south korean economy
MERS Is A Health Crisis With Political And Economic Costs
After a bungled initial response to the virus, South Korea's president not only has to win back public trust, but leaders are scrambling to keep the prized South Korean economy from struggling.

I was supposed to be writing a piece this weekend getting ready for S. Korean President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the US. But that trip is scrapped, for now, because of the ongoing MERS crisis here. And where things are getting really worrisome for the government is the economic hit as consumers stay home. Already the central bank here has dropped the interest rate to a historic low of 1.5 percent. Above is the link to our latest piece, for Weekend Edition.
South Korea’s Tragic Failure

After a long period of hardship under imperialism, civil war and division, the drive to become a modern nation was something akin to a national religion. Most South Koreans, myself included, believed that the manufacturing and selling of products that the West wanted was our ticket to modernity…the South Korean economy took off. In 1988, we were host to the Summer Olympics in Seoul. The eastern coast, where once only fishermen had lived, was transformed into an enormous shipyard. Hyundai started making automobiles and Samsung started making televisions.

South Koreans’ sense of national pride soared. When traveling abroad, we would be greeted by ads for South Korean products the moment we stepped foot outside a foreign airport. We became one of the world’s top 10 trading nations. Our soccer team represented Asia in consecutive World Cups. South Korean films played in theaters around the globe.

The Sewol tragedy has called into question all of these great achievements. Many South Koreans have begun to wonder if the unfettered growth — and the lax government regulation that accompanied it — has come at too high a price.

To outsiders, the Sewol disaster may seem like another tragedy that we will inevitably overcome. But here in South Korea, it feels like the country may never be the same again. It has traumatized our national psyche and undercut our self-image.

We are awash in self-reflection. Has all of our progress been a facade? Are we, in fact, an advanced country? One inconsolable parent put it best on the cover of a national weekly: “Is this what we call a nation?”

It’s difficult to find meaning in a tragedy of this proportion — which was a preventable accident — especially when emotions are still so raw, but there are some practical lessons to be learned.

According to many news reports, the Sewol was carrying more than three times its legal limit of cargo, and with that load improperly secured to the decks, the boat tilted and sank, taking with it with hundreds of passengers.

The captain appears to have violated procedure by leaving the ship in command of a young and inexperienced mate during his break. No more than two of the 44 lifeboats on board the ship were deployed as the ship sank, and the necessary safety protocols either weren’t followed or never existed. Crew members ordered passengers over the intercom to stay in their cabins when they should have been ordering an evacuation.

…throughout all of last year, Chonghaejin Marine Company, the owner and operator of the Sewol, only spent about $520 on safety education for its employees. (Their entertainment expenses, on the other hand, were about $59,000.) Surviving crew members spoke of having to consult the emergency manual as the ship was going down.

But the lack of training is only partly to blame for the Sewol disaster. Poor government oversight of the shipping industry was also a factor, which explains much of the anger among South Koreans for President Park Geun-hye, whose approval ratings are dropping fast.

The government, it turns out, has been neglecting safety regulations for passenger ships and did not mandate safety education requirements for the crews of passenger ships. As a result of the Sewol sinking, several current and former officials from a maritime inspection have come under investigation.

…Three weeks after the Sewol sinking, South Korea is still reeling. We can already see subtle shifts in society. Public trust in authority appears to have collapsed.

Xiumin’s Abs will save the South Korean Economy: A study by Admin L

Me: Whines to Admin R about having to write my final paper for my MBA today. I have to write about one country and how they can improve their trade policies blah blah don’t wanna.

Me *Procrastinates writing, writes the following instead, sends to Admin R*

Admin R: Post this on Tumblr. I love you.

South Korea has a unique set of resources that can assist their growth in the global economy, potentially positioning the country at the top of the list of global economic players. What resources, you ask?

Tearchernim- have you seen this shit? This shit can stop wars, raise the dead, probably end world hunger somehow too. Who knows – maybe this is what we need in order to make peace with aliens? I am pretty sure this would have torn down that wall Gorbachav took so long to tear down. Probably can cure AIDs, not sure on that. But if they still this on everything they produce, South Korea gonna be MILLIONAREZ OR BILLIONAREZ or TRILLIONAREZ.

How do I know this, teachernim? Well, I have a very important and reliable source. See, this thirst? 

Have you ever seen thirst like this? Huh? Probably not, since you are an economics professor. Maybe you are like this when you wait for the next edition of the Economist or something, probably not tho, because how could you be this thirsty? How? This kid thirsted after that shit for years and years. He even had to QUIT his job because the thirst was too much he couldn’t sleep or some shit. Yeah, serious, right? LOOK AT THAT THIRST? TELL ME THAT ISN’T REPRESENTATIVE OF EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THIRSTING FOR SOUTH KOREAN EXPORTS WITH AB PICS ON THEM? TELL ME?!

I expect an A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++, and a second MBA given to me just because of how awesome this paper is.