Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornography without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

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

Comments

COMMENT(S)

 
 
Archives

2014-04-11 Algerian presidential elections

Is Algeria’s civil society mobilising?

Algeria goes to the polls on April 17th with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika vying for a fourth term. Yet the ailing 77-year-old president, who spent most of past year in hospital...

Read more

2014-04-04 United Nations

Rwanda: The last genocide of the 20th century

On April 6 1994, the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down by a missile. Within a day, the country was gripped by a murderous wave of violence. Between...

Read more

2014-03-28 World Cup

Worked to death in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup

Every day Nepalese workers venture to the Gulf States in search of a better life. Some of these workers will not survive. Those who do receive little or no wages and are given...

Read more

2014-03-21 Sahara

Mali's peace caravan

In Mali, thousands of civilians are still displaced in neighbouring countries. In an effort to encourage their return, musicians have organised a huge caravan crossing the Sahara...

Read more

2014-03-14 Syria

The inside story on when Assad crossed the ‘red line’

A chemical weapons attack targeted the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013. The West threatened air strikes in response, and Syria agreed to destroy its chemical arms stockpile....

Read more