To keep growing, economists here and abroad believe, [South Korea] will have to make fundamental changes to its hierarchical, male-dominated society -- not only bringing more women into the workplace, but also encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, promoting by merit rather than seniority and opening the door to immigrants.
Part of the reason the government's heavy-handed role in the economy is accepted is because it's in line with Korean society's Confucian-rooted belief in the power of hierarchies. That same belief spills over to everyday work. South Koreans routinely defer to people older than themselves, a habit that preserves order but chills interaction and suppresses new ideas.
And the hierarchical tradition is further complicated by the power it assigns to men over women. Until the 1990s, Korean textbooks preached that women should stay at home. Even now, women are routinely encouraged to quit work when they become pregnant. And it was only this April that a judge for the first time held a South Korean company liable in a sexual-harassment case involving a male boss and female subordinate.
Just as soon as capital hits any social obstacle, society must be rearranged to ensure its flight. That which is independent, but in the way, must be subordinated; that which is subordinated, but inadequate, must become independent.
See also femenins