스크린샷 2020-03-28 오후 4.01.22

SAY의 영국 개발학 시리즈 2, What is ‘Development Studies’?_ 개발학이란?

안녕하세요,

세이입니다.

‘영국 개발학 집중탐구‘ 시리즈, 2번째 포스팅입니다.

The Global North와 The Global South에 대해 논해보고,

한국은 과연 어떠한 위치에 있는지를 이야기 해봅니다.

개발학 공부하시는 분들 특히 재미있게 읽어봐 주시면 좋겠네요.

감사합니다.

SAY

1) The Global North (The First World) versus the Global South (The Third World)

Definitions of what constitutes a ‘developing’ country or a ‘developed’ country vary according to the types of measurement or social, economic, political and cultural indices/indicators one uses. The most common index used is a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita or the level of industrialisation/urbanisation it has achieved. However, ‘Development’ can also be measured by a country’s literacy rate, infant mortality rate, employment rate and so on. For instance, Bhutan has come up with the index of ‘Happiness’, as a measurement of the country’s ‘development’. South Korea is considered a ‘developed country’ today, as one of The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries whereas India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam are considered as ‘developing’ countries, even though India has a population of 1.3 billion people, Vietnam 97 million and South Korea approximately, 50 million. In fact, such vast differences in scales (demography) and size (geography) must be taken into account when comparing the level and spread of development among countries.

In ‘Development Studies’, critical appraisals of the relationships between the ‘developed and developing countries’, the ‘First World and the Third World’, The ‘Global North versus the Global South’ is core. We learn that these are not fixed categories but are flexible concepts that can change over time, as the world ‘develops’. These descriptive categories of countries (or labels) are debatable or contested because no one country or society fits into these categories exactly.

On one hand, according to the World Bank, China is a ‘developing country’, given its huge population of 1.4 billion people, with half of its population living in the rural areas and reliant on agriculture. On the other hand, it is today, a world economic powerhouse that boasts of several mega-cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Wuhan, etc, which are comparable to cosmopolitan and affluent cities around the world like London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul.

Other examples are: the UK, US and Canada – they are regarded as First World countries because they enjoy a high standard of living overall. However, in all of these developed countries, there are communities which are suffering from poverty, malnutrition, homelessness, joblessness and high crime rate, despite their high level of development and urbanisation. Hence, students of ‘Development Studies’ learn to understand and analyse societies, in a nuanced manner that contextualises the wider environment within which, each country’s developmental path has taken shape and form. These broader milieus or contexts comprise of the countries’ history, demography, geography, social realities, economic systems, political structures, traditions and customs, religious practices and ethnic differences.

Therefore, the usefulness of concepts like ‘The Global North’ and ‘The Global South’ in ‘Development Studies’ are simply concepts, they cannot explain all realities. It is, henceforth, possible to have ‘The Global South in the Global North’ and vice versa. For instance, while New York City maybe a symbol of ‘The Global North’ with Wall Street and New York Fashion Week, the Bronx in New York City is considered ‘The Global South’ due to its higher level of poverty and crime. Similarly, Rio de Jenairo, the capital city of Brazil is a world-famous tourist attraction, and yet the shantytowns or urban slums, known as the ‘Favelas’, within or on the outskirts of Rio is by most standards, ‘The Global South’. ‘The Global South’ and ‘The Global North’ can thus, co-exist in one urban space and yet, belong to two diametrically different worlds, divided by socio-economic disparities, and differentiated by lifestyles and public amenities, like Yongdeung-po and Kangnam in Seoul.

2) What about South Korea?

By the definition of the World Bank /International Monetary Fund, and as one of the OECD countries, South Korea today is considered a ‘developed economy’, part of the ‘The Global North’; i.e. she is an industrialised, First World country. Yet, if measured by the country’s income distribution of its population, the level of social welfare provided by the state e.g. unemployment benefits, health care, pension, education and housing, South Korea still lags behind European and Scandinavian countries like France, Germany, Norway, Finland and Denmark, just to name a few.

In other words, South Korea is a ‘paradox’, as portrayed by Korea’s very own Oscar-winning film, ‘Parasite’, from the perspective of ‘Development’. It has one of the world’s highest literacy/education level, it is the most internet-savvy country in Asia, Samsung and Hyundai operate all over the world, it exports not only cars, advanced technology but also sports men and women, as well as Hallyu. And yet, it also has one of the world’s highest level of old-age poverty and youth suicide rates. As seen from this perspective, South Korea is both ‘The Global North’ and the ‘The Global South’. For the migrant workers from Nepal, Vietnam, the Philippines and Bangladesh who are working in Korea’s factories and farms little work or social securities and very low wages, they are the ‘Global South’. However, for Korea’s chaebols like Samsung, LG and Lotte, Korea is ‘The Global North’.

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