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Have you heard of “Hell Chosun?”
Seung-ryeol Shim  |
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[138호] 승인 2016.04.14  
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Recently people have been using a new phrase, “Hell Chosun.” What do you think of this when you hear it for the first time? I am sure you feel the strong negative nuances from it. Let me tell you what the meaning of word is and its impact today. We know what the two words “Hell” and “Chosun (representation of today’s Korea)” mean, but what is the meaning when they come together in the phrase “Hell Chosun?”

The emergence of the phrase was not sudden, but it does have profound meaning and effects today. Nowadays people in Korea, especially the younger generations are confronted with complex and various difficulties. Student loans, unemployment, and anxiety about the future all weigh on the youth of today. It seems like these are the common concerns for many today. Yes, it may be so. However, the problem goes far beyond us. Students regardless of age, and socioeconomic status graduate from top-tier universities and still cannot find jobs, its no wonder that for the thousands of other students from post-secondary institutions that they too cannot find jobs.

Therefore, many graduates-to-be delay their graduation while looking for the jobs. In the case of internships, students need the experience to gain the jobs they desire, even with poor working hours and tasks, poor pay, and sudden dismissal without the possibility of permanent employment. There is a lack of diversity in the dreams of the young, going to top-tier universities seems to be the only thing they want, so potential and true passions go unheeded. Some outstanding people who distinguish them selves in various fields are not fighting with their competitors but struggling with jealousy of others who do not want to see their peers gain success. What a shame this is! Consequently, the younger generation is being standardized while the fields they work in do not expand and often slow down.

Besides, the phrase “Hell Chosun” also represents Korea’s ridiculous laws and rulings, as well as government corruption. In Korea, if someone commits crimes they always say they do not remember the situation because they were intoxicated. Common sense dictates that they are clearly lying to reduce their prison term. In many other countries, intoxication is grounds for an increased prison term, but here in Korea it is grounds for a reduced term. In addition to our broken judicial system, Korea drafts young men into an army ill equipped to properly provide for its young soldiers. Water bottles are more then 50 years old, and the pay is less than 200 won an hour. The meals coincide with animal disease, for example if avian influenza breaks out they serve chicken, if beef is in question it will be served on the menu out of the blue. Furthermore, people sometimes look down on those who serve to protect them, which is a hardship many must face.

Additionally, there are other terms that reflect the idea of “Hell Chosun” such as “Golden Spoon” and “Soil Spoon.” As you can imagine, a “Gold Spoon” indicates people who are born rich, while “soil spoon” indicate people who lack money and status, generally the poor. In Korea, usually if someone’s parents are affluent, their children will enjoy the same benefits. Because they inherit their parent’s property and wealth, they are at an advantage from birth. “Golden Spoon” people wear the best clothes, drive the best cars and live in very large homes. They have the ability spend allot on leisure and hobbies as well. Their advantages do not end there, because of their wealth they have access to private tutors, and top-notch education, and thus they get into top-tier universities easier. Conversely, “Soil Spoon” people have struggled since their early years, even if they have goals and passions for certain things, most of their income goes to immediate gains. In other words, Koreas social structure intensifies the idea that “the rich-get-richer and poor-get-poorer”.

In a nutshell, many youth today blame the social problems Korea faces for their own disadvantages. I am sure there is a solution, and I know it will not be easy. I my mind it would require a complete reformation from the older generations down to the younger generations. If I were to suggest a solution, it would be voter participation. Regardless of age, gender, and external qualities, we all have the right to vote. However, many people complain about policy and government even when they choose not to participate in an election. If people truly want to change this system, we can do it with our vote.

Seung-ryeol Shim

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