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27 April 2014

"Delikadesa Korean-style" or Why Eating Kimchi May Be Good for Filipinos

I have many Korean friends, students and co-workers. I have also worked for a Korean boss for more than a decade so I have a relatively good idea about Korean work ethic.  Koreans value accountability and the honor that comes with it.  If you are entrusted a task, it is your responsibility to make sure that it is not just accomplished, but also preferably accomplished well and fast.  If something goes wrong, you have to take the blame even if it is not entirely your fault.  Since you are the person-in-charge, earlier on, you must have anticipated possible problem areas and set up contingencies.  You must have relegated competent individuals to manage at the micro level.  Certainly, any chaos theorist will tell you, something will always go array even with the most meticulous planner, but the key is how to minimize damage.  In case, something does go wrong and your team and you are unable to respond properly, a Korean chief executive will resign for the sake of honor and accountability, our Filipino equivalent of “delikadesa.”

Just recently, Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won resigned for being unable to respond properly and quickly after the ferry disaster off Jeju Island, and for not solving issues early on to prevent such disasters from happening.

Prime Minister Chung said, "On behalf of the government, I apologise for many problems from the prevention of the accident to the early handling of the disaster. There are too many irregularities and malpractices in parts of society that have been with us too long and I hope those are corrected so that accidents like this will not happen again." (Quotations taken fromThe Guardian”)

Many Filipino netizens have already applauded Chung’s move and have begun to wonder if our leaders would have the gall to resign after the mishandling of the rescue and relief efforts after super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, and the tragic Manila Hostage crisis in 2010.

Some netizens are calling for the resignation of President Noynoy Aquino himself.  However, we must take note that the President of Korea, Park Geun-hye, did not offer her resignation. Her Prime Minister resigned.  In Korea, the Prime Minister is the chief executive assistant of the President, the equivalent of a Chief of Staff.  The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and may or may not be part of the legislative body.

Therefore, if we apply the South Korean solution, President Aquino should not resign but the person whom he tasked for a particular job should. This is a little tricky because we do not have an equivalent of a Korean-style Prime Minister. Let us try for the sake of sardonic humor.

Since Yolanda is initially a local government task, Mar Roxas, the president’s local government head honcho should have resigned. This one is obvious. His video-recorded conversations with Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez was enough reason for him to quit his post, you can even throw in his wife Korina Sanchez’ cat fight with lovable CNN’s reporter Anderson Cooper. If Mar were Korean, he would have resigned months ago.  He was even tasked to oversee the rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after it was named one of the worst airports in the world. Fast forward, NAIA is now the worst airport in the world, and Mar is still sitting pretty on his chair.

All we can say here in Brun Magazine is, “Anyone for golf?”

In the case of the Manila Hostage Crisis, clearly Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and his Vice Mayor Isko Moreno should have resigned, along with other individuals recommended by the Joint Incident Investigation and Review Committee (JIIRC) headed by Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima.

Luckily, Lim was voted out of office and replaced by Joseph “Erap” Estrada, former President and convicted for economic plunder. Somehow, some of us do not see this development as a step up for Manila.

Sigh.  I guess all we can say is that Filipinos should start eating more kimchi. Who knows, the strong spices in kimchi might preserve our quickly dying value of “delikadesa.”

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