The Storied History of Koreans in America A presentation by benjamin favero

While a majority of the current Korean-American population came after the U.S. lifted sanctions levied against Asians in 1965, Korean immigration to the U.S. celebrated it's 100th anniversary in 2003. Former President George W. Bush has honored the Korean people with a proclamation honoring their, "important role in building, defending, and sustaining the United States of America." Immigration from Korea can first be traced all the way back to 1882 as well, upon the signing of a treaty between both nations. Originally signed as a document for peace, prosperity, and friendship, the numerous success-stories of Korean-born immigrants signals the steadfast work ethic and tremendous pride that Koreans bring along to America, in addition to the rich cultural backdrop from which we all benefit. The first from among them to join us in the states were diplomats, political exiles, merchants, and students. However, there was much political turmoil in the 1950s and early 60s that caused many people to seek out a land with more prosperity and stability. In that geopolitical landscape, America was still greatly benefiting from the spoils of multiple wars, and other foreign economies had only begun to recover. Those factors made the U.S. the most promising place to immigrate to, and along with the sanctions lifting in 1965, resulted in a large wave of Asian immigrants. Just in our city of Chicago today, there are 45,449 residents of Korean birth, with many more residents of Korean ancestry. While they contribute to about 2.5% of the population, their contribution to society feels much stronger than the number suggests.

Economic Analysis

Shortly after World War II and a subsequent war fought in Korea, a once-unified nation was split in two, almost right down the middle. The southern half, which is colloquially known as "Korea" to everyone outside of Pyonyang, is capitalist and has close ties with the U.S. North Korea, on the other hand, has more communist tendencies but leans more towards an autocratic form of government, and receive international support from China and Russia. South Korea is a peninsula and has the hostile North Korea on it's northern border. The rest of the nation is surrounded by water, making it practically and logistically speaking an island. Because of the hostility between the two sovereign nations, South Korea largely depends on international trade via air and water. As opposed to a nation like the U.S. that largely depends on trucks, trains, and other means to transport goods, this limitation poses a problem to the economy. Not only is it more expensive to move goods by boat, but traversing across giant, unregulated, unpoliced bodies of water carries an inherent risk. It is also a very time consuming endeavor. Without large swathes of land to generate productivity, and the geopolitical situation limiting their logistical capabilities, Korea will inevitably face a trade deficit, and it begs the question of what strategies can be successfully implemented to combat that.

Breaking Bread: Potential Solutions

With any economic issue, it is a multi-faceted problem that can have any number of solutions to fix it. My first suggestion, and the most realistic option, is to specialize the economy. South Korea cannot possibly muster up the ammunition to compete with larger markets, but they possess valuable trading partners all across the globe, in particular both the U.S. and China. Korean-made electronics and computer products are both high-performance and low cost. However, the political situation in South Korea is a bit tumultuous, as former President Park has been removed from office following a bizarre corruption scandal, one involving a manipulative cult leader. Because of these recent events, it makes it difficult for foreign trading partners to make long-term business decisions with a nation whose government has lost the trust of the global community. With that in mind, I believe it could be of the benefit of South Korea to offer temporary tax incentives for businesses and exported goods. Profits in the short-term will diminish slightly, but the expectation is that Korean-made goods will still sell, and future industries will have a bonafide financial incentive to develop the Korean marketplace. Another solution I have been probing, but I consider far less likely, is to achieve a lasting peace between both North and South Koreas. While there is plenty of bad blood and propaganda on both sides, both nations would immediately benefit in the short-term by having each other as trading partners. In addition to gaining a new economic pipeline, the hope is that opening up North Korea to the world could usher in a whole new flow of people, ideas, services, and goods. What can be easily observed though is how the participation in a global economy can bring great benefit. In essence, North Korea is ultimately damaged by their position in the global economy. However, in conclusion, it is imperative that South Korea acts swiftly to regain the trust of the global community before they lose their niche in the economy as specialized producers of goods (Soo Cha, M).

Sources Used

1. Eiras, A. (2004, May 24). Why America Needs to Support Free Trade. Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.heritage.org/trade/report/why-america-needs-support-free-trade

2."National Association Of Korean Americans - Resources". Naka.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

3. South Korea Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade, FDI, Corruption. (2017). Heritage.org. Retrieved 26 March 2017, from http://www.heritage.org/index/country/southkorea

4. Soo Cha, M. (2017). The Economic History of Korea. Eh.net. Retrieved 26 March 2017, from https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economic-history-of-korea/

5. THE BENEFITS OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE. (n.d.). Retrieved February 9, 2017, from http://www.tradesupportsjobs.com/benefits-international-trade

6. Kim, Y. (1991). Koreans. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/694.html

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