The Korea Herald


Art therapy puts troubled teens on right path

By Yim Hyun-su

Published : June 29, 2018 - 21:53

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An art therapy program organized by Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul and the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office is helping wayward teens get back on track.

(Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald) (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Friday marked the seventh run of the project, Imagination and the Future, which is designed to give young people who have run afoul of the law a chance to open up and reconnect with their innate artistic abilities. 

A two-day exhibition showcasing works of the program’s participants also kicked off Friday at Sookmyung Women’s University.

(Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald) (Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)
“Teenagers in general don’t like to speak much. They express themselves through drawing without saying words, and it gives experts a glimpse into their brain and psychological state,” said Gil Eun-young, who runs a psychological counseling center and teaches painting at the university. “We get so much information out of this exercise.”

Gil added that the activity was designed to help participants feel at ease as they immerse themselves in drawing free from distraction.

“When they come here, they have something with which to focus, express themselves and release energy. The whole experience becomes rewarding and helpful in their confidence-building.”

(Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald) (Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)
Each year, a select few young people who have been charged with minor crimes are assigned to the program by prosecutors, and professors and students at the department of painting at the university help nurture their creativity.

The program has helped many of the teens labeled as juvenile delinquents over the last few years get another chance in life, as participants can have their records expunged after completing the program.

“It was tiring at first, but overall it was fun and I enjoyed it, being a fan of art,” said Soo-bin, one of five participants this year.

(Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald) (Park Hyun-koo / The Korea Herald)
The program could be improved by putting more effort into monitoring the teens afterward, according to a few members involved in the rehabilitation program.

“Some of the participants from last year are now in the last year of high school. We keep in touch from time to time,” said Kwon Hee-yeon, who heads the painting department.

By Yim Hyun-su (