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How to offer visions to our youth

Mar 07,2017
Noryangjin in southern Seoul is full of people preparing for the civil service examination, and I always find the neighborhood a bit strange.

It exposes the craze over the civil service examination in Korea. 228,000 people took the exam for the grade nine positions, and the competition rate was 46.5 to 1.

The entry barrier is low, and the examination is fair. A government job offers the highest job security and work-life balance. The young people have good reasons to study for the civil service exam, drinking cheap coffees in Noryangjin.

In a survey, 38 percent of the respondents said that they have a possibility of success in the career of their choice. 51 percent said that they have a chance of success in current career compared to the parents’ generation. In the Citi Group survey on 7,000 young people around the world, those in Seoul gave the least optimistic responses on the prospect of the future among 25 cities.

The young people in Seoul say that they cannot see possibilities and opportunities. What good would it do to urge them to dream bigger than civil service and challenge for greater vision?

Some presidential hopefuls proposed a basic income system. Critics say that it is not feasible due to the budget and it is low in the welfare priority. But basic income is noteworthy as it could make the young people dream again. Ewha Womans University’s social works professor Lee Seung-yoon is a champion of the youth basic income. “Basic income will allow people to rethink the meaning of work. Paid jobs are not the only options, and people can consider volunteering and anti-nuclear power activism as work.”

It is sweet to imagine the direction of the basic income: the world where people choose careers based on worthiness and contentment, not financial compensation and job security. Basic income would not be the only way to give hopes and courage to the young people. So let’s start a serious discussion on other ways. The promise for basic income may sound preposterous, but it casts us a meaningful question.