A crowd of students in front of one high school in the Yeongdeungpo district of Seoul appeared to be donning the same monotonously colored uniforms Tuesday morning. None of the students were wearing the popular puffy jackets, despite the cold.
One 18-year-old student said his school had started putting restrictions on wearing outerwear on top of the students’ uniforms.
“It‘s still pretty cold in the mornings and nighttime. My friends and I find it hard to bear the cold without anything to wear on top of our uniforms,” he said.
Another student, attending a high school in the Dongjak district of Seoul, said his school banned the wearing of outerwear due to the “potential risk of giving other students the feeling of being inferior.”
One school official explained the feeling of inferiority seeps in when students, who cannot afford such expensive jackets see peers wearing them.
“If we start allowing students to wear outerwear, then students are going to ask for permission to wear shirts and jeans. It would become meaningless to enforce the school’s uniform dress code,” he said.
Many students have reported getting sick due to the significant drops in temperature in the mornings and nighttime, one saying, “Many of my friends are battling the common cold and fever.”
Some students have also faced disciplinary action, such as cleaning duties and volunteer service, from teachers upon wearing outerwear to class.
Parents, on the other hand, have showed differing attitudes regarding the dress code. One 46-year-old parent, surnamed Hwang, said the school is violating her son‘s rights, while another 40-year-old parent expressed relief because the “puffer jackets are extremely costly.”
In response to growing criticism from students and parents, the Office of Education had revised its policy to allow students to wrap themselves in outerwear during the winter in 2016. Some schools, nevertheless, have maintained their strict dress codes, banning outerwear.
An official at the Seoul office explained that it is hard to regulate all schools regarding dress code due to different codes of conduct laid out by each school.
By Catherine Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org)