Not only does South Korea have the highest suicide rates of in the OECD, suicide ranks as the fourth-most-common cause of death among South Koreans, with especially high numbers among young people, who are tightly ensconced in the country’s hyper-competitive education system that has consistently seen its youth report high levels of depression, stress and anxiety.
In response to what amounts to a major public health crisis, the country’s education ministry recently announced plans for a smartphone app specially designed to screen students’ social media posts, messages and web searches for words, phrases and images related to suicide.
Once anything problematic is detected, the app will send an alert to the parents of students.
Although using the app will not be mandatory, the Education Ministry expressed hope that it will be installed by parents as an additional precaution against school-related stress for their children.
“Student suicide has become a social problem requiring systematic and comprehensive steps to prevent it,” the ministry said in a statement.
A survey conducted by the Korea Health Promotion Foundation found that just over half of South Korean teenagers aged 14 to 19 confessed to having suicidal thoughts. Of that number, more than 40 per cent of those in the survey attributed these feelings to pressure at school and uncertainty about their future.
Teacher unions respond with their concerns
While any move to address the problem is welcomed, the announcement of the app development brought the education ministry under sharp criticism for not addressing the root of the country’s suicide problem –namely, intense academic pressure, coupled with an ongoing stigma of mental health treatment.
A statement by the conservative Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations said: “Instead of a stop-gap policy, we must work out a fundamental and eventual solution, because various factors lead to the suicide of students.”
The left-leaning Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, in addition to echoing the view that the app is a stop-gap policy, raised privacy issue concerns.
“Any direct monitoring of social networks and messaging services raises possible cause for concern,” the union said in a statement.
The Latest Haps
A vehicle smashed into a Hanyang Mart yesterday afternoon next to an apartment complex in Yeonje-gu.
The US supersonic bomber was in the controversial Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone.
A plan to lower the speed limit on all roads in Busan from the current 60 kilometers per hour to 50 kilometers per hour will be promoted.
The monthly Ha Ha Hole returns this Friday night and it’s looking for female comics to take center stage.
Psychedelic shoegaze from New Zealand, Moses, will be performing in Busan Friday, March 10, on the Busan leg of their Whareama album release tour.
Around 2,000 people are expected to be involved in Marvel Comics “Black Panther” shooting in Busan.
The nation’s favorite boat festival sets sail for the fourth year.
The Busan International Women’s Association is hosting a “Mardi Gras Ball” on Saturday, April 22nd at the Haeundae Grand Hotel.
The Paradise Hotel’s third floor Chinese restaurant ‘Nampoong’ has introduced a new dim sum course meal for spring.
One of Busan’s most legendary watering holes is celebrating its 15th anniversary this Friday night.
Jeju Air will hold a big promotional event with great prices on domestic and international tickets from the 23rd of March through the 5th of April.
Check out this video from the city that shows the top eight spring flower spots in Busan.
The opening ceremony of Gyeongnam’s Jinhae Naval Port Festival, the nation’s largest spring flower festival, is coming up in 10 days.
Drivers will have to pay for their parking at the attached parking area of Sajik Stadium starting from the next month.
The Lotte Giants, will have a special “Lee Dae Ho Cheering Zone” at the opening home game on April 4th and the first weekend home game on April 8th.