Selasa, 24 Februari 2015

ASEAN and Korea: Trends in Economic and Labour Relations


This kind of old discussion of ASEAN and Republic of Korea (ROK) relationship. However this book really help me understand the early relationship of Southeast Asia countries with ROK. ASEAN actually have very little influence by ROK before colonization because most of SEA under the influence of China and Japan and based on the history record, Korea usually depended on traders from China and Japan for goods from SEA. Moreover, this is also due to the Japanese pirates activities and China's controlled made Korea have very little influence in SEA regions.


My most favorite part of this book is on the discussion part on Philippines Labour Migration to ROK. Seok-Choon Lew came out with a good argument to remind Koreans how this type of labour migration is the same as their past before South Korea become an industrialized country, when they send their own citizen to fight a war not worth to fight for.

" There once was a time in the jungles of Vietnam when South Korean youngsters literally 'sold' their blood for money. They said that it was for the sake of freedom there, but nobody sheds blood only for a glorious cause. Frankly speaking, it was for money. We send our youths to an alien land to fight against an enemy whom they had no knowledge of- all for the economic reason, using their blood and lives as collateral. With that money we built highways, factories, and exported our products. From the general viewpoint of South Koreans, sending our youths to Vietnam might have unavoidable. In a country where labour was the only resource, in order to reach the living standards of other affluent countries, it was only natural to make such efforts and sacrifices."

The Dirty Works

Seok-Choon then add that now nobody wants to work in dirty and difficult conditions but until then, somebody has to do such work.

" Just as our youths sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War, these foreign workers in South Korea are taking jobs which the local people turn down."

"Work like a dog, spend like a king"

By using a wise old Korean saying, "work like a dog, spend like a king", Seok-Choon described that Korean used to' work like a dog' and now Koreans 'spend like a king'.

"People can now afford to travel abroad and "spend like kings", which was once unimaginable. What we see in South east Asia reminds us of our own past. As we pass the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, or Bangkok comfortably seated in an air-conditioned tour bus, we are reminded also of the time when we 'sold' our blood in Vietnam for economic gain."

"What was our role in Vietnam, beyond economic gain? We do not have the answer. As we witnessed Vietnamese, whom we once used to shoot and kill, still willing to work in poor conditions, we have to seriously reflect on ourselves."

This paper presented a good arguments to the government of South Korea to have a better policy for foreign worker so that they were protected and have a better conditions while working in the country.

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