Shifting Cultures [The Documentary] [World Service]

Episodes

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01South Korea's Hope In Hell2020012820200129 (WS)

Academic expectations, job competition and financial pressures are forcing some young South Koreans to give up on relationships, marriage and kids. This phenomenon is known as the ‘sampo’ or ‘give up’ generation.

The daily struggle to succeed within a patriotic and competitive culture is a shared experience. The suicide rate in Korea is the second highest among developed countries.

In recent years, the quality of life reached such a low point, young people started referring to the country as, ‘hell Joseon’. While some maintain it is an exaggeration, others use the phrase to describe their difficult reality.

It is a sentiment older South Koreans have trouble accepting, considering the hardship their generation went through when rebuilding the economy after the Korean war, in the early 1950s. But despite the challenges, not all young Koreans are prepared to give up on traditional life stages.

ABC producer Mike Williams travels to South Korea to hear the unique personal stories of students and young people. They share their individual perspectives on Korea’s competitive character, how they endure expectations from their parents and why they have hope for the future.

(Photo: Terry is studying to be a civil servant. Credit: Mike Williams)

The personal stories of students and young people struggling with the pressure to succeed

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

01South Korea's Hope In Hell20200128

Academic expectations, job competition and financial pressures are forcing some young South Koreans to give up on relationships, marriage and kids. This phenomenon is known as the ‘sampo’ or ‘give up’ generation.

The daily struggle to succeed within a patriotic and competitive culture is a shared experience. The suicide rate in Korea is the second highest among developed countries.

In recent years, the quality of life reached such a low point, young people started referring to the country as, ‘hell Joseon’. While some maintain it is an exaggeration, others use the phrase to describe their difficult reality.

It is a sentiment older South Koreans have trouble accepting, considering the hardship their generation went through when rebuilding the economy after the Korean war, in the early 1950s. But despite the challenges, not all young Koreans are prepared to give up on traditional life stages.

ABC producer Mike Williams travels to South Korea to hear the unique personal stories of students and young people. They share their individual perspectives on Korea’s competitive character, how they endure expectations from their parents and why they have hope for the future.

(Photo: Terry is studying to be a civil servant. Credit: Mike Williams)

The personal stories of students and young people struggling with the pressure to succeed

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

02Survival and revival in the Torres Strait2020012920200130 (WS)

Climate change is lapping at the shores of Poruma, a tropical island in Australia’s Torres Strait. It is a dot in the Pacific Ocean – just two kilometres long and 300 metres wide – that sits halfway between the northern tip of Australia and the south of Papua New Guinea. This tiny landmass is becoming smaller. King tides are battering its beaches, and coastal erosion is eating the island at both ends.

Moving is not an option for the locals. They have a deep spiritual connection with the land and sea, and, for many, fishing is their source of income. Global warming is not their only threat.

Christianity came to the Torres Strait in the late 1800s and it has been embraced by the Islanders. But when the people of Poruma gained this faith, they lost parts of their culture and language. As former councillor Aunty Nora Pearson explains, ‘Christianity trimmed us’. Today, the island’s native tongue Kulkalgaw Ya is critically endangered, but the belief in God is strong.

ABC producer Siobhan Hegarty journeys to the Torres Strait where the locals are fighting to save their land, their language and their cultural traditions – before it’s too late.

The islanders fighting to save their home and their language

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

02Survival and revival in the Torres Strait20200129

Climate change is lapping at the shores of Poruma, a tropical island in Australia’s Torres Strait. It is a dot in the Pacific Ocean – just two kilometres long and 300 metres wide – that sits halfway between the northern tip of Australia and the south of Papua New Guinea. This tiny landmass is becoming smaller. King tides are battering its beaches, and coastal erosion is eating the island at both ends.

Moving is not an option for the locals. They have a deep spiritual connection with the land and sea, and, for many, fishing is their source of income. Global warming is not their only threat.

Christianity came to the Torres Strait in the late 1800s and it has been embraced by the Islanders. But when the people of Poruma gained this faith, they lost parts of their culture and language. As former councillor Aunty Nora Pearson explains, ‘Christianity trimmed us’. Today, the island’s native tongue Kulkalgaw Ya is critically endangered, but the belief in God is strong.

ABC producer Siobhan Hegarty journeys to the Torres Strait where the locals are fighting to save their land, their language and their cultural traditions – before it’s too late.

The islanders fighting to save their home and their language

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

03Polygamous marriage in modern Malaysia2020020120200205 (WS)
20200204 (WS)

Muslim Malaysians often have complex and tangled views about polygamy. Their feelings and beliefs are not always mirrored by their actions. What role does pragmatism play? What role does faith play?

ABC producer Damien Carrick meets the adventure sportsman who has climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. He jokes that keeping his two wives happy is harder than climbing Mt Everest. He meets the academic researcher who became a second wife to help an old high-school friend become a father. She also briefly contemplated a third marriage to a rich suitor but broke it off when his first wife began to harass her.

