11 years have passed since My Child is Different was broadcasted on SBS. The TV show aired children who had violent tendencies, were timid or suffered from, and one woman on the show was always there to encourage the participants. She also continuously spoke these words: “Love your children and never mistreat them.” Her words regarding infant care are still important messages for parents even now. Therefore, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom, the Sookmyung Times met Oh Eunyoung, a firm believer in the happiness of a child and the idea that happy children will bring happiness to the world.
Please tell us how you came to work as a Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
Before telling you why I decided to become a Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, I’d like to tell you why I became a doctor. Growing up, our family was not wealthy, so I had never had the opportunity to register for private lessons or tutelage. However, my parents were always generous and raised me to be an independent and wise woman despite the prevalent attitude of conservatism at the time. They never lost their temper or hit my brother or me. When my father suddenly got sick, I prayed to God. I offered God a deal. If my father were to get better, I would do everything in my power to become a doctor and sincerely help those in need. That incident had a profound effect on my life. Fortunately, my father is still with us and healthy. I hoped to become a doctor, in particular, a doctor that helps children who are suffering, so I studied child development and parental influences on a child’s education.
What did you major in during your undergraduate studies, and did you enjoy university life?
Whenever I think of my younger university days, I laugh out loud. Simply put, I was a typical student, and I spent my time enjoying university life Sincheon, much like what students do even today. However, I must say I was very diligent and studied my medical courses in depth. Also, I met my husband during my first year at university. We were together for 9 years before getting married. My family’s home was in Chungpadong, which is very close to Sookmyung Women’s University. Whenever I felt stressed with childhood life or my studies, I would walk about Sookmyung campus to relax. Therefore, whenever I think about Sookmyung Women’s University, I feel good and refreshed.
I heard that besides being a doctor, you are also a professor and writer and have had several appearances on TV. Why are you active in so many various fields?
Frankly speaking, I am an active, altruistic, and engaged person. The fundamental reason why I enjoy so many various fields is that I really want to help others and have a great influence on the behavior of people. I feel happy doing what I am doing. In particular, because the role of a doctor is providing others care, I love it best. However, only counseling patients at my office, I feel that I am letting down others because I can only meet those that visit me. Therefore, after contemplating how to contact a lot more people and reduce child abuse, I decide to broaden my method. Thanks to this idea, I have opened the eyes of people in Korea to child abuse. Also, luckily, by appearing on My Child is Different, I gained a sense of accomplishment. I sent this important message out to hundreds of thousands views: “Each child has her/his own identity, just love them for who they are.” I hope to continue to explore various fields and keep spreading this message onto parents and children.
Today, sadly, there are many news reports of parents killing their children and vice versa. Why do you think these cases are happening?
Before any comment may be said on the cases, each one has to be investigated individually. Only looking at the cases all lumped together is dangerous. To be honest, child abuse is only now gaining attention on the news, but in fact, it has been around for a long time. Regardless of when it occurs, people need to accept there are people in society who get too emotional to control their actions. Also, unfortunately, some people in Korean society have weak ability to control themselves. It can be acquired through education. If people do not learn to control their emotions and behaviors early, their actions will pass on to future generations and their descendants. Therefore, I hope that once people start to notice unusual behavior in their child, they have to receive medical or psychiatric advice.
Most young adults today, including Sookmyung Women’s University students, may one day become parents. Would you please provide them some advice on infant care?
I would just like to say, please love your child. Regardless of whether you use punishment or praise, love and care for your kids. All parents—good or bad—deep down inside love their children. Although some parents may lack appropriate reasoning, they are the ones taking responsibility for the care of their children from birth. Nobody is a genius when it comes to infant care. Everyone can make mistakes. Not everyone knows how to deal with all types of kids. However, if a parent becomes frustrated, I would like to recommend overcoming that emotion through learning. The best learning is learning that comes from talking with the kids, wife, and husband as a group. Children know their parents are not perfect. There are no perfect mothers in the world. Therefore, I hope all young adults aspiring to become parents in the future would be confident about their love.
I really feel your love for children. Do you have any other goals you wish to achieve in the near future?
10 years ago I considered opening a school and a living community for physically and mentally challenged children. However, I didn’t have the financial backing to support my dream. At that time, I spent a great deal of time talking and playing with those types of children, so I naturally developed great interest in their wellbeing. The major difference between my dream school and others in Korea would be that I would work with the children to ensure they could adapt to live outside of school in society. Additionally, I am planning on continuing with my current way of educating the public by being a doctor and writer and accepting all opportunities to appear on TV. Next, I am also an animal lover, so I would like to establish a seeing-eye dog academy in Korea to raise dogs that could help the blind here in Korea. Lastly, let me just say that I vow to continue to work for social awareness and child rights.
Would you offer some advice for Sookmyungians planning on following a path quite similar to your own?
Frankly speaking, this work is difficult and the rewards are few. Therefore, you will learn that you must concede to others at times and follow bent paths, which may not always be the path you’d like to follow. Keeping an open mind is the best way to raise kids happily and wisely. Additionally, Sookmyung Women’s University students are at an advantage over some other university students as the university has a long history of striving to improve women’s rights. Therefore, I really look forward to seeing Sookmyungians as great woman leaders in the near future, working to change the world. Be proud of life, and it is my belief that each of you will grow to become warm, bright, and confident women in the future.
• CEO at Oh Eunyoung Academy
• Chief Doctor at Dr. Oh’s Child-Adolescent Clinic
• Professor at Yonsei University School of Medicine
• M.D, Ph.D, Psychiatrist
• Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Specialist
• Author of Mind Prescription
• Guest appearances on SBS ’My Child is Different’