Americentric Media and Minds

When I first arrived at Andover, someone threw me a question I thought was completely absurd: “Does Korea have a Starbucks?” As a new student, I did not want to come off as rude or unfriendly, so I responded with a smile, “Yes, Korea has a Starbucks, on every block and in every neighborhood.” How befuddled the kid looked, I can still remember; she did not seem to have expected for me to say yes to the question.

A few days, or a few weeks in, I was having a conversation with another student. Then came another question: “In Korea, do you guys ever eat Italian, American, French, or Mexican foods?” I was confused at first because I genuinely thought she was trying to mock me. But the look of pure curiosity on her face finally made me realize her sincerity in asking the question. This time, I was slightly more annoyed than the first time I had been given an ignorant question to answer, but I kept my temperament and responded, “Yes. We have restaurants of almost every single cuisine you can ever think of.”

These were very small and personal instances of ignorance I experienced as an international student. On a similar matter, I wanted to bring up something that happened very recently.

Just a month or so after the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, was elected, a huge issue exploded in South Korea. The first female president, Park Geun-Hye, was impeached. Because Korea is not the leading nation of the world, this news has absolutely no impact on other parts of globe. But to South Korea, the impeachment of the first female president is the number one news on leading newspapers all over the country.

For many, many weeks, citizens of Korea have been holding candlelight protests in efforts to overthrow the president. Corruption in the government, riots among citizens, and problems with officials as well as people associated with the president has brought instability and anxiety to people all over the world.

But what I have noticed is that the rest of world has not been making attempts to help, learn about, or familiarize themselves with what has been going on in Korea. When I go on “The New York Times” or CNN, all I get is an article or two titled “South Korean President Impeached.” How interested were people when Donald Trump was elected? Months after the election, there are still articles and interviews talking about Trump, who he is, who elected him, and all sorts of trivial information. It is definitely surprising that Trump being merely elected as president is more newsworthy than a president of some country being overthrown by her people.

It isn’t just the newspapers and online articles. Among the people I have talked to, there hasn’t been a whole lot of people who knew about the impeachment before I brought it up. The point I am trying to get across is, how difficult is it to skim through a couple of news articles and learn these little things?

I know that this lack of international knowledge will not go away soon, and I am definitely not expecting for people to immediately pick up the an article and read about what is going on in Korea. I just hope that people will start to make the effort to step out of their comfort zone to learn about and look into other countries. Yes, Korea has a Starbucks, and yes, people in Korea eat foods from all over the world, because the world is becoming more globalized, much quicker than we know it. So we should start adjusting ourselves to this changing world.