A few years ago, National Assembly council members dismissed a bill about giving tax incentives to left-handed products manufacturers, even before it was reached to vote, by saying “Those left-handed suffer far less than those who are disabled or pregnant”. But actually being left-handed is quite an obstacle to live in this right-handed world. Not only most commodities like scissors are made for the right-handed, but also it is inconvenient to tag a card when you get on a bus if you are left-handed. Simply put, the whole world is generally designed for right-handed people.
I can put up with some kind of discomfort as I know right-handed people make up majority in Korean society. But the issue is that many people consider that the left is “the wrong”, which obviously demonstrated in many languages as well as Korean. That is, people so easily replace a matter of “major or minor” with a matter of “right or wrong” or “superior or inferior,” stigmatizing unfamiliar or different people as evil, a universal phenomenon beyond questions of their race or language. The attitude often grows into discrimination against sexual, cultural, religious or racial minority group.
Given the situation, some might worry that intolerance against minority could be inscribed into human genes, but, to my relief, that does not seem to be true. According to a study conducted in the U.K., people known as left-handed accounted for just about 3 percent of the total population in England in 1900, whereas the figure went up over 11% worldwide in 2007. The result suggests that though genetically 8 to 15 percent of people are estimated to be left-handed, some English people in 1900 had to hide that they were one of those left-handed under social and cultural pressure and only 3 percent could tell they prefer to use left hand. As society becomes more open, the number of people who actually use left hand in real life comes to get closer to the genetic estimate.
One domestic survey calculated that in Korea left-handed people represent 4.8 to 6.6 percent of all population. I see that means Korea falls behind advanced countries in terms of openness and diversification. Should we console ourselves that the number is about twofold compared with that of the U.K. in its early 20th century? Or should we feel shameful about that the figure stands at half the global average at present?
In the US, lefties represent about 11% of the population. Of course, being the politically correct society that we purport to be, we make accommodations for left-handers. (Well, at least in public schools. It is the law. For example, in any class that required the use of scissors - art class, sewing class, etc - there were always X amount of left-handed scissors available.)
Overall, more males than females are left-handed. I'm wondering if the Korean population consists of more males than females (which would partially account for the lower percentage of lefties)? Several studies have also shown that the pregnant women who undergo a high number of ultrasound scans while pregnant are more likely to give birth to a left-handed child.
And there are studies that suggest that left-handedness is genetic. For example, the majority of persons who stutter or suffer from dyslexia are left-handed. Scientists have isolated the LRRTM1 gene as being a possible link to lefty-ness, but studies are still in progress.
Raymott/ Thank you so much!
Ouisch/ Thank you for you comment. I didn't know that men are more likely to be left-handed than women. Korea has slightly more men than women, the sex ratio(the number of men per 100 women) is around 110, so that might be one of the reasons.
I also figure that kids born as left-handers in Korea get to use both hands as they grow. At least when I was young (I'm not sure still mothers do that), mothers used to admonish their kids to use right hand instead of left hand. So they had to 'learn' to use right hand.