South Korean Kids Get a Taste of Boot Camp

So here's an interesting article I picked up from

South Korean kids get a taste of boot camp

You should read the full article, but here are some excerpts:

"The Blue Dragon Marine Corps Training Camp is the brainchild of Park Kyung-hoon, a rock-hard 52-year-old former drill sergeant who sees the younger generation as a sorry lot: physically fragile, undisciplined and weak-minded, hunched over their computers playing video games, talking trash to their overworked parents.

"But the moms and dads aren't blameless. They grew up during the lean years after the Korean War, and many overcompensate with their children, giving them everything they didn't have.

"Finally, after years of such pampering, some parents realize that their young need more discipline to become better students and more conscientious adults...

"Unlike similar camps in the United States, where such tough treatment is usually reserved for youths with drug problems or those in trouble with the law, South Korea's kiddie boot camps are a rod not spared from the average child...

"Some spend as little as three days here. But there's also a 14-day regimen, for nearly $1,000, that attracts the hard-luck cases: wallflowers and schoolyard bullies, kids addicted to the Internet and those who know no boundaries with parents or anyone else.

"The cadets, 70% of them boys, show up on a bus, many duped by their parents into thinking that they're heading for a beach break...

"Some children buckle under the physical pressure. That's when Park goes from drill sergeant to camp counselor.

"I explain to them that there are going to be a lot tougher times in life," he says. I say, 'Enjoy your childhood, but use it as an opportunity to build character. Embrace the pain.' "

"He's talking about the much-dreaded gas mask drill: Cadets sit inside a room filled with red-pepper mist and remove their masks long enough to sing the South Korean national anthem. One kid was so traumatized that he threatened to call the police.

"It was terrible," says Kim Mi-jin, 17. "I couldn't breathe. I couldn't speak. My face was scratchy. All I could do was cry."

"But after thinking about it, Kim says she's glad she did it. 'I think I'm learning to be more confident. I realize life isn't all about me.'

"Park has seen transformations in other kids.

"'They get bolder. Even their voices change,' he says. 'On the first day, I might hear 10 voices out of group of 200. By the last, I can hear every last one of them. It's a thundering chorus.'"

Wow, let me tell you, that is one hardcore bootcamp for kids that would never fly here in the States. I've gone through the gas chamber drill where you take off your gas mask and inhale tear gas. To say that you can't breathe is an understatement. You're violently coughing, because it's your body's natural reaction to get rid of the tear gas from your throat and lungs. But it doesn't help, because each time you're coughing, you're reinhaling that crap. Your eyes swell shut, and tears stream down your face. Snot is coming out of your nose like spaghetti.

Anyway, I don't think it's just kids who are soft and spoiled. Most adults that I've run across here in the States lack discipline, initiative and emotional resiliency. The thing is that there will always be generational differences. You can't fault a generation for not having life experiences if they're just coming on to the scene. Some people have never been drafted into war, dealt with racism and adversity, played sports, been in customer service, created a business, lived on their own, got into a physical altercation, etc. They've never had to take care of others. Hell, some of them don't even know how to take care of themselves.

What we can fault these little brats for is when they have a poor attitude and feel entitled to everything. As a Gen X'er, my advice to the younger folk is to maintain a good attitude, work hard but smart, treat other people with respect, constantly grow and develop as a person, and understand that you will have to prove yourself out in the real world. You are not entitled to anything. You have to earn everything.

Realize that although you may not have the life experiences yet, you will grow and develop into whatever role you choose.

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