Reach for the top [Archives:2004/710/Viewpoint]

February 9 2004

One of the pressing questions I asked myself during my last visit to South Korea was simply, “How could they do it?”
Yes, how were Koreans able to develop so rapidly and become among the largest economies of the world in a few decades? How was the country able to win the challenge of achieving Asia's third highest GDP per capita following the devastation of World War II?
I asked the question to more than four Koreans, and their answer was simple and straightforward, “We fought our way.”
“We swam against the waves. It was in every Korean's inner desire to develop and nothing was to stop us,” a Korean in his 60s told me.
Honestly speaking, I was not able to find people as determined and proud of their country as the East Asians. You can feel the will to succeed in every sentence they say.
They learned from the West, went back to their country and applied what they learnt exactly and even added to it and are today dominating much of the Western markets with their highly advanced projects. They did this without abandoning their culture.
I was amazed at how Koreans have achieved extremely high living standards, and now have the highest rates of technology without being affected by Western culture.
And as one Korean told me, “Culture and technology should not be in conflict. They can go together smoothly.”

Why can't we?
If Koreans can do it, if Japanese can do it, and if others all over the world can do it, why can't we? It is true that hard work is sometimes tiring.
But we have to learn to swim against the waves if we are to achieve a respectable place in the world. It is in our reach if we want to develop our lives and end our state of weakness and stagnancy.
Let each one of us start with him and herself in carrying their duties with aggression and determination to do well. Let us take the slogan of “We won't stop until we reach the top.”
After all, just as we thought that Koreans and Japanese were the only racers for the top spot, we are seeing China growing incredibly for the highest rank. And I believe that if it continues its current growth level, it will reach the top.
Let us learn from those fighters, and fight our way towards success too.