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Simple Yet Helpful Advice to Our Young Students2021 Essay Contest 2nd Place

“Work” and “play” seem to be two very different concepts for most of us. Don’t you think of suits, briefcases, and a dreary office when hearing the word “work” and imagine a bright atmosphere and free time when hearing “play”? But we are not the ones to blame. The whole of society has made us regard those concepts that way. Let us take a look at the general education curriculum, for example. In school, students learn that play is the opposite of work, and this phenomenon can also be found in universal dictionaries. You can easily see sentences such as “an activity opposite to work” written beneath the word, play. Therefore, children tend to think that work and play cannot coexist and they can only play after finishing all the work, which saddens me a lot.

I believe work and play are deeply related to each other and are similar in some ways. Actually, play and work are the basis of every human culture. According to Johan Huizinga, a Dutch historian, play is older than culture, and all men have and are currently enjoying playing. Huizinga claims play is a higher concept of culture and provides tension and joy to people. Furthermore, one of the most representative characteristics of play is competition. In addition, playing with others basically has the trait of confrontation. Play involving confrontation is usually processed between two or more opponents. Of course, the concepts of confrontation and competition do not necessarily coexist but play naturally arouses competition, and its effect grows with tension. The tension that comes from the feeling that one will not succeed undertakes a significant role in playing. When we play, we all hope for success and try to relieve the tension by resolving challenging tasks. Thus, the combination of competition, tension, and further uncertainty makes the game much fiercer. Then, what does “competition” have to do with work? As we all know, the essential element of work is also competition. Now that we have reached the hyper-competition era, competition has become indispensable in the society we live in. We live by competing with others every day. In this “winner takes all” system, modern people struggle to achieve better and higher performance.

Moreover, various works tend to become more playable. You may wonder how work can proceed like play, but it is a phenomenon that has continued from the past, which has become more common now. Let me give you an example. In the old times, games were designed in Korea when producing straw-mats (meongseok) to make it roll more conveniently. The work was operated so that the straw-mats did not rot. In the process of re-opening the straw-mat, people held hands and lined up in a row, performing straw-mat rolling in random order, and even combined them with the Korean traditional circle dance, ganggangsulae. Like this, it is not surprising to know that work has become somewhat similar to play as time has passed. The play conversion phenomenon has emerged prominently in the present trade industry as well. In fact, there is an element of play hidden in the trade industry. As mentioned earlier, competition is one of the most crucial components of play, and modern conglomerates often compete to show better performance than their opponents. There are cases where they participate in the competition by introducing more advanced and sophisticated technologies or strengthening competitiveness through propaganda. According to a recent 2021 survey conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the intensity of overseas competition in numerous export-oriented companies increased highly, which clearly shows that many trading companies have joined the competitive play. The continued intensification of global competition is the result of commerce turning into a “play” itself.

In the future, work will fuse with play, and those two will develop into similar concepts. It will now be possible to find play in all aspects of work. Therefore, our young students should try to abandon stereotypes about the distinguishing between work and play and take a pleasant attitude towards these future changes. If so, I am sure that you will surely be able to adapt to future changes in work.

Kim So-dahm  (Humanities Science)

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