|▲ Kim Ye-seul, who quited Korea Uninversity, is holding on picket to accuse contradiction of universities.|
"I quit, no, deny going to college today. Koreans in their twenties, they are afraid of whether they will be in the G-generation('G' is abbreviated for global and green mind.) or the 880 thousand won-generation(Their average monthly salary ends up being 880 thousand won). When I became 20 years old, I choose to leave this struggle behind because I believe that it is the only way to be free from this reality of Korea."
A hand written poster was posted on May 10th of this year at Korea University (KU). Kim Ye-seul, who had been a junior of KU, put up the poster which contained her reasons for leaving college. She also held a solo demonstration exclaiming to the president, professors, and students of the campus.
After being reported on TV and in newspapers, her proclamation began to attract the public's attention. Many people felt the same way. A cyber cafe on a portal site dedicated to her today has over 3000 visitors. Still she refused interview requests from the media. About one month later, her book will be published and this will likely satisfy the public’s curiosity.
The book, I Quit, No, Deny Going to College Today, criticizes the contradiction of education in Korea. According to it, the nation and universities educate students to be components used in enterprises. The nation provides compulsory education for twelve years per citizen, expecting the students to grow up as standardized workers. Students stand in line to compete with each other. Their dreams are contaminated dreams from an early age and are related only with money and honor. In other words, they never dream or think outside of the designated box to develop their own personalities and become creative thinkers.
Many college students seek to acquire more and more certificates and increase their work experience with the sole motivation of being employed, before realizing what they really want to do. For example, a student who wants to be a cook has to enter a university and acquire their license. Even if that student studies recipes by themselves and has outstanding talent, it will be too difficult for them to be recognized in the restaurant business without a diploma or license.
While the significance of college education is growing, its quality, however, is declining. Students find easier classes so they can get better grades at the beginning of each semester, which may not guarantee the best education. Main libraries of universities are full of students during exam periods only. A diploma is treated as nothing more than another certificate for getting into companies. Because the employment situation is bad in Korea, many intellectuals graduate and wander around the campus or institutes looking for jobs. Long hours of work and high salaries become useless things unless one can find a job.
Kim Ye-seul pointed out the fundamental cause of this phenomenon is capitalism. In the era of capitalism, the be-all and end-all is money. The cyber cafe that is dedicated to her is attempting to change this and has been an influence for many to change their lives. Cho Sol, one of the members of the cyber cafe, said, "I contributed myself to capitalism by working as a teacher in an institute, but now I am a farmer, because farming is what I have always really wanted to do. By educating my children within the beauty of nature, there is nothing better. They don't need to feel a sense of rivalry. They can learn how to socialize with others in a truly natural way."
Shin he, a traveler, said, "When you find your dream, consider if you are really happy when you do it. I don't have a job now, but my work is learning the lives and cultures of other people. It is impossible to live with no money in the city. The matter of making my life abundant is up to me, not society". When she graduated college, she realized she was also a child who had to be cared for still from her parents. This was because she could not find a job even though she was educated for 16 years. She chose to travel to Thailand, India, and China, among other countries for more than a year. The experiences of her penniless journeys gave her insights to herself, other people, and the world. After grasping the fact she feels happy when traveling with no money, she has now became a traveler, a wanderer, a nomad.
Kim Ye-seul's declaration is being forgotten slowly as the media have topped reporting about her. Perhaps, the life of a farmer is not for everyone, but let us be free from all of those obstacles standing in the way of our dreams.
Yun Seon-ju firstname.lastname@example.org
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