Saturday, March 7, 2009

Korean hospital to set up medical school in Swaziland

The Korea Times reports that SAM Medical Center in Anyang, a Seoul suburb in southern Kyŏnggi-do Province, will set up a medical school in the impoverished African nation of Swaziland, a country sandwiched between South Africa and Mozambique. The CIA World Factbook says unemployment in that landlocked country is a whopping 40%. (It's not all bad news, though: Here's Miss Swaziland.)

By 2011, they expect to start teaching fifty students. Half will be from Swaziland and half will be from nearby countries with similar needs. This sure sounds quite different from the supposed "neo-colonialism" of the Daewoo-Madagascar deal. 

UPDATE (next morning):
While making dinner I discussed this with a dorm neighbor from Tanzania. Granted, Tanzania and Swaziland may be neighbors in the alphabetical order, but they are geographically quite far from each other. Nevertheless, what he mentioned is something I have heard from several Africans from different parts of the continent: Korea is frequently compared with China, in terms of goods and even the people, and Korea comes out on top. 

It's not just a perception that Korean goods are superior to Chinese goods, he explains, but also a sense that the Chinese are setting out to manipulate African countries for their own means, but there is no such impression of Koreans doing that. Not yet, anyway. 

But this hospital fits with that notion. It stands in contrast with the construction of a stadium in order to get a government deal, he says. If that's true, let's just hope that South Korean corporations and organizations (and individuals) can maintain that image with real and tangible benefits. It would be a tragedy if Korea became nothing more than another neo-colonial player.

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