This desire to succeed in competition has enabled Korea to achieve much in such a short time. It is one of Korean's noble traits, and this desire permeates all of society. Parents have great expectations for their children, which also makes for much unhappiness.
When children are online and game-playing with their rivals, they see the points registering and this stimulates their desire to succeed and gives them a great sense of satisfaction.
Over half of Korean children want to be in the entertainment world. They know the exhilaration that comes with holding a microphone in hand and experiencing the adulation of their classmates.
The writer mentions that a friend, teaching in an academy in Korea, told her most of the girls wanted to be stewardesses because they were considered beautiful. These young girls knew that beauty gave them power.
Why is it that women, and now more frequently men, are frequenting the cosmetic surgery hospitals for a change of face and even for a change of body? Is it not because of the intense competition that we now have in society?
She mentions her own competitive drive. She was a well-paid lawyer in a big company but gave it up to become a writer. She looks back and sees it as something she did without a great deal of thought.Her son discovered hundreds of letters of rejection from her publishers. It took her 11 years before her first novel was accepted. She is doing something, however, that she enjoys.
The Korean temperament thrives on competition: winning is all important, and is the main reason, she believes, there is so much unhappiness among the children.
She wonders how this competitive climate might be changed, and proposes that there be more opportunities to succeed outside of studies. She doesn't think there is a need for more opportunities to have more star athletes, more famous musicians, more successful entrepreneurs. She hopes that more will see the beauty of life and look for the opportunity to experience failure and success in other areas of life.
Her thoughtful commentary was refreshing to read. The "All or nothing" attitude that she feels best describes our young people is bound to frustrate many--few ever become number one.