Every year on May 5th, we celebrate Children’s Day in Korea. Children of all ages are celebrated during this day. There are many events held for children?magic shows, puppet shows, live performances, art contests, and other outdoor activities. Parents give their children gifts and take them to amusement parks, movie theaters, museums, expos, and so on. This is one day when kids can be kids. For a day, they don’t have to worry about school or homework. They can spend the whole day with their families, go out and have some fun. Boy, what a day!
We all know that life in Korea can be extraordinarily stressful even for children. People lead exhausting, ultra-busy lives. There are not enough hours in the day to keep up with all of our responsibilities at home and at work. It is the same for children, too. I personally think that Korea is a very challenging environment for children to grow up in. Children as early as primary school are under tremendous academic pressure. Children have to take private tutoring lessons and go to after-school academies until 10 or 11 p.m. Compared to students in the U.S. or Japan, Korean kids spend a much longer 50-hour a week of studying, but with very limited hours to play or do any physical exercises.
Competition is a big factor in the Korean school system and society pushes them to be the best in their class. Because of stress, many children experience mental and physical problems. The strong competition drives children to escape, getting hooked on computer games. The social pressure can lead to depression, sometimes ending in suicide.
Children, unlike adults, have fewer coping mechanisms. They do not have the maturity or experience to deal with stress. They have very few outlets for that stress. We have to come up with solutions to ease the pressure on children. Kids must act like kids. They have to run around and play, make noise, and be silly. Being a child is bliss. A child must live in the present. A child must not worry about the future or the past. A child must stay innocent. Innocence is the most important aspect of being a child. A child must not be stressed about homework, grades, or tests. Wouldn’t it be nice if could guarantee our children a rosy, perfect childhood? Children should be happy and carefree.
Next time you are around kids, take sometime and watch them. Then you will know what I mean.
Cecile Hwang -
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