound common sense and follows the dictates of his conscience. We want to overcome regional antagonism and realize good governance by promoting participatory democracy. [...] With Rho Mu-hyun, we will do our best efforts to accomplish national integration and democratic progress and facilitte electronic democracy based on the voluntary participation of our members."
On May 7, 2000, a nationwide gathering of Rhosamo members was held in Daejon, an occasion to develop its activities into an off-line campaign. As a political cyber fan club, it also opened its official homepage (www.nosamo.org) on May 17, 2000. Since then, Rhosamo has been a forerunner of electronic democracy in Korea with its active use of the internet. An alternative news media, 'Ohmynews' broadcasted live the inaugural meeting of Rhosamo held in Daejon on June 6, 2000 through the internet. Rhosamo also decided upon its rules and regulations through cyber-balloting, and elected its representative through electronic polls held from July 20 to 22, 2000 (a total of 745 members/ a turnout of 24 percent). From September 27 through November 19, 2000, it launched a fund-raising campaign for the revision of its homepage and collected a sum of 5.95 million won.

Seen in this way, Rhosamo can be considered as a model organization for electronic democracy in Korea. It sets an impressive example for net-activism through its active on-line discussions, electronic polls and fund-raising. Its members are quite accustomed to the internet media and fully understand the protocols. By combining on- and off-line activities, they became more closely united with their political influence gradually expanded. The number of its members has rapidly increased from 745 in July 2000 to some 4,000 in June 2001 and to as many as 46,400 in May 2002.

The mainstream of Rhosamo is composed of those in their thirties who were in college in the 1980's and born in the 1960's. They account for 49 percent of the total members. It is known that the members in their twenties amount to 31 percent and those in their forties some 16 percent. Those in their thirties are most actively involved in its on- and off-line campaigns. Many of its members are office workers, college and graduate school students. Rhosamo consists of 23 branches home and abroad, each of which is made up of smaller units. Most of final decision making processes are made through electronic votings. Each regional branch conducts its own projects, entrusted with considerable autonomy from the central headquarter.

The age makeup Rhosamo is seen as a major factor for its strong net-activism. As an example, thousands of letters from young people expressing their anger and frustration at the Establishment are shown on Rhosamo's homepage (cf. The Weekly Chosun, April 15, 2002). Some of them talk about their enthusiasm for a new alternative to existing politics. A netizen who was born in Kwangju and now live in the United States says that he cried all day long to hear that Rho won the competition in his birth place. Rhosamo, with its strong potentials in real politics through net-activism, deserves keen academic interest in the field of social science.

Particularly noteworthy is the way in which the on-line activities are expanded into the off-line organizations. On May 26, 2001, a group of college students formed a group called 'Rho Mu-hyun's Young Friends' which have since been quite active in 21 different sections depending on their interest and age. Rhosamo has also arranged a series of off-line events including 'a Cycle Tour for Regional Harmony with Myong Gye-nam,' and 'Mountain-climbing for Regional Harmony and National Reunification' All these events were designed to solidify unity among the members. These off-line activities can be found in many dot-com companies which hold various off-line events as part of their marketing strategies with the aim of promoting the loyalty of their on-line subscribers. By using CRM(customer relationship management), they are also trying to find out the preference of each customer for promotional activities. Likewise, Rhosamo has set up various sub-associations to draw more active participation of its members while enhancing solidarity and the sense of belonging through off-line events.

It also displayed its enormous political influence during the nation-wide competition for presidential candidate held by the ruling Millennium Democratic Party in Spring 2002 for the first time in the nation's political history. When the ruling party began to discuss the introduction of the national competition for presidential candidate in December 2001, Rhosamo formed 'a committee for the national competition' to support Rho Mu-hyun. For five months since then, the committee had launched active publicity campaign under the slogan of national solidarity and anti-regionalism. In cyber-space, they sent a lot of writings in favor of Rho and Rhosamo to other sites and place favorable articles on their own homepage. By doing so, they tried to spread favorable atmosphere for their candidate throughout cyber-space while holding off-line gatherings whenever and wherever the competitions took place. They also launched a campaign for each member to collect 100 applications for voting in the nation-wide race. They also sent letters and made phone calls to the chosen electorate. Almost all the members of each district voluntarily participated in the race every weekend to support Rho throughout the race period.

