There is a custom in Korea of helping others in return for their help, called “pumasi,” which is derived from the “jeong” aspect of Korean culture.
Long ago, when one farmer had a difficult task to accomplish, such as building a new rice paddy, rather than facing the task by himself, his neighbors would come and help.
They would work together to build the new rice paddy, with each neighbor knowing that the farmer would return the favor when they needed help.
Even in the survival series “Squid Game,” there are scenes where like-minded people give and receive help.
When the Asian financial crisis hit Korea in 1997, the country was on the verge of bankruptcy. With the common goal of ending this crisis as soon as possible, Koreans came together and donated gold and precious jewelry to pay off the national debt.
The amount of gold collected amounted to an incredible 226 tons.
Thanks to this gold-collection movement, Korea was able to navigate out of the crisis sooner than anticipated.
When our nation faced difficulty, the people came together. They sacrificed their financial and sentimental valuables to contribute to the larger goal, demonstrating pumasi culture for the whole world to see.
By Min Byoung-chul
Min Byoung-chul is an endowed chair professor at Chung-Ang University who is widely known as a multicultural educator and for his practical English teaching. This content is based on his book, “Land of Squid Game,” which can be purchased at major book stores. Scan the QR code for more information. -- Ed.