Saturday, August 22, 2009

South Korean kids get a taste of boot camp

These youths aren't delinquents -- most are sent by parents who realize that their pampered offspring need more discipline to become better students and grow into conscientious adults.

By John M. Glionna
August 22, 2009 LA Times
Reporting from Daebu Island, South Korea

The rain pelting down on him in gray bullets, the teenager in tortoiseshell glasses stands in a muddy field and takes his punishment, well, like a boy.

Teeth clenched, lenses steamed, water streaming down his face, he looks ready to cry. His sneaker comes off in the muck and he reaches down to pick it up, losing step with the 70 other youths performing drills in rigid military formation.

"Are you feeling cold?" the drill instructor yells.

"No!" the boys respond.

"Are you sure you're not cold?"

"No, not at all!"

"Well, you sure look cold, let me make you sweat."

Their hair stringy, eyes downcast, they drag themselves zombie-like in pursuit of their instructor, the boy in the glasses last of all.

It's the summer camp from hell.

The Blue Dragon Marine Corps Training Camp is the brainchild of Park Kyung-hoon, a rock-hard 52-year-old former drill sergeant who sees the younger generation as a sorry lot: physically fragile, undisciplined and weak-minded, hunched over their computers playing video games, talking trash to their overworked parents.

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