In August 2016, the Korea Army Academy at Yeong-cheon, an institution where future army officers are trained, received criticism regarding one of the guidelines for its 54th applications. The academy made female applicants hand in their obstetrics and gynecology(OB/GYN) medical record. The authorities explained that it was to check the general health conditions of applicants since physical condition and ability is important to the military.
However, there are critical responses that this part is unfair considering that the required record included pregnancy reaction time and operative notes from the past which do not technically affect one’s present capabilities. Fortunately the Korea Army Academy at Yeong-cheon admitted that it could be misleading in a way and decided to delete the guidelines starting the next recruitment. This case represents how women could be or are receiving disadvantages in the society based on biased views originating from the lack of proper sex education.
Limitative and Superficial Education
Starting in 2013, 10 to 15 hours of sex education was to be offered to elementary, middle and high school students every year. However, it was reported in 2015 that sex education had been left to the principals of schools which means that consistent and systematic educations would have been realistically impossible. Moreover, most of the materials were limitative and contained superficial contents about secondary sex characteristics or sexual violence.
“I do not really remember what kind of sex education I received in the past. Particularly back in middle school, most of the students, myself included, did something else like homework and did not pay attention to it. The teachers did not even bother to talk about it at times. I admit that it is my fault that I did not pay attention but it was so boring to just watch videos on the TV screen,” said a 18-year-old student at Duksoo high school who asked for anonymity.
Problems Threatening One’s Health
Ignorance about one’s health related to sex can cause more serious issues when students grow up. “Learning about the womb condition is important regardless of whether or not you are pregnant. Especially for women, there are a number of things to take care of relating to the womb such as periods and hormonal changes. It is one of the most important organs in the body that needs care,” said Park Myeong-ja, a nurse at Hwanggan elementary school.
“Quite a lot of women actually undergo difficulties after they get pregnant due to the fact that they lacked detailed information. They tend to rely on advice written on blogs or internet communities from those with experience. Furthermore, foreign women (mostly from Southeast Asian countries) who got married at young age to Korean men suffer more,” Park added. Taking the current situation into consideration, it can be inferred that sex education is needed not just for not minors but also for adults as well.
Men also need efforts to learn more specifically about bodies. “Me and my wife have been trying to have a kid for three years. Both of us were stressed because we did not know what the problem was. Then a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with Sertoli Cell Only Syndrome.(Sertoli cells help to make up the blood-testis barrier and are related to sperm production.) Until I figured out my condition, I did not realize that also men can be responsible for infertility,” said 41 year-old man who was only identified with his last name Lee. According to the National Health Insurance Service, male infertility rate of Korea in 2012 was four times than that in the past. “I wish I had the knowledge about urological area earlier. In my opinion, this kind of information should be included in sex education and covered specifically not only for having kids but also for one’s health in general,” Lee added.
Providing freshman with sex education can contribute to improving the matter. In the case of some universities in the United States, every freshman must watch material regarding sex education and solve a quiz. ‘Haven’, an online program addressing the critical issues of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking and sexual harassment, is one of the programs that the universities employ. If someone fails to do so, he or she will have problems with course registration.
Fundamentally, however, young students should be able to receive helpful sex education in a more variety of ways. Yuhan-Kimberly, a company that manufactures hygiene products, announced a sex education program in the musical format that was to take place on a regular basis. The musical covers a lot of realistic topics such as dating, relationships, pregnancy, and birth control and so on. The program received positive feedback after a demonstration at two schools.
Change Awkward into Natural
Until the 1990s, no one would publicly talk about topics related to sex and to this day a lot of people feel the same way. However, the more it is hidden because of the awkwardness of bringing it up, will result in a more serious outcome. From one’s health issues to the inequality between male and female, sex education is foundation towards making a change in the long run. “The moment we think it is embarrassing to talk about, sex education can never be delivered effectively. More and more people should not be shy to have conversation about sex because there is no need to,” said Lee Seok-won, a sex education instructor.