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[Opinion] “Youth ID Card”

Posted August. 01, 2003 21:46,   


The Korean society puts great value in educational background. Still, there are many people who have succeeded without taking the regular education. The former-President of Youngdong University in North Chungcheong, Korea, Kim Jae-kyu, had only graduated from elementary school. Renowned movie-director Lim Kwon-taek is a middle school drop-out and the writer of TV soup opera “Tears of a Dragon” Lee Hwan-kyung is just an elementary school graduate. World-class hairdresser Park Jun is another elementary school graduate. These success stories of the people who have succeeded in their fields without receiving standard education appear frequently in the media.

▷Successful people have commonality of overcoming such challenges and achieving their goal by working harder than others. These people, however, had to go through bitter trials and failures. Companies they apply for reject them for their low educational levels, and even when they get the jobs they have to suffer discriminations. They always have to feel the sense of alienation in the society that has such a strong school fraternity. As a child, they have to just envy their peers going to school in school uniforms.

▷As of the end of last year, the number of the youth aged 9 to 24, as stipulated in the Youth Fundamental Law, is 11.378 million in Korea. Among them, only 8million 354thousand attend regular schools and an astonishing 22%, which is 2million 474thousand(excluding 550thousand who are in service), is not attending schools. These teenagers face discriminations in various ways and it is the same for those attending alternative schools. It`s hard for them to get visas and they have to accompany their parents to open up a bank account. Moreover, they face difficulties in getting even a part-time job due to their uncertain status in the society. Many teens are reduced to delinquency after going through such hardships.

▷The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that from next month, it will issue “Youth ID Card” for these teenagers, so that they can also enjoy the discount benefits for public transportation and cultural institutions which only the regular students could enjoy. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism also announced that it is coming up with a comprehensive measures for the teens who are not attending schools. Civil society is the one that does not unjustly discriminate anyone in the society and accepting them as a rightful member, whether they be a student or not, the disabled or not, or the rich or the poor. These measures, however, are not enough. The society should give more attention and support to these youths. Moreover, it`s important to lower the rate of the youth who are not going to school. The challenging spirit of competent and ambitious working teens should not die out in the face of discrimination and inhospitality of the society.

Song Young-eon, Editorial Writer, youngeon@donga.com