열공펜 (Ink Bleed) – Content warning: suicidal ideationErin Lee (2022)
Content warning: suicidal ideation
In South Korea, nosebleeds are often portrayed as an indication of overworking yourself, which is celebrated due to the daunting pressure of academic achievement as the route to success. BSA ’22 student Erin Lee (Chemistry and Art) created 열공펜 (Ink Bleed) as an investigation into her relationship to this expectation. This work involves a working pen that can be inserted into the student’s nostrils to collect their nosebleed and convert it into working ink, so that, instead of being interrupted from studying, they can supply their hard work with the blood. It is a satirical piece making a commentary on the unhealthy grind culture of South Korea. 열공 is a shortened version of 열심히 공부, which means “studying hard”. South Korea has the highest suicide rate among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with 25.7 suicides per 100,000 population. This unfortunate statistic is attributed to the nation’s educational system and stress culture. A typical Korean student usually spends 14 hours a day at school, followed by cram schools called “hagwon (학원).” More than 500,000 high school seniors take the College Scholastic Ability Test, called 수능 (Suneung), which is offered annually with a single test date for the year.