[Letters] Stray youths in Korea

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[Letters] Stray youths in Korea

We receive news of suicides in Korea everyday. Many of them involve young people. According to the Korea National Statistical Office, suicide was top ranked in causes of death among those aged 15-24 in 2010. Young people are committing suicide even while they are still preparing for life in the real world. There are three reasons why.

First, the fever for education is a problem. Most parents want their children to study harder and get better grades than anyone else - so, parents make their kids go to hagwons, or cram schools, because that’s what all the other students are doing. Students can’t have time to find their true interests because of all the daunting study. They only study to get good grades and go a prestigious university.

Second, the education system is a problem. Schools don’t offer many chances for children to find their talents. Students only take an aptitude test once per year, and they take that test just for the fun of it. School counseling programs for pinpointing personal interests are also poorly organized. In Germany, schools offer a variety of chances to students. They don’t compare students by grades. But in Korea, too much of education is obsessed with study and disregards the differences between children.

Third, the social atmosphere in Korea is problem. People today pursue wealth, universities and fame. People also evaluate each other by their wealth, universities and fame. In most cases, many people ask parents about their kid’s grades and the name of their kid’s school or university. Moreover, Korean society doesn’t permit failure, so people are terrified to fail. Parents think studying is important only because study is a safe way to succeed. So, even though they don’t care for learning, they study for safe success.

The Kaist student who killed himself a few weeks ago wrote “My passion is gone” in his suicide note. If he had been on the road to his real dream, he might not have died. I think many students of Korea have fake dreams, and they don’t acknowledge the real ones because of fear, anxiety and lack of experience. This was also my problem - but I heard the special lecture by Han Bi-ya at Kaist, and she said that her work makes her heart beat. The most important element for a dream is passion - and if youths find their true passion, they might not flicker out in the face of adversity.

Choi Il-song, a student at Kaist

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.
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