Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Art on the wire and online: Jean-Hubert Martin on curating in cyberspace

Read more

FOCUS

Inside China's answer to Silicon Valley

Read more

ACCESS ASIA

Behind the scenes at China's Harbin snow festival

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Donald Trump is a great friend of Israel'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2017: World Economic Forum wary of post-Brexit future

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Great Brexpectations'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Trump's anti-European 'attack'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Davos 2017: Business leaders confident despite 2016 turmoil

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gambian citizens flee ahead of Barrow inauguration

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

Latest update : 2010-03-05

"Children... Ten, HUT!"

School’s out, military and combat training are in: it’s a holiday programme that’s all the rage in South Korea. More and more families are sending their children to military camps during the holidays to toughen them up. But when faced with this soldier’s life, some of them can’t take it...

Muju, a small town located in the centre of South Korea. It’s vacation time, and 41 children from all over the country have gathered here. They are not attending a summer camp, but a boot camp. The youngest ones are 10 years old, the oldest 18. They are cut off from the outside world: no mobile phones are allowed, nor access to the internet. Pocket money is confiscated at the camp entrance, so as to prevent the kids from purchasing snacks.

Nothing is allowed to distract them from their training. The rhythm is intense: they wake up at dawn, exercise bare-chested on an empty stomach in the cold, immerse their bodies in freezing water and abseil down the side of a building… Five instructors, all former South Korean Marines, keep watch on them.

It’s a shock for most of the kids. Some burst into tears, and that’s exactly what the camp is there for: an emotionally trying lesson in discipline, teamwork, and surpassing their own limits.

In South Korea - where military culture still has a strong influence on society - many believe that the young generation, which did not experience the war and consequent economic hardship, has become weak, both in mind and spirit, and needs to toughen up.

Indeed, on a daily basis, children are often spoiled by their mothers who try their best to ease the pressure kids endure at school from a very young age. In South Korea, the school leaving exam is not just a simple examination, but a gruelling competition in which only those with the highest scores are allowed to enter the country’s most prestigious universities. It is very common for kids to attend after-school classes at as early as primary school level. This leaves little room for sport or other leisure activities.

This is why parents do not hesitate to spend 300 euros - no small sum for middle-class families - to send their children to boot camps.

The Muju Marine Strategy Camp is one of many in the country. In 2009, 5,000 children came here and enrolment increases by 10% per year. The camp’s director plans to open similar facilities in China, Japan, and even in Europe.

By Nathalie TOURRET , Julien ALRIC

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-01-13 USA

Video: Meeting Trump voters in Wisconsin

On January 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as 45th president of the United States. With his promise of radical change in American politics, he won several states that until...

Read more

2017-01-05 Africa

Dadaab: Growing up in the world’s largest refugee camp

Located in eastern Kenya, near the Somali border, is Dadaab. This sprawling refugee camp is home to some 280,000 people, most of them from Somalia. Over the past 25 years, a...

Read more

2016-12-26 Middle East

Exclusive: Embedded with Iraqi special forces in Mosul

For more than two months, Iraqi forces have fought to retake Mosul from Islamic State group militants. A quarter of the city has been recaptured but the jihadists are still...

Read more

2016-12-23 migrants

Ferrette: The French village giving hope to migrants

It’s been almost a year since Ferrette, a tiny village in France’s Alsace region, transformed one of its old army barracks into a reception centre for refugees seeking asylum....

Read more

2016-12-15 Asia-pacific

Video: The Philippines’ ruthless war on drugs

Since Rodrigo Duterte took office in the Philippines in June, rarely does a night go by without dozens of bullet-riddled bodies being discovered in the streets of Manila. The new...

Read more