South Korean Troops Swap Boots For Ballet Slippers

When South Korea soldiers started taking up ballet, amazing things began to happen.

South Korean soldiers deployed near the North Korean border of the country face a lot of tension on the front line.

As a form of respite from their difficult jobs, and to distract themselves from the mundane routine, these young men switch their rough boots for ballet shoes once a week.

"There's a lot of tension here since we live in the unit on the front line, which makes me feel insecure at times," said Kim Joo-hyeok, a 23-year-old sergeant.

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"But through ballet, I am able to stay calm and find balance as well as build friendships with my fellow soldiers," he added.

The soldiers consider their weekly dance practice a good way of strengthening their muscles and improving flexibility. Of course, it involves a great amount of practice and effort, but the soldiers enjoy it since they get to spend time with others passionate about the form of art.

The men are trained by Lee Hyang-jo, who dances with the Korean National Ballet. She describes the classes as a “rewarding job” saying she was not initially sure if ballet could be any help to the soldiers. But now, when she sees her students smiling and enjoying their practice sessions, she knows they are enjoying it.

Art can be extremely helpful when dealing with stress. Getting away from a demanding job to do what one loves helps people rejuvenate and avoid burn out. In this case, these ballet classes are possibly what keep the soldiers going through the week once back at the border.

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