As a result, Rho Mu-hyun was unexpectedly elected as the ruling party's presidential candidate. At the initial stage of the race, few imagined such a development. There is no doubt that his success owed much to Rhosamo's unsparing effort and campaigning.
3) The World-cup Street Cheering of 2002

Another good example for the impact of on-line debate on the off-line participation is "the Red Devils," Korea's official supporters, who led the amazing street cheering in Korea during the period of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The name originates from 'the Red Furies' a nickname of the Korean football team given by the foreign press when they reached the semifinals in the 1983 Mexico World Youth Soccer Tournament. The Korean soccer team wear red uniforms that time. The expression was changed to 'Red Devils' indicating the Korean supporters.

Behind the success of the Red Devils lies the brilliant performance of the Korean football team whose skills and tactics have grown to reach the global standard. Contrary to expectation, Korea, as a co-host of the World Cup, made great achievements. The young players defeated their formidable opponents in a series of matches with such European soccer powerhouses as Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain, finally advancing to the semifinals. The entire nation was wrapped in an enormous festive mood. People went wild over the feat of the Korean squad and took to the streets to celebrate the great victory. In line with the rising enthusiasm of the soccer lovers, the Red Devils carefully prepared for the massive cheering through on-line discussions about the way of cheering, costumes, roosters' songs and slogans, and so on. Defying any political motivation, the Red Devils attempted to invite all the people to the street cheering by forming a loose national solidarity. This strategy successfully satisfied people's desire for national pride and dignity. In a match with Spain, consequently, some 5 million people gathered together in the hearts of cities across the country and in a match with Germany some 7 million joined the street cheering. The unprecedented success amazed the world because the massive cheering was never tainted with any violence or trouble. After the game was over, the cheering crowd went so far as to clean the streets, a proof of highly mature civic consciousness.

The creation of the Red Devils was motivated by the need for well-organized cheering as suggested by an on-line group of soccer fans in early 1997. At that time, the Korean team was preparing for the regional preliminaries for the 1998 France World Cup. To meet the public demand, 'the Great Hankuk Supporters Club' was established for organized cheering in the first round of the World Cup preliminary matches in the Asian region. Later in August 1997, the organization was finally renamed 'Red Devils' by collecting public views through e-mail bulletins. At first, there were some 200 members. Owing to the great feat of the Korean team during the World Cup tournament in June 2002, the number of the Red Devils has sharply risen to some 200,000.

Anyone who loves soccer can be a member of the Red Devils by opening his or her e-mail address in its homepage(www.reddevil.or.kr) and after a simple confirmation process. The Red Devils comprises six branches across the country, each of which has its city-level units. The operation of the Red Devils is systematic and democratic. All the members voluntarily prepare for cheering in their free hours. The Red Devils provided its plans and informations about the cheering through the internet at least a week before the game. Those who want to join the cheering should not miss reading the notice about the location of the ticket office, the entrance fee, the cheering place in the stadium, and other informations about the game. The Red Devils is now self-sufficient in finance.

One of the most distinguished characteristics of the Red Devils is the efficient combination of on- and off-line activities and its synergy effect. In most cases, they cheer the Korean national team in 'A' matches. At ordinary times, they hold a variety of activities and events on- and off-line. They exchange opinions with each other through their homepage bulletins, hold regional meetings and launch various campaigns across the country. What attracts our particular attention is the 'Be the Reds' campaign which has been going on since May 2001.

Since the Korean War in 1950, the Korean society has been deeply obsessed with the red color which evokes the memories of Communism. Against such a backdrop, conservative media and elder generations, still haunted with the Red complex, are worried about the fact that young people wear red shirts and call themselves 'Red Devils.' For the past several decades, the red color has been regarded as a taboo symbolic of Communism or North Korea.

Under such circumstance, the 'Be the Reds' campaign reflects the young people's ardent desire to escape from the existing Cold War mentalities as well as authoritarian and hierarchical human relations. Young people say that they simply like the red color which they believe symbolizes passion, determination, wealth and glory. In the ancient Eastern culture, the red, along with such colors as blue, white, black and yellow, signifies one of the five principal directions, south. It was also viewed as the color used to drive away demons and disasters. In folk culture, the red color is loved by people as a fortune giver (The Kookmin Daily Newspaper, dated on June 3, 2002). Thanks to the great experience during the World Cup period, most of the Korean people, with renewed awareness, have finally escaped from the Red Complex.

