After the Sewol Tragedy, The Korean Government has called for a ban on all school trips until June at the earliest. The order comes from the Ministry of Education as South Koreans continue to mourn for the students lost in the accident and criticize the government’s response to the incident.
In an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Vice-Education Minister Na Seung-il urged education offices in 17 cities around South Korea to cancel school trips, and ordered the reevaluation of safety conditions for future school trips.
Some groups, however, feel that the ban until June is not enough. An online petition started on Agoro, an online Korean message board owned by Daum, has gained over 29,000 signatures that calls for school trips to be banned entirely. Proponents of the petition argue that traveling in such large groups carries huge risks as hundreds of students are only watched by a small amount of teachers. They also argue that long distance trips such as those to Jeju Island aren’t necessary, since most students already go on trips to those places with their families.
On the other hand, opponents of the petition argue that that the motion of banning school trips altogether is missing the point. An anonymous opponent of the petition replied: “Scrapping school trips is not the best way to protect our children… We need to get rid of our deep-rooted insensitivity to safety, so that we can create a society where children can go anywhere and be safe.”
Anyone living in Korea and especially those who teach at public schools have definitely felt the effect that the tragedy has had on events and programs that were originally planned. Annual “Sports Days” and “Festivals” that take place on campuses around the country have been called off, and cultural celebrations like the Lotus Lantern Festival have been canceled, postponed, or scaled back. Children’s Day, which is a national holiday coming up next Monday, will surely have an entirely different vibe compared to previous years.