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This Ain’t Summer Camp: Check Out South Korea’s Hardcore Winter Military Boot Camp For Teenagers
February 7, 2013
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The idea of sending wayward kids to boot camp to toughen them up is nothing new. There have been reality shows about it in the States, and here in Canada the first (voluntary) boot camp for troubled teens opened in 1997.

These camps are supposed to develop military-style discipline in youth who have ended up on the wrong side of the law, and to correct their behaviour. As for whether they work, the jury's still out: a 1998 paper about Canada's boot camps claimed they show "no sustained positive effects" for young people. And camps in the U.S. have come under scrutiny over allegations of abuse and a lack of oversight.

Well, it seems many South Korean families are confident that boot camp is a good idea for their young people. The country's military offers biannual boot camps for civilians over the age of 13, and lots of people attend, including many teenage boys and young women.


For the most part, the kids who go to these boot camps don't have criminal backgrounds. Instead, they're regular young people.

Reporting on the camps, the LA Times said "these kids aren't delinquents - most are spoiled and don't meet their parents' expectations, whether academically or socially."

Winter programs range from four to 14 days at the Blue Dragon Camp, where the photos on this page were taken. The camp is run by retired marines, who also offer an equivalent summer program.


The government-run camps are pretty affordable - the basic four-day program costs 40,000 won (about $36.50) - and they've drawn more than 17,000 people to date, some of whom seem excited to be a part of it.

"This is so good at relieving stress and much more fun than playing computer games," said 17-year-old Kim Tae-Hoon. His father encouraged him to sign up as soon as he turned 13. Since then, he's been to the camps a total of nine times, both summer and winter.

Of course, not all the young people at the camps are thrilled to be attending.

"It's hard. I'm hungry," 15-year-old Cho Byung-Chan told AFP. His parents sent him to the camp to try and reduce the amount of time he spends playing video games. "They said I need to grow up."


Training at the camps includes simulated parachute landings, lifting and carrying frozen logs, and a "gas-filled chamber, designed to test training against chemical attacks."

Outside of these boot camps, military training is a big part of life in South Korea. Every male in the country is expected to complete 21 months of compulsory service in the armed forces unless physical or mental disabilities make it impossible.

Via Oddity Central


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