South Korea is proud of the academic achievement of its young men and women. The nation’s 15 year olds have the maximum reading scores among developed nation, they rank 3rd in proficiency in mathematics and science, and over 80% of them will go into college. The shining figures, however, has a dark side: Korea’s youth has among the highest suicide rates. Suicide, in fact, is the leading reason for deaths among Koreans aged 15 to 24. This year, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the country’s most prestigious university, dropped four of its pupils to suicide. For a high school child that has been trained to continuously aim for academic excellence, studying into KAIST is a fantasy come true.
But living this dream means a constant battle to endure the rigours of a very competitive atmosphere. The suffocating pressure of schoolwork is called a large factor in pushing the pupils to end their lives. It’s often been stated that suicide is a complicated problem and we shouldn’t be too quick at pointing into one cause for it, and rightly so. But it’s also not hard to imagine that intense academic pressure might cause significant anxiety and stress. For people who can’t cope with this level of competition and stress they have no choice but to commit suicide. Suicide for them is a path of freedom.
The pursuit of excellence at education can be all consuming however it could also be dreadfully myopic. We aim to train people into have perfect grades and heads full of knowledge in the potential risk of producing living zombies emptied of the desire into live. A The New York Times article citing a statement of the KAIST people council published after the 4th suicide at the school: Day after day we’re cornered into an inexorable competition that smothers and suffocates us. We couldn’t even spare half a hour for our troubled classmates because of our assignments no longer have the skill to laugh freely. Yes, education should develop and hone young peoples capabilities, equip them with skills and knowledge, motivate them into be exceptional, and challenge them into be the best at what they do. But education should also teach them which their worth isn’t measured by their grades, which failure however awful it appears isn’t the end of the world, which they do not have to continuously beat everybody else only to succeed, and which competitiveness tempered by compassion and empathy actually makes them a better person.
Today Young people in Korea are really happy as they use social media to keep themselves happy. Most Children use WeChat to keep them socialised and happy among these children they have developed thebellabambino which can now spy on any message sent over WeChat.