The following article was contributed to The Korea Post media for publication by a leading Paraguayan journalist, Mr. Benjamin Fernandez Bogado, who visited Seoul and attended the Seoul Journalists Conference 2018 in Seoul on March 5, 2018.—Ed.
Paraguay has a large tradition of attracting people from all over the world. Koreans are not an exception. More than 5,000 Koreans live in the country. Many of them are completely adapted to the country. An anchorwoman of a private TV company is an example of the melting pot that for a nation of seven million people. They made themselves part of the country. A Korean woman tells news in Guarani (Indian language and Spanish).
After a week of seeing Korean development in all fields, I was surprised for the standard that you reach especially on education. In Latin America, Korea is referred to as a country with ingenious people on the technology with more than 10 times the registered patents than the whole subcontinent. And the key behind that is education. Paraguay needs to learn how to reach the high standard that Korea has reached.
Paraguay is a growing economy with a percentage of 4% yearly, but we still have problem with poverty and inequality. We have more than a million and half people that are part of cooperative. Since Korea used organized people to stress development with Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement initiated and implemented by the late former President Park Chung-hee) could be useful to apply their knowledge in Paraguay. When I returned to Paraguay, Korean Ambassador told me that they are already working in one of the poorest region helping people to be out of misery.
We produce soybeans and meat, exporting more than a billion and half to markets in Russia, Israel. Europa and Chile. Raw materials that need to be industrialized in order to generate job for a very young population. (More than 60% of Paraguayans are less than 30 years old). We produce clean energy with two huge hydroelectric dams but we use less than 20 % of that. The rest is given to Brazil and Argentina (countries who are partners in both projects). Korea knows a lot of skill in the use of sand and energy.
As a journalist with a Ph. D. in law living for more than 10 years outside the country, studying and teaching I think a lot of the culture keys to understand countries. Confucius’s role always attracts me and I recently visited in an organized trip and heard one of the capital references of Confucianism in Korea. Certainly his teaching played an important role in shaping Korean’s character.
Justice indepence, strong control to the President for the Congress and how corruption’s penalties applied to high public servants are good examples of how much Korea improved in democracy. For us it will be a little be longer to see a judge applying hard penalties to a President for corruption.
This is my fourth visit to Korea and I was really shocked positively for the advances that I saw. You are in the right track and Paraguay need to learn from your experiences in order to reach development.
When a I came back to my country after writing an article on Korea in my hotel in Incheon, I tested the power of ideas among the people because the article put Korea and Paraguay in comparative perspectives. It was a self-criticism and produced a large and extensive debate until now on how Korean in less than 50 years became one of the most vibrant economy in the world and Paraguay which was 10 times richer than Korea but now my country is 10 times poor.
It was a fantastic experience. Organizers of the journalist meeting showed us an important part of the country and I learned a lot from you and hope to see Paraguay copying Korean’s experiences in order to reach real development. I hope the long conflict with North Korea will reach an end and see both part of the same country more developed for the coming years.
Editor’s note: Benjamin Fernandez Bogado is a prominent Paraguayan intellectual. Director of a newspaper (5dias) and Radio Libre, he writes articles on politics and economy in dozen newspapers in Latin America. He is the author of 20 books on politics, communication and democracy.
His email address: firstname.lastname@example.org