Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tall in Korea

Swayed by the increasingly popular conviction that height is crucial to success, South Korean parents are trying all manner of remedies to increase their children’s stature, spawning hundreds of growth clinics that offer hormone shots, traditional Eastern treatments and special exercises. ...

Ms. Seo [Hye-kyong] spends $770 a month on treatments for her daughter and her 4-year-old son at one such clinic, Hamsoa, which has 50 branches across the country and offers a mix of acupuncture, aromatherapy and a twice-a-day tonic that contains deer antler, ginseng and other medicinal herbs. ...

At [the Kiness] clinic, Kim Se-hyun, a fifth-grader, walked on a treadmill with her torso encased in a harness suspended from an overhead steel bar. The contraption, the clinic maintains, will stretch her spine and let her exercise with less pressure on her legs. ...

For the last four years, [Chang Young-hee] has been taking her youngest child, Seo Dong-joon, to Kiness. The boy, now 15, knows his goal.

“If I’m tall, I’ll have an advantage selecting my future wife,” he said, holding an English vocabulary book, which he studies while exercising. ...

South Koreans have been growing taller anyway, thanks to changes in diet. Over the past 30 years the average height of high school senior boys in South Korea has increased 3.5 inches, to 5-feet-8, according to government data. Senior girls grew an average of 2 inches, to 5-feet-3.

Doctors at the growth clinics say that most children simply aspire to the new average height, but with more tall teenagers, those who are not as tall seem even shorter.
--Choe Sang-hun, NYT, on the next U.S. yuppie parenting craze

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