Helen Lee, a student with Jason's RISE (Renshaw Internet School of English) program, makes the case that Korean moms and dads need to teach their children how to fish - rather than just giving them the fish...
According to the National Statistical Office, one out of three Koreans aged over 15 were jobless for the whole of last year. People who stayed employed for the whole year totaled 69.1% of 26.15 million, or 18.25 million. The rest held jobs for less than one year.
As the number shows, the problem of unemployment at young ages seems to be one of the severe headaches for Korean society.
In my opinion, there is a major reason why such high rate of unemployment among the young is inevitable. Although it is true that general employment number is reduced by the advent of machine manufacturing, the most crucial cause is in fact based on the general characteristic of young people’s attitudes these days. The generation has changed and the teenagers of today have grown up in the relatively prosperous environment compare to that of their parents’ adolescence.
In the past, many teenagers had to work to earn money and support their families but these days, the financial task is the responsibility of parents in a big way. Thus, teenagers naturally become accustomed to the easy way of life and this tendency makes them seek the easy route when they choose their future careers. As many Korean rich kids prefer to wear clothes with famous brand name, many Korean young people pursue their jobs based on company or profession ‘name value’ and generally avoid any physically demanding occupations. In addition, their pride that they have in being high educated with college diplomas does not allow them to feel satisfaction with the idea of work related to blue-collar jobs.
I think that we, as a country and as a society, must quickly take action to change this perception. For this, systemic alternative in the education options for the young is necessary. Korean students are pushed to focus on only their studies by the system of Korean education. It causes a shortage of working experience for the young and such shortage greatly narrow the range of possible future careers. Thus, the purpose of Korean education should not be stay locked in only academic pathway but try to expose students to the real world life and work as well. For this to happen, assigning certain time for part time jobs or career experiences in addition to the academic curriculum would be helpful to relieve the problem and to encourage the Korean teenagers to recognize the importance of perspiration.
Also, in order to improve this situation, parents’ attitudes toward their kids need to change in some ways. Most parents usually want their children to not go through the hardships that they themselves had to encounter during their adolescence. Thus, they have tried their best to raise kids in the best environment possible for as long as they could provide it. However, this way of education is to give the kids fishes. Korean parents need to change their way of education in order to teach their children how to fish. Although it can be hard for the parents to see their kids working or fighting unsupported against hardships, it is obvious that this way of teaching would greatly help their children to be strong and to open their eyes, breaking the set notion about demanding careers and setbacks.
The great number of unemployed young people is challenging problem for Korean society. It might even cause problems in the longer term. However, as long as the Korean education system and parents allow a little change and broader vision, I believe that the rate of jobless young people could be decreased. A balanced rate of participation in variety of career fields would in turn encourage Korean society at various levels and facilitate a stronger, more diverse economy overall.
Helen Lee (이가현) recently graduated from Kyoungbuk Foreign Language High School in South Korea. She comes from a small city called Haman in Gyeongnam province, and is currently preparing for business management studies at universities in the United States.
Helen's essay is a follow up to online interactive discussion about current national and global issues in English language news media.