Boredom is a Health Risk for Yonsei Wonju Students

Posted on April 8, 2011

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Photograph: Corbis

by Dong Su Kim

After class, Yonsei University-Wonju student Sang Young returns to his dormitory. He goes online to surf the web. An hour later, he closes his laptop because he is tired of surfing. He lies on his bed with a gloomy look on his face because he doesn’t know what to do.

“There is really nothing to do out of campus,” Sang Young said as he wistfully thinks about all the entertainment he could enjoy in Seoul. It is a typical response from students who attend Yonsei University in Wonju, a small city located 90 minutes east of Seoul.

Sang Young was first surprised by all of the mountains that surround the campus. Although beautiful, it cannot keep students looking for shopping and night life bored after class and on the weekend. This boredom is known among students as the “Maeji-flu”.

What is “Maeji-flu”? The word is a compound of “Maeji”, the name of the district where Yonsei University in Wonju is located, and flu which literally means a contagious virus that can make many people sick. The term was created because places for entertainment are insufficient to keep students busy.

The “Maeji-flu” is a kind of mental illness. It is caused because there are no places to play near the campus. Thus, the university creates some dormitory programs to prevent the “Maeji-flu”. However, proper facilities are insufficient so that students are unable to take sustaining care of their boredom.

Unlike Seoul, there is no subway so students must rely on taxis and buses to get around Wonju. Most of Wonju’s restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets, and stores are not centrally located near campus. The cold weather can make students stay indoors during the winter months which creates even more depression.

There are also physical problems that come from this illness. One students complained that there were no hospitals close to campus where students could go to for their ailments. The nearest doctor for students is about 10 minutes away by bus.

In addition, the area around Yonsei University lacks various clinics for specific health problems. There is just a dental clinic and a doctor’s office. If students want to be treated at a large hospital, they must spend more than 40 minutes by bus to go to Il-San Dong in downtown Wonju.

Though there is household medicine available in each dormitory, most students do not know where they are located. The boredom and lack of medical care is why Maeji-flu can become a dangerous illness for the mental and physical health for the students at Yonsei’s Wonju campus.

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