Boot Camp’s Bad Name Doesn’t Extend to Computer Cure

24 11 2007

“When his parents told him he had to go to school, he reacted violently. Desperate, his mother, Kim Soon-yeol, sent him to the camp. . .”

In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession
By MARTIN FACKLER

. . . these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.

They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured.

. . . Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale. (The K is for Korea.)

. . .The rescue camp, in a forested area about an hour south of Seoul, was created to treat the most severe cases. This year, the camp held its first two 12-day sessions, with 16 to 18 male participants each time. (South Korean researchers say an overwhelming majority of compulsive computer users are male.)

The camp is entirely paid for by the government, making it tuition-free. While it is too early to know whether the camp can wean youths from the Internet, it has been receiving four to five applications for each spot. To meet demand, camp administrators say they will double the number of sessions next year.

During a session, participants live at the camp, where they are denied computer use . . . the campers are under constant surveillance, including while asleep, and are kept busy with chores, like washing their clothes and cleaning their rooms.

. . .As a drill instructor barked orders, Chang-hoon and 17 other boys marched through a cold autumn rain to the obstacle course. Wet and shivering, Chang-hoon began climbing the first obstacle, a telephone pole with small metal rungs. At the top, he slowly stood up, legs quaking, arms outstretched for balance. Below, the other boys held a safety rope attached to a harness on his chest.

“Do you have anything to tell your mother?” the drill instructor shouted from below.

“No!” he yelled back.

“Tell your mother you love her!” ordered the instructor.

“I love you, my parents!” he replied.

“Then jump!” ordered the instructor. . .

Advertisements