TED Conversations

Jong Chan Park

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Do Western and Eastern countries define “developed country” in a same way? If not, how they differ?

Also, since there are many different backgrounds of TEDsters, let's share each country's perspective on developed country.

In my case, I'm from South Korea, and we think developed country as a perfect idealistic world, where all aspects, such as economics, environment, culture, military power, crime rate, etc are all the best. Such country doesn't exist, but we tend to compare us with USA when we talk about military power, Norway in case of environment, France in case of fashion, Japan in case of robot technology and so on. We always pursue the best in the world in each aspect of component of advanced country. This approach to see advanced country has made us to work really hard, but also given us a huge burden in Korean's mind.

In Korea, people need to define what an advanced country is, in my opinion.

What about your country? I am curious to know how your view is different from mine.


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  • Bob Gu

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    Jul 12 2013: Anyong!! So the factors that determine "developed" differ throughout the west and east. However economically the meaning developed is based on a singularity meaning: countries that are developed use advanced technology to produce goods and the living standards are higher.

    But what if these technologically countries are so advanced but the communities are in bad shape and people turn on one and another just to get ahead, and a place where there is little respect. Compare that to a developing nation, where community values are held with utmost value and the people treat each other with dignity and respect.

    Which one do you think is "developed" judging by ur own definition ?
    • Jul 13 2013: I couldn't agree more. It is extremely evident in my country where there is no culture, or you could say commerce is the way of life, because thats the drive for people here. That creates a society based on materialism and spiritual materialism, that the big businesses and corporations thrive off of. Its very much the herd mentality where the weak people in society thrive because they think they are safe in numbers. This then makes people not want to fight, with the chance they will be thrown to the wolves, so government can come in and do their fighting for them with rediculous laws to make the small amount of people feel helpless.
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      Jul 15 2013: I agree with you, and this is why I started this TED conversation: trying to find another aspects of development.
      In my opinion, sense of being together in humane communities is much more important then economical development.

      If we trace back to hundreds of years ago, we can see the difference of the meaning of development between East and West. In Korea and China, there was a teaching that pursued metaphysical understanding of interaction of nature. That was a belief that human beings are inseparable from nature. To Korean ancestors, the meaning of development was finding ways of being harmonious with nature and reading books of Confucius, so that more people learn what is being virtuous.
      This teaching had a flaw. It had no value in practical meanings, and they denied Western civilization and technology. Because of that, Koreans lost their country by Japanese armed with strong military power in 1910 to 1945. After this tragedy, Koreans have been much more practical and abandoned the old teaching.

      Nowadays Korea is very westernized, and they define development in the same way of Western countries. But still the old teaching has profound influence to current Koreans, and the teaching has some important value in today's Korea and the world. Being virtuous and being harmonious with nature can be reused to define the development, because this time Koreans are supported with economical power and become practical enough with a high level of technology to pursue cultural / humanistic development.
      • Bob Gu

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        Jul 15 2013: very true and quite a historical insight into early Korea !, Like you said It was due to another foreign power that disrupted the very balance of community values. during the Han or Qing dynasty, China was reliant on the philosophy of Confucianism; Confucianism was principally based around family values. then Marco Polo came and decided to profit from China's wealth which was supposedly gained through peace and obviously following the family values that Confucianism stood for, China refused to engage in large scale trading with the European countries and thus the war began. "door" to china was literally blasted through, The Chinese whom had all the necessary resources to develop weapons had felt it would be wise not to in order to preserve peace and stability, but at the risk of not being able to defend from attacks.

        Later on in the years Japan had also attacked China and Korea, these were events that were partly responsible for making china what it is today... but now they use their foreign trade to their advantage and as China prospers the living conditions continue to improve.
        China also doesn't actively seek enemies as do certain western countries eg: the United states of America (NSA's probably reading this right now) but it has grown a little aggressive throughout the decade and old grudges wont be forgotten... Anyways I went off topic, but to conclude, very meaningful and debatable question.

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