Wow. I knew South Korea (and Japan) had a problem with suicide in its society but I didn’t realize just how bad it was. As I learned while I was over there, South Korea has the highest suicide rate amongst the OECD nations, and the second highest suicide rate in the globe. The pressure to be smart, successful, beautiful, etc. is incredibly intense in South Korea and puts some Koreans in a hell that they see no way of escaping except to just end it all. Perhaps most horrifyingly, Korean suicide trends extend to the very young. While in Busan I was told about an eight year-old boy who had killed himself earlier this year because he couldn’t handle the intense stress related to his schooling. Eight years old. Let that sink in. A little kid who ought have had his whole life ahead of him instead chose to snuff himself out. He stared into the abyss of his existence and couldn’t find a reason to live. In today’s Korea that sort of broken hopelessness is all too common. Korea’s unrelenting drive to excel in everything has created one of the world’s most advanced countries, but at the cost of driving some members of its society to the point of despair and beyond.

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