Here we can find that the on- and off-line activities of the Red Devils have had great impact upon every sphere of the Korean society beyond its athletic implication. On the surface, it was a voluntary group of soccer lovers. On deeper inspection, however, we can see that it is a strong cultural challenge against the established order. In particular, it is quite notable that the phenomenon has been caused by those in their thirties who actively participated in the nation's democratization movement in the 1980's. Instead of surrendering themselves to hierarchical and uniform values which defy any heretical view under the name of orthodoxy, they hold up to more flexible and pluralistic values.

Closing Remarks
As a way of concluding, I would like to pay attention to an interesting article I read quite a time ago, namely "Response to the West: The Korean and Japanese Patterns," which was written by Seizuburo Sato. Sato (1979:105-106) frankly explained why he had chosen Korea for this comparative study as follows. "Korea has been selected for comparison with Japan for the simple reason that, despite their geographical proximity and the shared historical, cultural, and social heritage that binds the two nations together, Korea responded to the encroachment of the West in a manner strikingly different from Japan." Part of his analysis may be debatable, but the conclusion is clear-cut and compelling. "Japan was able to develop a more autonomous response to the encroachment of the Western powers." And they did it "in such a way as to allow a positive response the Western impact without at the same time uprooting the traditional order"(Sato, 1979:129). In contrast, Korea failed to join with the wave of modernization by stubbornly clinging to the policy of "isolation and the expulsion of foreigners" (Sato, 1979:112). The consequences of this difference were so great that Japan became capable of colonizing Korea.

One century later, Korea and Japan seem to have faced another round of challenge from the West, that is, the U.S.-led IT revolution. Compared with the past, however, this time Korea seems to be more active and energetic. Unlike Confucian intellectuals in the 19th century, Korean intellectuals today have become remarkably Westernized, being probably more open-minded than their Japanese counterparts. The typical Korean is no longer as bound by traditions as before, but has become competitive and aggressive in an alarming way, driven to learn and possess more, while working hard to get ahead of others. In addition, the Confucian advocacy of the role of education as a means of self-realization as well as national development has given rise to strong popular motivation to learn through regular schools as well as extra-curricular programs. For instance, parents encourage their children to learn about the Internet through private programs from very early days. This means that a large pool of young Internet experts is formed from the bottom of population.

The Korean strategy of informatization can be seen as a response to, or a consequence of, the economic crisis which was at its peak in August 1998: response in the sense that the IT campaign became far more vigorous and systematized with the leadership of President Kim Dae Jung. Yet it can also be seen as a consequence since it was because of the sudden and massive lay-offs that huge pension funds together with educated white collars were driven to this new field of IT-related venture firms. Retrospectively, Korea began to map out an IT strategy from 1994. The initial focus was on constructing IT infrastructure and a more comprehensive, nationwide IT strategy was formulated in 1996, which later expanded to the ongoing 'Cyber Korea 21' project (Song, 2000:2). Within just two years or so, there has been "a huge growth in the number of information and telecommunication venture businesses, as well as in the information service and software industries" (Song, 2000:5).

There seems to be many reasons why Koreans have accepted the Internet with greater enthusiasm. One reason may be that there is a notion that one can be left behind in this drive towards an information society, which has caused people to be more responsive. Also, Korean long-standing high value on reputation and high zeal for top-level education has accelerated a shift toward a knowledge-based society. Due to the nation-wide campaign, the use of the Internet has been increasingly perceived as a basic skill in all sectors of the society. As the Internet games have spread among the young generation, the government has been quick to increase the number of Internet plazas equipped with high-speed Internet facilities available at low cost. Korea's housing patterns under which 40% of Koreans live in apartments has allowed for easy deployment of LAN with optic cables, again at a reasonable price(KRNIC, 2000).


I would like to conclude this presentation by citing an observation which seems to grasp clearly the underlying motive as well as cultural context of the enthusiasm among the Korean young generations over the use of the Internet:
The hierarchical system of ordinary social reality turns up side down as soon as Korean students enter cyberspace. [...] This is not only because the Internet has exciting information, but also because it provides them with a new experience and an alternative hierarchy. It is something of an experience of deconstructing power in reality, especially in Korean society, which is strongly hierarchical and repressive for young students. [...] Using the Internet is a strategy of the new generation: a habitus affects people's minds and living patterns through its symbolic power, and at the same time it allows for diverse strategies of resistance. Relying on the cultural power of new technology, young Korean students attempt to break up the hierarchy of old authority and experience their new identities in the cyberspace (Yoon, 2001, 255).

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Ess & Fay Sudweeks (eds.), Culture, Technology and Communication. State University



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