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Food Fight
World Magazine ^ | December 17, 2011 | Mindy Betz

Posted on 12/31/2011 12:12:11 PM PST by Retain Mike

Food fight A Korean refrigerator speaks to the falsehoods surrounding famine | Mindy Belz

This time of year my refrigerator hums, happily I imagine, with the comings and goings of harvest and feasting—roasts and leftover gravies, cooked squash and potatoes, the summer peppers not eaten by grubs, and the last of the lettuces. How can my family receive such bounty while others go poor and hungry? It's a complex question.

Take my refrigerator, a sturdy 22-cubic-foot model made by the LG Corporation of South Korea. The reason I'm able to own an appliance from the Korean Peninsula is that a man named Koo In-Hwoi in 1947 was intrepid enough to found a company called Lak-Hui Chemical Industrial Corp., then to get into plastics, then to build the country's first radio, and ultimately to merge the plastics side (by then called "Lucky") with the electronics side (called Goldstar) into what is today the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea after Samsung.

The reason Koo In-Hwoi was successful is that he formed his company under the auspices of the provisional government in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, a region under U.S. control after the defeat of the Japanese in World War II—and not the northern half under control of the Soviet Union.

In that environment LG grew into five global divisions that today earn more than $1.1 billion in net annual income and employ more than 82,000 people. It remains a family-owned company run by Koo's grandson Koo Bon-Moo. LG has remained notably scandal free. In 2002 the grandson praised the generations before him, saying on his parents' 60th wedding anniversary, "My parents set an example to married couples, which is a precious legacy to be continued."

Corporate and familial success in South Korea feed a country with per capita GDP in 2011 of $30,000 (rising from 1960's per capita GDP of $177)—and an unemployment rate of 3.6 percent. North Korea, with a nearly identical culture and history until communist takeover in 1945, by contrast has a per capita GDP of maybe $1,800. And needless to say, there are no global conglomerates employing over 80,000 people and making it possible for others halfway around the world to eat and live well. What a difference 65 years of centralization makes.

Despite over a decade of massive international food aid, and reports that this year's grain harvest in North Korea is up, more and more children are starving: In October the UN's top humanitarian official, Valerie Amos, reported that one-third of North Korean children under age 5 are malnourished. Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, went so far in his final report as to call the long-term starvation of millions of North Koreans, together with other human-rights abuses, a form of genocide.

Viewed from the Korean Peninsula, the causes of famine and gross impoverishment couldn't be clearer. Yet the prevailing wisdom, not to mention the so-called 99 percenters, wants to indict free markets and a lack of centralization.

A report by Reuters blames North Korea's food shortages on "a string of natural disasters and sanctions imposed on its nuclear and missile programs."

David Beckmann of Bread for the World, speaking last month to a gathering of the Methodist General Board of Church and Society, insisted, "We've got to get our government to do its part. We can't foodbank our way out of hunger." He complained of "a very difficult Congress" made up of freshmen who "all are conservative and some not well-informed," and concluded, "More people who experience God as a loving presence are more likely to support food stamps."

Alleviating the world's hunger hot spots doesn't begin at my refrigerator door, or with support for food stamps. For us in the West, it begins somewhere in Ezekiel 16, where the guilt of Jerusalem, the holiest of cities, is compared alongside the guilt of Sodom: "She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy." Let's lay aside pride and excess long enough to marvel at the remarkable ways to deliver and keep food around the world, to examine why systems fail, and to resolve to reject falsehoods disguised as fix-its.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; Religion; Society
KEYWORDS: famine; humamrights; northkorea; starvation
The author’s statement that “viewed from the Korean Peninsula, the causes of famine and gross impoverishment couldn’t be clearer” brings to mind for me a typical, traditional comparison that couldn’t be clearer.

Each year the Wall Street Journal and the Heritage foundation compile the Index of Economic Freedom. The ten components of economic freedom are:

Business Freedom | Trade Freedom | Fiscal Freedom | Government Spending | Monetary Freedom | Investment Freedom | Financial Freedom | Property rights | Freedom from Corruption | Labor Freedom

I developed tables with the first three columns coming from the Index, and titled Rank, Country and Score. The last three columns titled 2010 GDP, 2010 Per Capita Income, and Government came from the CIA World Factbook. I listed the 16 highest ranking countries and the 16 lowest ranking countries. For the lowest ranking countries the type of government looked like it was determined in most cases by our State Department. I am going to guess that if you could get the people away from the surveillance of “Big Brother” they would probably find “feral, elitist, tribal, dictatorship” a more apt description of their government. By the way South Korea ranked 35th and North Korea 179th.

It sure looked to me that economic and political freedoms provided the best guarantees against famine and poverty. On the average the 16 best countries had over seven times the per capita income of the 16 worst. Based on Factbook statistics, the 16 best countries accounted for a third of the world’s productivity, and the 16 worst for less than 3%.

I wish I could have reproduced the tables for this comment, but I just don’t have the skills necessary, but anyway here are the links:

Index of Economic Freedom

CIA – World Factbook

1 posted on 12/31/2011 12:12:16 PM PST by Retain Mike
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To: Retain Mike
Partially true.

The main reason Korean businesses have been so successful (aside from the industrious Koreans themselves) is the US allowed the Koreans and Japanese to develop strong industries by opening the US market while still remaining protectionist themselves.

For example, all the while the Korean auto industry was being established the Koreans placed a 300% duty on US cars.

Korean has prospered under the US defense umbrella, paid for by the now unemployed US worker.

I invite Korea to place a 30,000 man force to protect our southern border from invasion. Fair play is well over due.

2 posted on 12/31/2011 12:27:57 PM PST by Last Dakotan
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To: Last Dakotan

The commanding officer of my ship previously spent a year in country tour in Vietnam as a junk force advisor. The South Koreans operated in his area. From what he has told me, we would have no problem with illegal immigrants or Mexican drug lords ever again, period.

3 posted on 12/31/2011 2:18:57 PM PST by Retain Mike
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To: Retain Mike
From what he has told me, we would have no problem with illegal immigrants or Mexican drug lords ever again, period.

I knew another 'Nam vet who had similar experiences with the Koreans in Vietnam.

The biggest problem he had was reigning them in.

The only polite way of putting it was that the Koreans had different ideas about rules of engagement.

4 posted on 12/31/2011 7:54:52 PM PST by Last Dakotan
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To: Last Dakotan

I’d also encourage Korea, which has a very large Christian missionary force, to evangelize to the 10-40 window that includes many Muslim nations.

5 posted on 12/31/2011 8:33:33 PM PST by tbw2
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