On episode 71 of JTBC’s talk show “Non-Summit,” which aired on November 9th 2015, the panel discussed “Stratification due to family wealth.” Singer Hwang Chi-yeol made a guest appearance on the show, sharing his views on social stratification and a polarized society.
In a nation where youth unemployment hovers around 10 percent and the economy faces a prolonged slowdown, “people born with gold spoon” is a popular sarcastic term here, referring to those who are born wealthy. “Parachute appointments,” a term that refers to the act of appointing or hiring an untested individual based solely on the person’s connections, and evasion of military service among affluent families are so common here in Korea. Based on the family wealth and income, people are also graded as “silver spoon” or “dirt spoon.”
Hwang Chiyeul said, “I never applied the term to my parents because I don’t want to portray my parents as spoons. But, if I have to say, I am kind of in the middle (not rich or poor).”
“When I first came to Seoul 10 years ago, I had only 200,000 won ($170) in my pocket. I saw friends with rich parents look more confident but I had nothing to rely on,” he added.
Still, he said, “I found it exciting to overcome the hardship.”
Tyler Rasch from the U.S. said, “In a capitalist economy, money generates money. Without wealth distribution at a macro level, it will be difficult to deal with the polarization.”
Nikolai Johnsen from Norway said, “In my country, even the rich do not pass on their wealth to their children because the nation aims to eliminate social stratification.”
He added, “Because of its welfare system, we have no poor people. We only have the middle class and rich people,” causing envy among the panelists.
Daniel Lindemann from Germany wrapped up the show with a comment from one Korean student, who is studying in Korea University.
He said, “I will feel sad if my parents found out they passed on a ‘dirt spoon’ to me. But, I am sure I got good dirt from my parents. I can deeply take root and grow well on it,” impressing the panel.
The talk show ”Non-Summit“ airs every Monday at 11:10 p.m.