Then he meets the feminist activist who studies the Koran and interprets it as saying “one wife is best”. She now runs an international organisation that promotes women’s rights in family law systems across Muslim majority countries.

And he meets Malaysia’s first female Shariah High Court judge. She acknowledges it would break her heart if her husband announced he wanted a second wife. Nevertheless, she encourages reluctant wives to accept the inevitable, be pragmatic and allow their husband to proceed with a second marriage. The judge says this allows her to make court orders that protect the rights of the first wife and those of her children.

All sorts of Muslims, some very dynamic and modern, are embracing polygamy in Malaysia.

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

Muslim Malaysians often have complex and tangled views about polygamy. Their feelings and beliefs are not always mirrored by their actions. What role does pragmatism play? What role does faith play?

ABC producer Damien Carrick meets the adventure sportsman who has climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. He jokes that keeping his two wives happy is harder than climbing Mt Everest. He meets the academic researcher who became a second wife to help an old high-school friend become a father. She also briefly contemplated a third marriage to a rich suitor but broke it off when his first wife began to harass her.

Then he meets the feminist activist who studies the Koran and interprets it as saying “one wife is best”. She now runs an international organisation that promotes women’s rights in family law systems across Muslim majority countries.

And he meets Malaysia’s first female Shariah High Court judge. She acknowledges it would break her heart if her husband announced he wanted a second wife. Nevertheless, she encourages reluctant wives to accept the inevitable, be pragmatic and allow their husband to proceed with a second marriage. The judge says this allows her to make court orders that protect the rights of the first wife and those of her children.

All sorts of Muslims, some very dynamic and modern, are embracing polygamy in Malaysia.

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

Muslim Malaysians often have complex and tangled views about polygamy. Their feelings and beliefs are not always mirrored by their actions. What role does pragmatism play? What role does faith play?

ABC producer Damien Carrick meets the adventure sportsman who has climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. He jokes that keeping his two wives happy is harder than climbing Mt Everest. He meets the academic researcher who became a second wife to help an old high-school friend become a father. She also briefly contemplated a third marriage to a rich suitor but broke it off when his first wife began to harass her.

Then he meets the feminist activist who studies the Koran and interprets it as saying “one wife is best”. She now runs an international organisation that promotes women’s rights in family law systems across Muslim majority countries.

And he meets Malaysia’s first female Shariah High Court judge. She acknowledges it would break her heart if her husband announced he wanted a second wife. Nevertheless, she encourages reluctant wives to accept the inevitable, be pragmatic and allow their husband to proceed with a second marriage. The judge says this allows her to make court orders that protect the rights of the first wife and those of her children.

All sorts of Muslims, some very dynamic and modern, are embracing polygamy in Malaysia.

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

04Vanuatu's Stolen Generation2020020220200208 (WS)
20200206 (WS)
20200205 (WS)

On the tiny island of Tanna in Vanuatu in the South Pacific the ocean is a huge part of everyday life. The Tannanese rely on the sea for their livelihood and the beach for cultural ceremony. But 150 years ago something happened on their beaches, forever changing their relationship to the ocean.

In the 1860s throughout the Pacific Islands tens of thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and coerced from beaches and put onto boats. They were then taken thousands of kilometres away to Australia. On arrival they were made to work on sugar cane plantations.

ABC producer Fiona Pepper travels to Tanna to hear stories of the blackbirding trade, how the community continues to struggle as it lives with this history and how now, questions are being asked of Australia’s responsibility to acknowledge this brutal past.

Thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and taken to work on sugar plantations

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

On the tiny island of Tanna in Vanuatu in the South Pacific the ocean is a huge part of everyday life. The Tannanese rely on the sea for their livelihood and the beach for cultural ceremony. But 150 years ago something happened on their beaches, forever changing their relationship to the ocean.

In the 1860s throughout the Pacific Islands tens of thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and coerced from beaches and put onto boats. They were then taken thousands of kilometres away to Australia. On arrival they were made to work on sugar cane plantations.

ABC producer Fiona Pepper travels to Tanna to hear stories of the blackbirding trade, how the community continues to struggle as it lives with this history and how now, questions are being asked of Australia’s responsibility to acknowledge this brutal past.

Thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and taken to work on sugar plantations

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.

On the tiny island of Tanna in Vanuatu in the South Pacific the ocean is a huge part of everyday life. The Tannanese rely on the sea for their livelihood and the beach for cultural ceremony. But 150 years ago something happened on their beaches, forever changing their relationship to the ocean.

In the 1860s throughout the Pacific Islands tens of thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and coerced from beaches and put onto boats. They were then taken thousands of kilometres away to Australia. On arrival they were made to work on sugar cane plantations.

ABC producer Fiona Pepper travels to Tanna to hear stories of the blackbirding trade, how the community continues to struggle as it lives with this history and how now, questions are being asked of Australia’s responsibility to acknowledge this brutal past.

Thousands of boys and young men were kidnapped and taken to work on sugar plantations

Investigating global developments, issues and affairs.