With the increasing use of smartphones, illegal gambling has expanded among adolescents as well as adults. According to the Korean Center on Gambling Problems (KCGP), adolescents who received counseling treatment have tripled in the past three years resulting in 1,028 cases in 2018. In order to solve this ongoing social conflict, student club “ETHA” aims to raise awareness.
ETHA is a student club under the College of Nursing. It is also part of the Movement for Prevention of Gambling Problems and currently there are total of 32 universities involved in this community.
ETHA hold meetings once a week and brainstorm campaigns, purchase products for education programs, create promotion goods, and rent locations for the campaign. In addition, they visit KCGP more than three times a year and interact with other universities by having study sessions and sharing ideas about each other’s campaign. ETHA also provides prevention education on gambling and participates in Daedong Festival.
Dandobak movie festival is one of the events they planned where they showed movies produced by KCGP. Dandobak is a term that refers to abstaining gambling. The movies are approximately 30 minutes long and after watching, students held discussion sessions considering problems associated with gambling and shared further improvements.
Furthermore, KCGP supports ETHA with full financial aid of activity costs from the country. KCGP contributes to enhance the quality of citizens’ life by establishing safety nets and providing consecutive care system, and rehabilitation services related to gambling. It also reinforces to solve the conflict starting at the fundamental basis.
Kwak Do-yeon, the representative of ETHA, shared her most memorable experience.
“The most memorable experience was the celebration campaign for the expulsion of gambling addiction which is on Sep. 17,” Kwak said. “This day heightens awareness regarding the risks and addiction of gambling. We held the campaign at the Student Union Building by giving out gifts when participants ripped the gambling card, solved the lock where the password is 1336 which is the contact number of KCGP, and solved the puzzle made by our members. We were satisfied since many students participated and because the program we planned out was suitable to the objective of the campaign.”
Kwak also mentioned how ETHA tries to approach the gambling conflict to university students. In South Korea, there is not only illegal gambling, but also legal gambling such as buying lottery tickets, going to the casino, and betting at horse races.
Due to the fact that the members have to acquire thorough and accurate knowledge about gambling in order to help others, they learned a lot by conducting mock tests and holding study sessions. Moreover, ETHA members get inspiration for planning campaigns by interacting with other university students involved in the Movement for Prevention of Gambling Problems.
“As one starts gambling, there is little possibility of full recovery from its addiction,” Kwak said. “Hence, it is important that groups like ETHA spread out the harms and severity of the problem, and create an atmosphere to avoid further gambling issues.”
Considering the increasing tendency of gambling addiction and illegal acts, she highlighted that it is crucial to teach prevention of it in public education institutions. In addition, people have to receive treatment for gambling addiction through counseling and therapy.
Lastly, Kwak mentioned future activities ETHA is striving to take into action.
“Starting from next year, we are not only going to focus on promoting our campaign activity, but also publicize ETHA through social media by creating card news and uploading it on our Instagram account “dandobak_ewha” and Everytime, an online platform for university students. We aim to make contributions to building an environment on prevention of gambling problems.”