A Strenuous Lifestyle: Perspective from Across the Sea

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Many questions are thrown our way as we grow up- what do you like to do, what are your hobbies, and ultimately, what do you want to do with your life? As it is molded into our brains at a young age, most children would probably say that they want to become a doctor without hesitation. Many question this seemingly mindless response as they grow older, and it’s no mystery why. We are conditioned as children to think that high-paying, societal-advancing jobs make us successful, but more so, make our parents proud. Playing doctor at a young age instead of artist, oftentimes we are told by our parents that creative gifts such as drawing or singing are nothing more than mere hobbies, and will lead to no successful career- meaning a low-paying paying job as an opening act, or drawing caricatures of people on the pier. Although it may make them happy, jobs like those don’t bring home money, and in the absence of money, it doesn’t matter how happy you are, you’re considered a failure to society. As children, we are expected to study diligently at a young age so we can get into the best school possible and obtain an amazing job to not end up being deemed a “failure”. This standard is especially true of South Korean youths. In South Korea, society’s hopes for students are high, even at a young age. High school students study in majority of their free time, all for the sake of succeeding, and in turn, lack a “real” social life. “Children, we like to believe, should have time to play and dream and sleep” (Gladwell 266). This is the opposite case in South Korea. Korea’s expectation for students is to study now and, after they ensured admission to a respectable university, live later. With their society’s portrayal of the perfect child as one of exceptional intelligence and outstanding grades, people, especially those of the Korean ethnicity, are portrayed in society as brains and bookworms who study tirelessly all for the sake of success. The South Korean formula combines...
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