Families under tremendous emotional stress

Posts spread urging students’ participation in social issues

Posts spread urging students’ participation in social issues

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Published : 2013-12-16 17:40
Updated : 2013-12-16 17:40

It started with a single school board post, calling for students to pay attention to social issues at hand. Now, more posts are popping up across the country, urging people to open their eyes to key issues facing Korean society.

On Monday, a first-year high school student in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, put up a post on her school bulletin board pressing fellow students to play a bigger role in “protecting the democracy as citizens of Korea.”

“Even as I heard the news of the state-run National Intelligence Service trampling on democracy and evidence of its meddling in the election kept popping up, of people standing up in protest ... I was ‘doing fine.’ I was, after all, a high school student,” she said. She said that despite their young age, students should make their stance.

Her post was a reaction to the controversial post titled “How are you doing?” published last week by Korea University student Joo Hyun-woo, which invited fellow students to ponder social issues.

In the post, Joo lamented the trend of students being indifferent toward social issues, asking how they could be “fine” in the face of the alleged election meddling of the state spy agency, the construction of high-voltage transmission towers in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, and the strike of railroad workers who claim to prevent the privatization of the rail service.

Joo’s post touched off a firestorm of responses from students and the media. Similar posts on school boards started appearing in major universities in Seoul, and the media rushed to scrutinize students’ arguments.

Chosun Ilbo, a conservative daily, said that Joo’s post lacked facts. It claimed that the real reason the railroad workers are on strike is not to prevent privatization of the services but to get more money.

The Hankyoreh, a left-leaning vernacular, refuted Chosun’s reports by saying that its claims lacked evidence.

While the standoff between the two papers -- which have a history of conflicting viewpoints -- was hardly a surprise, netizens were also split over the “How are you doing?” posts.

On Saturday, a related incident took place on the right-leaning website Ilbe. One user claimed to have ripped apart one of “How are you doing?” posts by a female student of Korea University who supported Joo’s opinion.

The person’s action was met with praises from Ilbe members, who complimented “his bravery.” Others, however, said that it was immature and selfish to vandalize someone else’s post just because one does not agree with it.

A person claiming to be the Ilbe member wrote a letter of apology on the online student community of Korea University on Sunday.

“I saw a post which differed from my opinion and decided to rip it. I should have refuted it via another post or expressed it in a different way, but my method was violent and hasty,” the person said, also apologizing for the offensive term.

By Yoon Min-sik

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