For a very long time, many people have looked upon play as a kind of ‘disaster,’ and instead have tried to study and work harder and harder. Hard work and study will bring wealth and honor, so people regard it as a faith. But among those people, there are a few who say ‘Let’s play!’ Why do they say ‘No’ when most people say ‘Yes?’ The Sookmyung Times (SMT) heard the reason from Chung-Woon Kim (KIM).
1961, Born in Seoul
1987, Graduated from Department of Psychology, Korea University
1997, Took a doctorate in Cultural Psychology at the Freie Universitat Berlin
2000, Started the Department of Leisure Management at Myongji University
Professor in Department of Leisure Management at Myongji University
President of the Human Management Institute
SMT: You opened the first Department of Leisure Management in . Koreans are not well acquainted with Leisure Management. Why did you start that academic course in ?
KIM: I majored in psychology. When I stayed in , I asked foreigners what the most serious psychological problems of Koreans are, and they told me that there are so many Koreans who live insipidly. So I searched for how people can live with fun and happiness. I found out about leisure, a part of practical study in psychology. It is related to not only psychology, but also sociology and sports, so I became determined to develop that area of study in .
SMT: In your book, you mention that play is different to rest. Would you tell SMT those points of difference in more detail?
KIM: Each person has awakened to their own level. If you standardize that level, people accept information. When people accept more information than that level allows, they are under stress. When they are in this situation, they need to rest and talk with themselves. That is a time for self-reflection, the rest. Also, when people get less information than their level requires, they want to get more information, so in order to acquire more information, people concentrate on some object while forgetting themselves. That process means play. During this process, people can find new contexts. It is also connected with creativity.
SMT: How can play be connected with creativity?
KIM: For example, when you play ‘rock, paper, scissors,’ you try to find new ways to win. While playing this game, you can have fun and gain more information about that game. In other words, you find a new context in the game of ‘rock, paper, scissors.’ In this way, new contexts can be connected with creativity. In psychology, fun has the same meaning as creativity. What is creativity? Creativity means changing the established context. People feel enjoyment when they meet a changed context, and say “Oh, that is a very creative idea!”
SMT: Most people want to enjoy their life. For this reason, the Government introduced the social system of the five-day work week. But there are no basic support systems in place. What do you think about this problem?
KIM: I think about this problem somewhat differently. Actually, people don’t exactly know what makes them fun, but they only blame the system as the most serious problem. The most serious problem is that people don’t know what gives them enjoyment. The Government doesn’t know that either, so it is natural that there are no basic systems in place. If people want to enjoy their life, I want to say to them, ‘Find what makes you fun first.’ Moreover, it is connected with cultural diversity. In , fun is standardized. Many Koreans regard fun as drinking lots of boilermakers (poktanju) and going to karaoke rooms, and university students follow these customs blindly. I don’t think that it is an evil custom, but it is not a fun element for everyone. People can create their own ways to have fun if they enjoy their life.
SMT: Today, many university students cannot enjoy their school life. Why is this so? And how can they enjoy their life well?
KIM: Many university students only worry about their future careers, and when they grow up and can’t enjoy their life, they blame only the system. It is very selfish. They have to find their own fun themselves. I recommend that they experience many cultures and activities through travel, volunteer work, and club activities. I know many students want to travel or do volunteer work, but they do not act on those desires. Because they don’t want to ‘waste time,’ they study rather than traveling or working as volunteers. As a result, it is also falling into a trap set by oneself. If you enjoy your university life and adult life, or become successful, you should be take responsibility for your activities. Finally, the way to play well is within you. Remember that your own fun is not chosen by someone else, but it is in you.
If you want to get more information and SMT recommends that you read his book, ‘Work-Life Balance.’ You can learn more about the psychological element of play through this book. Also You may know the newest core topic of Western society, Work-Life Balance