I am not a big fan of roller coasters nor any other amusement park rides due to my fear of heights. However, last Tuesday, I decided to go to the Lotte World, a major amusement park in Seoul, with my friends for one reason: high school uniform experience. Although hanbok, South Korea’s traditional clothing, is a common rental choice for many foreigners visiting Korea, high school uniforms are a popular rental option for those who wish to reflect on their high school experiences. As an international school student, I decided to hang out with my friends at the Lotte World wearing a school uniform to reminisce on our middle and high school memories.
My friends and I decided to take the subway and arrived at Jamsil Station, where Lotte World is located. We then headed to the uniform rental shop “Ewha Gyobok” to try on the uniforms that we pre-ordered from its website. My friends and I decided to select the uniform designed in a unique stripe pattern along with a special tie. After putting on the uniform that we selected together, we then entered Lotte World and lined up to try some of the most popular rides. Because the four of us were all in the same uniform, we felt like we were playing on the school playground, as we did 2 years ago. As we waited for the rides, we also remembered the shared experience of lining up at the school dining hall. During that time, we shared our life stories and I felt like that the line moved so much faster when we talked. This time was no different. While waiting for the rides, I told my friends about my international school experience and also expressed how much I missed being in Korean public school sometimes. Back in high school, I actually did not enjoy wearing the school uniform.
There were times when I used to think that wearing the school uniform took away freedom. I tried my best not to follow the school uniform/hair policy and possibly thought about dying my hair blond and wearing my own clothes.
|[Pictures of me in Lotte World, Photo credit: Dong Woo Lee]|
My visit to Lotte World in a school uniform was more than a typical experience of visiting an amusement park. As a student who always believed that wearing the school uniform suppressed students’ uniqueness and diversity, I never enjoyed wearing my uniform. However, my visit to Lotte World in a school uniform completely changed my experience and the perception I had previously held. Through this experience, I now realize that the school uniform can bring students together and promote a sense of community.
After visiting Lotte World, I had a chance to talk to my best friend, June, about my uniform-wearing experience. Surprisingly, he shared the same feeling that I had felt during my Lotte World trip. After he graduated from high school, he never had a chance to wear his high school uniform again, and going on amusement park rides in a uniform came to him as a recalling experience. Once again, he was able to feel a sense of unity with his friends and evoke memories about his high school life.
|[Pictures of me interviewing my friend June Photo credit: Dong Woo Lee]|
I never thought that I would go to Lotte world wearing a school uniform. When I was in high school, uniforms were prison garbs for me. I felt I was being controlled by my school and grouped as a student losing my own personality. Therefore, I tried to do my best not to be looked like a student, by dying my hair, and putting casual clothes on. However, I always failed because of the school rules.
Upon looking back on my past behavior, I now realize that wearing uniforms would have been the best choice to make myself look cool. To be honest, I actually miss the time when I was in high school wearing school uniforms.
Back when I was in the school, I considered uniforms as nothing more than just pieces of fabric that repressed my right to express my personality and confined me as a student. However, I recently changed my mind that uniforms are the best outfit for students because uniforms ables people to focus more on each student: it makes people not to judge students based on their different appearances.
Dong Woo Lee
The Learning Community International School
Dong Woo Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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