20 February 2007

Korean suicides

Suicides have doubled in South Korea in the last five years, and the epidemic - which took the lives of quite a few popular entertainers - is such a problem that officials are scrambling to find solutions, such as making pesticides - a common method of suicide - less toxic.

In my own visits to Seoul, I was able to spot plenty of "respect the sanctity of life" public messages, especially in the subway. It took a while before I realized that these were suicide prevention messages, not an anti-choice message.

According to BBC, South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the 30 members of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is comprised mostly of developed nations.

Here in Los Angeles, ethnic Koreans have the highest suicide rate of just about any ethnic group. The success-driven, comparison-driven, conformity-driven Korean culture is lethal for those who cannot keep up nor fit in, and in the context of the Korean-American community, the spread of unforgiving fundamentalist Christianity is even more lethal. I am also well convinced that many of these suicides are forced honor suicides, for family members who have "brought the family great dishonor" - not much different from honor killings in the Middle East.

South Korea is a clear example that high-tech industries and wealth alone do NOT make a developed nation. And I certainly do not appreciate the likes of Unification Church, which comes from this kind of background, corrupting American democracy while at it.