It wasn’t long ago that South Korea was on the verge of economic failure stood up as one nation and rallied support from its constituents to become one of the most successful and wealthiest nations in East Asia today. Their secret was not that of a wise political maneuvering but was a result of a nation’s participation to combat poverty.
The Asian Financial Crisis hit South Korea in 1977 and forever changed the nations and its people. Its leaders were desperate to find a way out of the mounting debts quickly and has surprisingly been successful. The South Korean government incurred a $58bn (£37bn) loan from the IMF that proved to be a difficult liability to pay after.
Many who experienced the hardships during the crisis more than 3 decades ago said that many South Koreans are optimistic that Greece (the heavily indebted Eurozone member) will surpass their crisis.
Sacrifices are rewarded
Two key ingredients that made South Korea successful in dealing with the Asian Financial Crisis were the speed it took to rebuild their broken economy and the undying support of the entire South Korean people in doing so.
It is know that the act in giving gold rings of parents to their newly born children was the epitome of their culture and tradition. But when the crisis hit their nation many women were forced to sell their gold rings in order to help the government pay their nation’s debts. It was heartbreaking at first to give away several generations of sentimental memories in order for their country to get back on its feet. Urged by the media and the spirit of nationalism, thousands of South Koreans gave their cherished emblems as their ultimate sacrifice to help their country. True enough their sacrifices were greatly rewarded.
Other movements that urged people to help aid the South Korean economy included purchasing local products and donating spare foreign currency to the government. The burden was shared throughout the country from the well-off businessmen to simple housewives that all took part in giving some of their assets to help uplift their country’s status.
Several decades later, South Koreans seemed to persist even with the impact of the Eurozone crisis on the global economy (Europe being one of the largest customers of South Korean trade). The only thing that bothers many residents like Choi Gwang-ja is the fact that Europeans react differently to the risk of bankruptcy.