About 200 college students braved the freezing weather Saturday to take part in an outdoor debate at a Seoul university on themes ranging from the rail workers’ strike to intelligence agents’ electioneering.
The gathering was called in by a single school board post, titled “How are you doing?” put up by Joo Hyun-woo, a Korea University student, last Tuesday, calling for students to pay attention to social issues.
The post asked students if they were indeed doing okay when thousands of railroad employees were removed from positions for staging a strike and a few attempted suicide to protect their village from high-voltage power line construction in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province.
“Our generation was believed to live without any big troubles as we were not forced or allowed to contemplate and speak up about politics and economics,” Joo Hyun-woo said in the post.
“But now, we cannot even do so. I just want to ask one thing. How are you? Are you really doing fine when you’re avoiding social affairs and thinking that they are not your business?”
The post immediately swept through the online and offline communities. More than 60 response posts were put up right next to KU’s “How are you?” post, discussing social issues under the title of “I’m not doing fine.” The content quickly spread out on Facebook, receiving more than 140,000 likes in five days.
Many college students have been criticized for low participation and inactive engagement in politics and social issues. The lack of commitment in public interest activities was especially visible in school elections. More and more schools face difficulties in naming new student leaders due to low voter turnout and irregularities as they are mostly preoccupied with job-hunting and studies.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (email@example.com