That has got to be the most boring title I’ve ever used for a blog entry. But believe it or not the second session of the Alternative Korea Learning Experience (AKLE) yesterday, September 19, was far from that. It was inspiring, uplifting even. And more than anything else, it was quite eye-opening. And this didn’t even count all the fun from the mini Korean bazaar and the Korean games that was part of the event.
Held at the University of the Philippines Center for International Studies (UP-CIS) Benton Hall, the AKLE lecture featured Kwan Soo-Lee, President of Shin Lim Industrial Corporation in the Philippines, as its guest speaker. But more than his leadership in various Korean business and social associations, or even his Order of Civil Merit Moran Medal from the Republic of Korea, what was engaging about him was the fact that he had lived over 25 years already in the Philippines. He even proudly stated how he was, in a way, more Filipino than those who were below 25 years old.
Kwan Soo-Lee’s lecture focused on the lessons from how Korea managed to overcome its poverty in the past to become one of the top economies in the world. This was primarily through the New Town Campaign in the 1960s to the 1970s that focused on a nationalistic spirit to drive economic progress. This made Korea’s rise from the ashes possible, because at that time, Koreans didn’t just work hard for themselves or their families even. They worked hard for their nation – out of love for Korea.
In a way, Filipinos can learn a lot from this. The country was once one of the most developed in Asia, especially in the field of agriculture and education. But years of selfish thoughts have transmogrified this nation into a country primarily reliant on people working abroad who send money back to the Philippines; a country where a lot of citizens are looking to escape to other countries. To truly move forward and regain its status as one of Asia’s brightest stars, Kwan Soo-Lee pointed out how a change of mindset is necessary. Transformation will only begin if Filipinos start with themselves. If Filipinos can start loving their country more than themselves.
Thanks to Korea Beyond KPOP for the photos.