Outdated principles evoke resistanceThe university I went to forbid its students from getting married while enrolled. Because of this rule, one of my classmates had to leave the school when she got married. When I was a senior, a student returned to school after taking time off. She had gotten married and even had children. But all this was kept secret, of course. Everyone in the class knew about her marriage, but we all kept silent. The professors probably knew but turned a blind eye. Thanks to our silence, she graduated from college. Her husband and child attended the commencement ceremony, and I smiled and politely avoided them.
I did not, and still don’t, regret overlooking her violation of the school regulation. The school must have had desperate reasons to ban students from getting married when it established the rule, but in my time it was only outdated and backward. I felt quite appalled by the principle as the school maintained the anachronistic rule just because it was a part of tradition. A rule defined by people is often a product of past experiences. We remained quiet about our married classmate because we didn’t want to give up contemporary and future values to preserve the tradition of the past.
Recently, I heard news just as frustrating and backward about the Korea Military Academy. We have all heard of the troubles some cadets have made. There has been a rape, and cadets were drinking and getting massage service during an overseas volunteer trip and paying to have sex with a teenager. The academy has created a task force to reform the system and culture among the cadets. They want to reinforce the existing three prohibitions of drinking, smoking and marriage to discipline the cadets. The scope of dating and relationships is defined specifically. The academy is trying to tighten discipline with restrictions and repressions.
It’s been three decades since I graduated from college, and I don’t fully understand the mind-set and culture of the college students today. But when even I feel frustrated by these bans, will the young students buy them? Of course, the older generation finds the younger generation to be inconceivable. They were born and raised when Korea became richer and individuality is maximized. It may be natural that those who lived fighting against dictatorship and for democracy and those who were born into affluence cannot understand each other. Times have changed and outdated methods cannot and will not control them.
The Korea Military Academy trains and educates the country’s security and military elite. If conventional education raises outdated elites who fail to read the changes of the times, it could be disastrous for the nation. Outdated principles will not be respected and evoke resistance.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by YANG SUNNY