Koreans More Distrustful than in the Past | Be Korea-savvy

Koreans More Distrustful than in the Past

(Image: Korea Bizwire)

(Image: Korea Bizwire)

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Korea Bizwire)The results of a survey that asked South Koreans about their trust in others revealed that the level trust among Koreans has fallen significantly over the past 30 years.

In addition, the level of “social capital” within society was found to be extremely low.

Professor Kim Hui-sam at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, who published the study in the Korea Development Institute’s newsletter, said that the findings were “dark,” especially considering the capacity of the national economy and its human capital.

The level of trust in society, which is one of the key aspects of social capital in a nation, has dropped significantly within the last 30 years in South Korea.

According to Kim’s analysis of the World Value Survey, which takes into account the results of surveys in different countries, 38 percent of South Koreans agreed with the statement “most people can be trusted” from 1981 to 1984.

But in the period from 2010 to 2014, the rate dropped by 11 percentage points to 27 percent.

In contrast, most European countries saw a rise in trust of other people. Even in countries where the rate of trust fell, the decline was not as steep as South Korea’s.

Kim also analyzed the correlation between social trust and education levels by taking into account the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which showed that the growth of social capital in relation to increased levels of education in society was relatively small compared to that of European nations.

(image: KobizMedia/Korea Bizwire)

(image: KobizMedia/Korea Bizwire)

The level of trust in others is commonly found to be greater in those with higher education levels.

In a survey that was conducted last year in South Korea, China, Japan and the United States with the participation of 1,000 college students in each country, students were asked to choose a place that best reflected the image of the high schools in their countries.

Students were given the option to choose from three answer choices: 1) a plaza where people come together, 2) a market of exchange and 3) a battlefield of life or death.

Among Korean college students, 80.8 percent chose “battlefield” as the answer, followed by 12.8 percent for “plaza” and 6.4 percent for “market.”

Meanwhile in China, Japan and the United States 41.8 percent, 13.8 percent and 40.4 percent, respectively, chose “battlefield,” indicating a significant difference in the perception of high school compared to their Korean counterparts.

Of the abovementioned survey, Kim said that the social trust indicated by Korean university students was relatively lower compared to the three other countries.

“The level of belief that the general public or civil servants would adhere to social rules was lowest in South Korean students,” said the professor.

In order to raise the level of social trust, Kim stated that a change in education methods was necessary.

Last year at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, Kim carried out two types of lectures. The first class was one directional, and the other was mutually engaging. Kim concluded that the latter showed promise in raising social capital among students.

H. S. Seo (hsseo@koreabizwire.com)

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