South not only limited to professional adults

South Korea’s rapid economicadvancement, due to urbanization, industrialization, and the transformation ofits population demographics have affected the society by creating social evils.

Meanwhile, some of the values and practices of Confucianism seem to stillremain prevalent along with their strong nationalist views. The top-downapproach that is notorious amongst Korean corporate structures can be comparedto a military force. (businesskorea.co.kr, 2014) South Korea is famous for itstradition of social hierarchies, especially in the workplace. This is not onlylimited to professional adults in the workforce, but also applies to studentsas well. Additionally, gender and education are also influential factors thataffect this country. Through the Structuralist Perspective, it is understoodthat there are social structures that shape how individuals think and act.

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Ittries to provide an explanation for why society essentially functions the wayit does by focusing on the specific relationships between societalinstitutions. This juxtaposes the social hierarchies in South Korea as theinequality its citizens face continues through the pre-established ways ofthinking and acting. As a Korean-American and a woman who is seeking in theprocess of obtaining a college degree, this current issue sparked my interest.I am interested in understanding the cultural and social hierarchicalsimilarities and differences I would experience if I were to work abroad.            While the professional work environments inSouth Korea are quite similar to the United States, there are also unexpecteddissimilarities. Hierarchy and authority are commonly seen in both countries’workforce, as the struggle for power is constant. While the United States alsofollows a similar form of hierarchy and authority, it isn’t nearly as strict asit is in Korea. Throughout the hundreds of years, the Confucianism values andtraditions are still a part of society’s ideologies.

The top-down approach ispracticed even during the employee training period as “managers employed somany techniques to maintain the hierarchical structure of the company and tooksubstantial efforts to inscribe acquiescence.” (Janelli & Yim, 1993, p.171)According to Janelli and Yim (1993) and their finding from (Brandt, 1971), thepractice of lineages in South Korea acknowledges the understanding of hierarchyand authority based on generation, age, and genealogical position.

The competitive character ofthe Korean work culture can also be understood regarding one’s level ofachieved education once in the workforce. Savada and Shaw (1990) state, thatthe men and women with middle-school or secondary-school education are often treatedpoorly and talked down to as those at the top have the “cultural sophisticationand technical expertise.” Especially due to the status sensitive nature of theKorean language, addressing coworkers with disrespectful and belittling wordsamplifies the impact.

The issue of workplace bullying can be implied as the long work hoursand hierarchical work environment contribute to the problem. There isalso the blatant matter with gender inequality within workspaces. Women, youngeremployees, and contract workers are the most likely to be vulnerable toworkplace harassment.The importance of educationis one of the continual dynamics that connect traditional and contemporaryKorea, it is like an unspoken rule that without a college degree getting a jobwould be difficult. Attaining achievement from top tier educational backgroundsseems to be the only way for social advancement. However, the burden of themiddle class is that the significantly low wages make it essentially impossibleto give their children the college education they need. Thus, making itunlikely that their children’s future will differ from their own, causing theinequality and dissatisfaction among the people to continue.

(Savada &Shaw, 1990)The term”old school ties” is becoming increasingly crucial for social advancementamongst Korea’s extremely competitive workforce. Even with a higher-educationdegree, graduating from an elite university bestows advantages as Lee andBrinton’s (1996) study found that:”Privatesocial capital does not tend to lead to the best jobs. Rather, the probabilityof being matched with a top employer is higher through direct application andis enhanced at prestigious universities through the schools’ provision ofintroductions to employer. The close relationships among family background,human capital, and university prestige mean that a highly select group of SouthKorean men acquire the best jobs.

” (p.177)            However, the study above only took a sampleof Korean males, while educational inequality has changed over the years, anindividual’s educational opportunity is supplementary to their gender,socio-economic background, and family structure. (Park, 2009)In the past, learning theEnglish language was viewed as a luxury. But now, its growingimpact on Korean culture has prompted it to become “a major criterionin education, employment and job-performance evaluation” (Song, 2011) so muchto the extent to debate whether to adopt it as an official language. Thesymbolic value of the English language is both an indicator of cosmopolitanSouth Korea and also stands as a divergence between the different classes.(Abelmann & Park, 2004) On the other hand, Song (2011) also challenges thereal intentions of the English language in South Korea, and whether it benefitsSouth Korea’s globalization expectations or using it as a scapegoat to dismissresponsibility for the inequality in the educational system.

            The Structuralist Perspective is the view that there are objectivesocial structures which shape how individuals think and act. The socialstructures are objectives, which appear outside of 

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