Kids aren’t alright

Kids are killing themselves. The media is carpet-bombing tons of articles related to recent suicides of students who were bullied by their classmates. They blame the bullies and their parents, schools for their wrongdoing. But I think that these blames are missing the point and in some aspects, they are even deceiving.

My point is not that they shouldn’t be blamed or that ostracizing has a long history whereever human resides so it can’t be an issue. The media shuns from looking the issue squarely to find a fundamental solution.

Am I the only one who is thinking that killing himself out of pressure of grades from parents or even killing his own mother who were beating her high schooler son with a golf club is worse and more important issue, which is shortly consigned to oblivion along the media’s indifference?

It is all too easy to blame someone in a situation where victim and culprit are clearly separated. Culprit: bad, victim: poor. End of story. Indeed, probably they don’t want to deal with a situation where everyone is a victim and a culprit at the same time — they have to make the readers feel uncomfortable by pointing out even one of us is to blame if they are going to ask for a real, fundamental solution.

Education is a fundamental, complicated issue here. Academic capital is the single most important capital in the South Korean society and its importance overwhelms the others’. 95.5% of students including infants are participating in private education and the estimated market size is about $34 billion and it is 3.8% of nominal GDP. People here are suffering from hardship due to an economic bipolarization but they don’t dare to cut down their expense on private education at all! I’ve been wondering, why?

On the way of achieving an unprecedented economic growth in a (relatively) short span of a generation, setting education, in other words accumulating academic capital a top priority was well rewarded. Probably almost all of the nation have at least once heard of “rags to riches through education” story. It seems to me that a spectre, with a memory of rapid advancement in social status by education is still haunting among the people’s minds while the memory is withering away fast in reality — a map of the SK social status is getting fixated and the door is closing. A sense of defeat which is draped over today’s youth reflects this fact, I guess.

(Though I am not sure why, college students are wearing recently more “school jackets,” baseball jackets embroidered with the name of the college and the department to which a student belongs. It would be very interesting to analyse this phenomenon. I am not the only one who feels this way: the media is curious, too.)

The spectre is still haunting and some of us are obsessive to even project their unfulfilled dreams on their children compulsively. (and I’m going to write about these obsessions, which is at the same time horrible and ridiculous, in South Korea sooner or later.) Obsession and compulsion hurt and they leave a wound behind. The wound lurks deep into one’s heart, waiting for someone to pass itself on and a chain of pain begins. I might be being too emotional here but I have to emphasize that this is a very serious issue. It has to be cut down sooner than later. Again, a boy is killing himself out of his poor grade and a mother is beating her own son for a poor grade, with a golf club, and her son is going to put a knife into his mother’s throat.


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