Parents locked down in South Korea – why?

Parents locked down in South Korea – why?
Parents locked down in South Korea – why?

SEOUL – The only thing connecting each room at the Happiness Factory in South Korea to the outside world is a hole in the door through which meals are delivered.

No phones or computers are allowed inside these 5-square-meter cells, and their inhabitants have only the bare walls for company.

The residents may wear blue prison uniforms, but they are not prisoners: they have come to this centre to experience “confinement.” Most have one thing in common: a son who has completely withdrawn from society.

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These inmates are known as hikikomori, a term coined in Japan in the 1990s to describe the severe social withdrawal of teenagers and young adults.

Since April, the parents have been participating in a 13-week parent education program funded and run by two non-governmental organizations: the Korea Youth Foundation and the Blue Whale Recovery Center.

The goal of the plan is to teach people how to better communicate with their children.

The program includes three days in a room that replicates an isolation cell. Parents who have come to the Happiness Factory still long for the day when their children will return to a normal life.

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