It will take more than a disease to keep us from watching a trending Korean drama
Lockdowns, quarantine, masks, hand sanitizer, Zoom, social distancing. Words that became commonplace in our daily vocabulary since February of 2020. The era before the pandemic feels like another world now, and many believe that we well never return to that. But life goes on, a bit different than it was before, but it goes on. We have simply adapted ourselves to overcome the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon us, from the finite details of covering our noses and mouths when going out to restricting travel from certain countries. Some argue that the pandemic will bring an end to globalization, however I believe that it will not end, instead it will only alter the course of it because due to advancements in technology and general consumer trends, globalization persist because its benefits supersede the disadvantages of an unglobalized world.
Starting in a capital city in China, the virus now more commonly known as COVID-19, easily swept across the globe until it became a pandemic and by mid 2020 the entire world had placed restrictions and regulations in attempt to slow the spread of the virus and lower death rates. Within these restrictions, borders closed, trade slowed, and countries began to fight. This caused a break in the ongoing trend of globalization. With closed off borders and countries feuding, how was the world supposed to continue interacting?
While it might be easy to assume that it was the pandemic that led to a decline in trade between countries, according to Zachary Karabell trade was already in decline prior to the pandemic. He states in his article in the Wall Street Journal, “Even before the virus, there were indications of both a pause and a modest pullback in globalization. Last year, global trade contracted a smidgen, by less than 1%, but at $19 trillion, it was still higher than any year before the record-setting 2018.” This means that it was not only the pandemic that slowed down trade between countries, instead countries had already predetermined to shift to self-sufficiency rather than relying on others. During the Trump administration, the idea of self-sufficiency was of great importance to the Republican party even before the beginning of the pandemic. However, this was only seen more prominently when these ideas were forced to be imposed upon the greater majority when the virus disrupted trade. One thing Karabell does not consider, however, is that the globalization does not solely rely on trade and economic relationships between countries.
While countries may have turned more towards self-sufficiency and a decrease in trade, this does not mean an end to globalization, much less one brought on by the pandemic. Globalization does not solely rely on economics and the trade of goods and services. And while the pandemic did cause a rift in some countries’ relationships, an effort to mend to those relationships is steadily increasing. Globalization is about the interaction and spreading of cultures across borders. There may be rough bumps along the road but nothing in life can be perfect. People always find a way to come together after each other’s hardships. While throughout the pandemic have been instances of conflicts between races and ethnicities such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the increase in violence against Asian Americans in the United States following the spread of the pandemic, once those struggles subsided people became once again united over common interests in one another’s cultures. A prominent example of this is the continual spread of K-Pop and Korean entertainment across the globe. Most recently, Netflix released a new Korean drama that was an instant hit by the name of Squid Game. Despite differences in culture that were depicted in the drama, people all over the world seemed to really enjoy the show. This shows how it is not business relationships that define globalization, it is about people and how we interact with one another and one another’s culture even from far away. But at the same time, globalization can also be appreciated from up close by travel and tourism, however the pandemic severely hindered that from being possible, at least in the physical sense, yet it will surely not remain this way forever.
With the closing of borders, another economic, but also social aspect, that was affected by the pandemic was the tourism industry. Because of an easily transmittable disease simply floating around in the air, many countries decided to curb the influx of tourist into their land, not to mention the public’s lack of desire to risk contracting a viral disease by getting in a crowded aircraft for a short vacation. However, while there was a significant drop in tourism even after the vaccines began, this doesn’t mean that this trend will continue as the world slowly returns to normal following the height of the pandemic. According to Jeff Hurst, president of online vacation home rental site Vrbo in Austin, Texas, and marketing co-lead at parent company Expedia Group, in a CNBC article by Kenneth Kiesnoski, “We’re increasingly seeing people optimistic about traveling, either as soon as this spring or into the summer.” People are tired of being coped up in their homes after lockdowns and social distancing requirements, and while in the beginning of the pandemic many believed that the slow of tourism would remain even after major global vaccination, now as people are gaining more confidence in the efficacy of vaccines and the initial panic of contracting COVID-19 has decreased, they are getting ready to resume their family vacations and business travels. While it is understandable that according to David Faris in his article states, “many industry experts don’t believe there will be a sustained tourism rebound until 2023 or 2024,” this does not mean that tourism will end because of the pandemic. If anything, it only demonstrates the resilience of countries and their citizens to continue crossing borders in order to explore new places and learn new cultures. However, while some countries remain closed off to in person visits, the pandemic has brought to light many alternative methods to interact with one another that were used to prevent the spread of the viral disease.
Zoom became the world’s next Google in terms of popularity when the pandemic hit. Schools went virtual, many jobs turned to work from home, business trips became online meetings, leading millions of people across the globe to turn to Zoom to resume their daily lives without standing or sitting mere feet from their coworkers and classmates. While many study abroad trips were cancelled primarily due to travel restrictions, universities and other educational institutions still found a way to proceed with their programs even from a distance. Along with Zoom many companies and schools had to get creative on how they would maintain interactions between people while being far away. Zoom is just one of the many ways that we as global citizens were able to adapt and find new ways to overcome challenges and prevent globalization from coming to an end.
Globalization gives us many benefits that we otherwise would not have known of if we’d never experienced them, such as trade, alliances, the sharing of cultures; it is clear even after so long of wearing our masks and social distancing that it will take a lot more than a viral disease to take such pleasures and benefits away from us. After well over a year of a pandemic-world it is clear to see the world may never return to the way it was, but that does mean the world will end, nor will globalization.