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2017-11-02 16:58
More than half of Korean teenagers think their parents’ ability — not their own — determines their future, according to a recent survey by the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education.
That’s sad but probably true.

One needs to look nowhere else but Kangwon Land, a state-run casino operator, and other public corporations which came under fire for hiring new workers upon the lobbying of influential politicians, businesspeople and ranking government officials, in these times of high youth unemployment.

Almost all sectors of South Korean society, including family-run conglomerates, media outlets — such as the three major conservative newspapers the Chosun Ilbo, Dong-A Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo — universities and even churches have seen their management control passed down from founders to their grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

In short, South Korea has become a society where rags-to-riches stories are increasingly hard to find. Among 400 billionaires in the world, 71 percent of Americans and 97 percent of Chinese built up fortunes out of nothing. All of five Japanese tycoons on the world’s top 400 wealthy people’s list created their business empires. In Korea, only one among the richest 10 shareholders of listed firms set up their own enterprise — Lim Sung-ki, chairman of Hanmi Pharmaceutical Group.

Inherited wealth does society more harm than good by personalizing benefits and socializing costs. Moreover, this new noble class of the 21st century hand over not just economic capital but also social capital — personal connections, school ties and networking — and cultural capital — lifestyle and education — to perpetuate their class and status, to the frustration of young people eager to develop their future.

Here is another shocking news: 85 of its 100 largest stock owners are descendants of business magnates. This stresses the need, yet again, not just to eliminate irregular recruitment but also prevent unusual gifts and inheritance, and crack down on unfair trading practices by big businesses.


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