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The Gachon Herald
Reality in the gutter, Hyun Si ChangThe brutal reality of youth
SON Ji-hyun  |  umum27@hanmail.net
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Updated : 2013.08.16  11:32:20
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  Have you ever faced the naked truth of reality which is unbearable? More often than not you haven’t, thanks to the sugarcoated rhetoric and messages by the media and celebrities. We have become blinded from seeing the concealed truth, conveniently believing the false exterior as if it were real. Then what is the story that is most elaborately adorned? It is the story of today’s youth in Korea.
  Suddenly, the youth has become the subjects who try hard at whatever they do and then get frustrated as a result. Mentors emphasize ‘healing’ and ‘challenging spirit’, encouraging the youth to be hopeful of their uncertain future. Are they right? Can we be all successful just by taking their advice?
  There is a special book that says NO to this question. The author carefully listens to today’s youth and what they are going through, which we have looked away from, evaded, and thus forgotten. This is a book that refuses to offer crude consolation, rather it pays attention to what actually happens. The title is Hyun Si Chang, the acronym of “Hyun-sil eun Sigungchang”(Reality in the gutter).
  The book includes 24 stories divided into four categories with themes of labor, money, competition, and women’s issues. Each story is about actual incidents, which were reported in news media. The only difference is when it was reported in the media, there was no way of knowing what happened afterwards or what was behind the story. On the other hand, Hyun Si Chang shows us the background of the incidents and details, hence we can see deeper than what has been known before. It was only possible because the author himself covered the cases as a reporter at the Hankyoreh newspaper. 










  A college student who passed away for working part-time to pay back the student loans. A female employee who suffered because she stood up to sexual harassment at work. A KAIST student who chose to commit suicide due to fierce competition among students. A worker at SAMSUNG who lost his life despite his sacrifice and dedication to the firm. These are the stories we vaguely remember but never have known exactly. And the book Hyun Si Chang tries to tell the hidden truth.
  The special aspect of the book is that it doesn’t reflect the author’s opinion at all. The function of this book is to have us listen to what those people have gone through, not to offer analysis or conclusion. For college students suffering from high tuition, what they need is an opportunity to get a job before graduating, not a consolation. For youths who got hurt or died due to work, what they need is a countermeasure for recurrence prevention, not consolation. For youths who are stressed by the overwhelming pressure of college entrance exams, what they need is to change the college admission system, not consolation. The author sharply points out that what is needed is not a temporary comfort but a change of society.
  After reading the book, you may feel powerless and even depressed. However, if you choose not to face the reality then you will get yourself into a swamp of hollow comfort, being assimilated into the ‘Bad Society’. Through this book, I would like you to change your perspective to look at your life and also society. I want to ask you, “Will you overlook and pretend not to see the absurd situations of our society, after seeing the brutal reality? Or, will you risk your peace of mind, being vocal and crying out up against the ‘Bad Society’?”

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