Thursday, April 12, 2012

you're kidding, right?

This Korea Herald article by Daniel Fiedler, on Korea's developing "a culture of killing," beggars the imagination. My thanks to The Marmot's Hole for linking to it. Excerpt:

The high incidence of suicide in South Korea is often attributed to a cultural willingness to sacrifice oneself in order to avoid shame for one’s family. The act restores lost honor to the deceased and to his or her family.

But this willingness to kill oneself also reflects an underlying lack of respect for life in general. As renowned psychologist Carl Jung stated, “[we] ought to realize that suicide is murder, since after suicide there remains a corpse exactly as with any ordinary murder.”

Thus the murder rate in South Korea, which is only slightly lower than the murder rate in America without including suicide, jumps to double that of America when suicide is viewed as murder. This fact combined with the all too frequent murder-suicides by South Koreans living in America suggests that when South Korea’s culture of self-sacrifice, as reflected in suicide, moves to a country where guns are easily obtained it becomes a culture of killing. To address this issue South Koreans should look inward to consider what aspects of their society may contribute to these tragedies.*

Am I missing something, or was there a galactic leap in logic in the article's transition from the notion of suicidal depression to that of murderous rage? The term "culture of killing" strikes me as a cruel and imperceptive parody of what Korean culture and society actually are. Without a doubt, suicide is a problem in South Korea, and the cultural stressors aren't hard to find. But the article fails to make the case that a suicidal impulse can suddenly flip, like a switch, to a murderous one. Citing a snippet of Jung to support a vague assertion that many Koreans "lack" a "respect for life in general" is insufficient justification for accusing Korea of cultivating a culture of killing. Fiedler would have done well to cite his studies and to establish a clearer connection between suicide and murder. For the moment, I'm not convinced that such a connection exists.

*Much of Fiedler's research seems to come from Wikipedia.



Charles said...

Never mind that the first paragraph is a gross oversimplification--most of the suicides in Korea are honor-based? Really?

And the idea that you need to have guns to kill people, or that if you suddenly add guns to mix suicide becomes murder? Where is he getting this stuff from?

Patently ridiculous.

SJHoneywell said...

Hey, Baby, any conclusion is possible with pretzel logic.