Yesterday it was my big Saturday in class. Seven hours of teaching with a one hour break in the middle. It was at that lunch break that we sat in a Chinese restaurant eating Korean food, that we saw on the television the news of the suspected suicide of the former President.
It appears that earlier that morning former President of South Korea Roh Moo-Hyun, had jumped to his death from near his home on the east coast of South Korea. My Korean companions were upset about this event as, despite the fact that this man and his family were embroiled in a scandal about bribery and corruption, he was a much loved former President.
Later I felt that things were rather solemn, sort of eerie in a way.
I did some research on suicide to find that South Korea has a very high suicide rate these days. There has always been pressure on folks to succeed and students at high school and university are under great pressure to do well. As well, with the Internet, they are able to read about suicde and I even saw a message from a Korean student willing to pay for a drug to help end his life, as he could not cope.
"Suicide is the fourth cause of death in South Korea. A government report released at the end of 2006 stated that South Korea's suicide rate was the highest among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2005. The report highlighted that the high suicide rate is a reflection of changing and conflicting gender roles, economic hardship and domestic violence. In 2005, 26.1 out of every 100,000 South Koreans committed suicide, a dramatic increase from 11.8 people in 1995."
(Source http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?at_code=390145 - Accessed May 243th, 2009)
There is certainly a lot of pressure on folk to succeed, and they donot like "losing face", so the former president's suicide is not surprising when you see how much pressure he was under with the investigations about his family and the money.
It was an eerie feeling last night. I hada feeling that people were sitting at home considerin the ramefications of the news. Even though there was suspicion of corruption with his family he was much loved by the people of Korea. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days.