Wall Street Journal Cites South Korean Demographic Success But Ignores Emphasizing the 2 Main Reasons For Why It Happened

Donald A. Collins | 27 November 2015
Church and State

Lim Ki-ouk, second from left, a 64-year-old former university lecturer, posed with two of her four daughters and three granddaughters at a cafe in Seoul. Her daughter Ko Bo-min, 38, left, also a university lecturer, says attitudes toward girls have changed. (Photo: Truth Leem for The Wall Street Journal)

The 4th in a series of articles on page one in the Wall Street Journal on November 27th provides us with information on what is actually very old news. Due to the long time emphasis on having a male heir, many in India and China and elsewhere opted for abortions to female fetuses creating the headline for the WSJ story, which has actually been long reported “Asia Struggles for a solution to its missing women problem”.

A truly bizarre solution would of course be to opt for more births to see if the imbalance of men and females could be achieved.

China recently relented on its two child policy, but the Journal properly gives reference to South Korea.

Turns out that in one generation that country “solved” its imbalance by the means which those of us in the family planning movement have been advocating for years.

The Journal then mis-prioritizes the reasons in my opinion, but these highly successful results should be governing the behavior of all governments. Read on!!

“Turbocharged industrialization, urbanization and education, along with a feminist revolt wiped out centuries old practices in which a son was essential to inherit property, worship ancestors, care for parents and continue family lineage”.

So, problem was quickly solved. Why? Primarily by giving women equality.

That of course would fully enable all women regardless of their capacity to pay or the attitude of the men in their lives to have the means to control their fertility. Yes, Folks, full access to birth control and abortion with or without paying.

The other major factor, which this article entirely fails to mention and which must be emphasized concerns the religious practices in South Korea.

As Wikipedia tells us,

Religion in South Korea is characterized by the fact that almost half (46.5%) of South Koreans have no religion; among those that follow a formal religion, there is a dominance of Buddhism, Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism. According to the census of the year 2005, 22.8% of the population identifies as Buddhist, 18.3% as Protestant and 10.9% as Roman Catholic, totaling a 29.2% Christian population. These three denominations have grown rapidly in influence only by the mid-20th century, as part of the profound transformations that the South Korean society has gone through in the past century.

Korea entered the 20th century with almost the totality of its population believing in the native shamanic religion and practicing Confucian rites and ancestral worship. Korean Buddhism, despite its long history and cultural influence, at the dawn of the 20th century was moribund, reduced to a tiny minority after 500 years of suppression by the strictly Neo-Confucian Joseon kingdom, which also disregarded traditional cults. Communities of Christians already existed prior to the 1880s, when the crumbling Joseon state and its intelligentsia endorsed a large influx of Catholic and especially Protestant missionaries from the West. The King of Korea himself and his family tacitly supported Christianity. During World War II the already formed link of Christianity with Korean nationalism was strengthened.

With the division of Korea into two states in 1945, the communist north and the anti-communist south, the bulk of the Korean Christian population that had been until then in the northern half of the peninsula, fled to South Korea. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the South Korean state enacted measures to defeat the worship of gods which facilitated the spread of Christianity and Buddhism. According to scholars, South Korean censuses do not count believers in Korean shamanism and underestimate the number of adherents of shamanic-derived folk religions. For instance, statistics compiled by the ARDA estimate that as of 2010, 14.7% of South Koreans practice ethnic religion, 14.2% adhere to new movements, and 10.9% practice Confucianism.

In short, it seems fair to say that religion has evolved into the standard sects, but no one sect seems to dominate and nearly half have no religion.

Thus the main thesis of my discourse. The evolution away from mythology to the realism of humanism allows secular decisions to occur rapidly and thus freed women from the traditions that so bind societal behavior as in the backward behavior of many countries toward women, including the USA.

Too bad the Journal couldn’t make this point, but its hidebound editorial views on the subject have apparently constipated its news pages as well. Too bad.

Let me make a final point which was wisely suggested by a friend who read the initial version of this article. “The critical influence of religions and other belief systems on a society’s development is amazing. It’s also worth noting to the WSJ crowd that South Korea has had rapid economic growth and development into a modern prosperous society with no immigration”!!!! Why do we hear about the urgent need for massive numbers of new US immigrants with millions of our citizens unemployed? Yes, Folks, it’s called greed.

Bravo, South Korea, but beware, the sects are there and as they have in the USA, they constantly seek to influence human affairs in contortion of human rights and best practices.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

WSJ Page One Series: Other Articles by Don Collins

Back in 1991, the NGO Don Collins founded in 1976, International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF), co-produced a TV quality 22-minute film called “Whose Choice?” which Ted Turner arranged to broadcast on September 21, 1992 in prime time on his then independent Turner Broadcast System (TBS). Other outlets such as PBS and several of its affiliates Collins and his colleagues contacted then refused to run it because of its forthright treatment of the abortion issue, arguing for all women’s right to choose not to have a baby. ISAF has made a new edition of that DVD. The purpose for reissuing this 3rd version of “Whose Choice?” was simply to show the historical urgency that attended those times, still blocked and attacked over 40 years after the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. This video is available for public viewing for the first time.

Al Bartlett – Is Birth Dearth a Real Problem?

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