Permission to Exist – a documentary on South Korea’s schooling system and psychological well being consciousness amongst Korean teenagers3 min read

Permission to Exist

Director: Kelley Katzenmeyer

Written by: Jaeho Lee

12 months: 2020

Nation: South Korea

The civil examination system in Imperial China was used to pick candidates to work within the state paperwork by benefit somewhat than beginning. This was a somewhat distinctive system on the time when, in many of the world, solely these of aristocratic beginning may anticipate a place within the authorities. This concept influenced international locations round China, together with Korea. Gwageo (과거) examination system was broadly adopted underneath the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. For over a thousand years, these examinations had been an especially essential a part of the tradition, as they’d decide the standing and energy not solely of the people taking them but additionally of their households. It goes with out saying that making ready for these exams on which one’s future depended, had been a extremely anxious matter. Whereas gwageo system was lastly abolished within the Gabo Reforms of 1894, one can’t simply eradicate one thing that had been an enormous a part of the tradition for therefore lengthy. Due to this fact, we are able to nonetheless discover a morphed gwageo in modern-day Korea within the type of college entrance examinations – a vital level within the life of each Korean pupil. 

The documentary “Permission to exist” opens with a necessary query “Do college students making ready for exams nonetheless have a proper to really feel?” Trapped underneath huge strain from their dad and mom and society, college students research countless hours each day and endure in silence from a plethora of psychological well being points. For the feminine college students there’s an added strain – ought to they’ve cosmetic surgery or not? South Korean society is very and overtly favorable to those that adhere to the wonder customary – within the job market and past. With all these pressures, anxiousness, despair, psychological and bodily exhaustion are on a regular basis companions that, in very unlucky instances, result in suicide. 

Whereas the documentary overtly addresses these vital points, it’s not all darkish. Additionally, you will study attention-grabbing details concerning the tradition that surrounds the doorway exams. For instance:

  • Youthful college students collect on the entrance of the examination corridor from daybreak with posters and cheer their older friends getting into the corridor. In the event you didn’t know what’s occurring, you’ll assume it’s a Ok-pop live performance.
  • In the course of the listening portion of the examination, planes usually are not allowed to fly. 
  • Companies open late to scale back rush hour visitors.
  • The inventory market opens an hour late. 
  • Particular non secular companies are supplied to involved dad and mom only for the take a look at, together with finishing 3,000 bows in a single night time. 
  • College students operating late can name the police to assist escort them to exams.

“Permission to Exist” is an exceptionally made documentary, bringing to mild pupil voices and points that must be addressed. Additionally, this not your typical speaking head documentary – there’s that, after all – however there are additionally superbly choreographed dance sequences with an outstanding soundtrack that visually categorical ideas akin to societal strain, despair, frustration, failure. It’s a rare emotional and visible journey – don’t miss a chance to see it!

See extra on their web site: and Instagram @permission_to_exist.

Agne Serpytyte
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