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2017-11-21 17:37
By Kim Jin-hyun



A few years ago, one of my students jumped from a 15th-floor apartment balcony and died.

The day Before he made that choice, the boy spent time with three friends at his house and told them about his pain, but they ignored it, thinking it was nothing out of the ordinary. As soon as they left his house, however, he said goodbye to this world.

His mom raised him in the Christian value of modesty, but his father, a tough seaman, didn’t accept his son’s identity as it was. He always rebuked his son’s personality whenever he was drunk, saying “you behave like a girl.” His father’s prejudice made their relationship uncomfortable, and this persistent negative message caused the boy to live under constant pressure and stress.

Whenever the boy had problems with his friends, he made it a rule to write about it in his diary on his laptop. But one day, his secret diary was leaked. While perhaps he should have asked teachers or his parents for help, his indecisiveness drove him to continue to endure the pain alone.

In fact, he had been taking medicine for depression. He was tall and strong, but he suffered from a low self-esteem. He wasn’t able to respond to his peers who jeered “you behave like a gay or an old man.”

As the boy entered high school, both of his parents left their house and worked far away to earn money for their son’s upcoming college education. They came home only on weekends. This situation exacerbated his loneliness, which might have driven him to give up on life.

In the 2000s, after IMF in South Korea, catchphrases such as “Competence is everything” and “Be rich” urged citizens to become more competitive and more egoistic. As a result, such new ideology brought our society into utter confusion related negative effects.

For example, today students’ only purpose seem to be to maintain high grades in school, graduate from prestigious colleges and earn money afterward. The younger generation, employed or not, enjoy a “solo culture.” An increase in citizens’ absolute poverty forced their parents to work all day, and leaving them to pursue their education alone.

These social changes, namely grade-obsessed students, economic polarization and generational conflict, have disrupted traditional values, and consequently, have caused citizens to become more melancholic, hopeless or worse, suicidal.

On this phenomenon, American Psychiatrist Rollo May (1909-1994) said in his book, “The Cry for Myth” that in the 1970s, American society had serious issues, such as medical poisoning, melancholia and pseudo-religions, which were all due to collapsing personal identities because of the emphasis on money and excessive competition. Rollo said such syndrome were caused by “losing myth.”

In Korea during the 2000s, the idea of losing myth means that people ignored the basic values taught by our forefathers. They lost their bearings and doomed themselves, turning to drugs, alcohol, violence or suicide.

Thus, the boy was one of the victims who didn’t adapt to the egoistic and competitive society. He lived as different personalities — a good son to his parents, an outsider to his peers and a model student to hi teachers. Living like caused more pain for him. Even on the day he died, his friends’ closed-mindedness may have prevented him from wanting to continue living. But may he live in heaven as he hoped to!


The writer works at Jeonnam Natural Science High School in South Jeolla Province And can be reached by email at shinykim60@hanmail.net.


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